There might not be a more difficult decision in the design world than selecting the right flooring for your home. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. With that said, if you are looking for durability, longevity and style, most often, you can’t beat hardwood floors. The wide options of hardwood flooring available means that you are sure to find something to perfect your space.
While hardwood floors are elegant and timeless, they are not all created equally. When it comes to hardwood flooring, there are two main types – solid and engineered. Solid hardwood planks are created from a single thick piece of wood. Engineered hardwood has a core of plywood with a layer of hardwood veneer applied to the surface. While there is a lot to love about both of these options, each is made from 100% real wood. Unlike laminate or vinyl plank alternatives, no two pieces are ever exactly alike.
Traditional solid hardwood has been in demand for many years but recently, engineered wood floors have been hugely popular. Both options provide a beautiful finish so it can sometimes be hard to compare the two. But here are 5 key differences between solid and engineered hardwood.
Your budget usually drives your home project. It will help you determine which option is best for you. Generally, engineered hardwood is less expensive than solid hardwood but ultimately, the quality and species of the wood will be the largest price factor. Exotic varieties of solid hardwood are more expensive than engineered.
While the price range varies greatly, the cost of engineered hardwood is usually around $3-14 per square foot (but this will depend on the plank thickness and species of wood). The hardness and durability of the wood ultimately determines the final price but most solid hardwood floors cost between $8-15 per square foot.
Engineered hardwood is less likely to buckle or react to heat so there are a variety of installation options available. The fact that engineered wood does not react to changing temperatures, means that this alternative can be installed above or below ground level. Since the solid hardwood will expand and contract over time, this wood can only be installed on or above ground level.
Engineered hardwood can be installed quickly and in a variety of spaces This is your best option if you’re looking for a DIY project. Most styles of engineered wood can be glued or nailed down and in some cases is similar to laminate flooring, in that you can opt for a type that locks planks together without a fastener.
Solid hardwood will generally have a longer installation process. The flooring is attached with a specific flooring nailer then sanded and finished. The sanding process can be tough to navigate if you don’t have experience. Although in theory, you could do it yourself, hiring a professional will ensure that the job will get done quicker, neater and will last longer.
Both forms of hardwood offer durability and toughness – but solid wood still comes out on top as it is inherently sturdier as they must be permanently nailed or glued into your subfloor. In extreme temperatures, engineered woods have much greater structural stability, which delivers better resistance against buckling. While this can be a benefit, the durability of engineered wood is not comparable to solid forms because the surfaces on this engineered wood are quite thin and are more prone to chip over time.
Engineered floors are the better choice when it comes to moisture. Engineered wood is constructed with a plywood base so moisture is less likely to flex or warp the boards. The fibers in plywood run in a crosswise layer helping make it resistant to moisture build-up.
Solid hardwood floors are not usually recommended in areas where moisture is prevalent. So you probably want to avoid solid wood for your bathroom, laundry room or any areas that require regular mopping or have water around. Even still, solid hardwood can still resist moisture to some extent (especially if you can clean it up quickly) but this will depend on if the wood is prefinished or site-finished. Site-finished wood has a top layer that is sealed which can help absorb some of the moisture.
Most people are looking to support products that sustain a positive environment approach. In many cases, engineered hardwood is more eco-friendly than solid wood. The manufacturing process for engineered wood is less wasteful and requires less energy than most of the other flooring types. However, it isn’t to say that selected solid hardwood isn’t a sustainable option. You can still buy environmentally friendly solid wood, provided that it is purchased from a responsible supplier and certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).