Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Sold Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood floors have been in use for hundreds of years. Though there are options today regarding solid or engineered wood floors, many people still prefer the feel of a solid hardwood floor beneath their feet. Solid hardwood flooring is generally readily available depending on the species and board sizes needed and can be had as wide as 12” and as long as 16’. When dealing with some old growth reclaimed hardwood floors the widths can be sourced up to 22” and as long as 20”.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using multiple layers of wood veneers. The grain of each layer runs in perpendicular directions, which creates exceptional dimensional stability. This means the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature. Because of the way engineered hardwood is processed, it is not as affected by humidity as solid wood planks are. Therefore, the product is often the preferred choice for kitchens and bathrooms or in areas where the humidity level can vary—like in a basement or a part of the house below grade, as long as a moisture barrier is placed between the subfloor and the hardwood planks.
They are also better suited for installing over in-floor heating systems.
The top layer of engineered wood consists of high-quality wood. Engineered floors can be nailed or stapled to a wood sub-floor, or glued down to a wood subfloor or concrete slab. This makes engineered wood floors ideal for slab and basement installations, but they can be used in any room either above or below grade. This type of flooring can be sanded and finished. Engineered hardwood floors are suitable for installation on all levels of the home and over plywood, wood, OSB and concrete subfloors.
SANDING: Solid hardwood flooring can generally be refinished many times because it can be sanded and re-sanded nearly all the way down to the tongue and groove of the boards. That could be as much as 1/4″ or about one third of the thickness of the board. The same can be had with engineered wood flooring when the material has a 6 mil or ¼” wear layer, you will be able to sand engineered flooring just as much. Finishes are so durable that you will get a lifetime of carefree use before a new finish is ever needed. Refinishing, therefore usually becomes a secondary consideration in the selection process.
FLEXIBILTY: Versatility is always an important issue in choosing flooring. Today, engineered hardwood flooring is really quite versatile. It can be installed using either glue or staples. It can also be installed over all types of sub-floors from suspended wood to concrete slab. Engineered hardwood flooring, given proper conditions, can be used below grade. Solid hardwood flooring, on the other hand, has the limiting requirement of needing to be stapled down over suspended floors – above grade. In order to fasten solid hardwood flooring over a concrete floor, plywood or firing strips would have to be installed first. It can be done, but it is time consuming and expensive.
THICKNESS: Engineered hardwood flooring is generally thinner than solid hardwood. That means it can be used in many remodeling projects where a solid ¾” floor would create a height problem. Engineered wood floors can range in thickness from ½” to 1″.
STABILITY: For the most part, hardwood flooring is quite dimensionally stable over time. Solid hardwood may, under certain climatic conditions, be subject to swelling or shrinking. Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand while still subject to slight movement is the better choice where extreme seasonal climate changes may cause problems. The plywood-like construction of an engineered floor gives it more dimensional stability.
COST: Typically solid hardwood flooring will cost you less than engineered wood flooring for the same look because fewer processes are used in the manufacturing process than with engineered wood. These factors also help make solid hardwood flooring more friendly to the environment.