Should I choose Engineered or Solid Hardwood Flooring?
You would find it difficult to tell the difference between engineered or solid hardwood flooring once they have been installed, but they are very different types of flooring. They are both made from real hardwood, but in very different ways. The main difference between engineered and solid wood flooring is in the construction of the planks. This, in turn, affects how, when and where they can be used. The choice between engineered or solid usually depends upon your preference and also where and how you want the flooring to be fitted.
What Is Engineered Hardwood?
Engineered wood is built with 3 to 14 layers of ply. The ply layers are cross arranged, glued, and pressed together to make them strong. The top part of the wood contains a 4mm wood veneer that is sanded over time to continue to restore the engineered wood’s original appearance.
Engineered wood is made using different wood materials. Those consist of wood, sawdust, metals, and other artificial boards if they are durable. However, the top part of the wood consists of a water-resistant material that protects the inner parts.
Engineered hardwood flooring looks wonderful in your dining room, living room, or bedroom. You can also limit its use in the bathroom and the other areas exposed to humidity because moisture shortens its lifespan.
What is solid hardwood flooring?
Solid hardwood flooring is simply made from a solid piece of hardwood. The wood is cut straight from the tree trunk, then made into a plank of flooring by a machine. You will be able to find solid wood flooring with different species of wood, varying plank sizes and a choice of finish. Alternatively you could opt for unfinished solid wood flooring. This gives you the chance to install your hardwood floor first and then match a colour stain and style of finish to you décor.
Solid hardwood flooring is popular and widely desired as it is thought to create a luxurious appeal to your home. The majority of solid wood flooring comes with the more traditional tongue and groove fitting profile, although you can find solid wood parquet blocks and occasionally click fitting planks. Solid wood flooring need to be fixed into position during installation. It cannot be floated over an underlay as it needs the stability of being securely fixed to the subfloor.
What are the advantages of solid hardwood flooring?
- It is the most traditional and luxurious type of wooden flooring.
- The planks are made from just one solid piece of hardwood.
- You have the option of sanding and re-finishing your flooring a number of times if and when required.
- Your solid wood flooring has a long life expectancy, offering a timeless and charismatic appeal.
- You can find solid wood flooring in a wide variety of species of wood, ranging from light to dark with different patterns and grains.
- The planks of solid flooring can be found in random lengths and different widths so that you can choose something which suits your surroundings.
- The tongue and groove fitting system is the more traditional and well established method of installation.
- You have the choice of either unfinished or pre-finished planks of solid wood flooring.
What Makes Engineered Wood Special?
Engineered hardwood is strong, and this is one of the reasons why it is special. The different ply layers joined with glue makes it more resistant to damage and other external impacts. In fact, due to its strength, it’s useable high traffic corridors or living areas.
Below is a list of other benefits of engineered wood that make it a popular choice for homeowners.
⎆ Low Maintenance
Every floor requires proper maintenance to retain the aesthetic and functional features. While some floors need in-depth cleaning and costly polishing, engineered wood’s maintenance requirements are small by comparison.
After installation, you only need to wipe the spills using a soft cloth. But, you must wipe them immediately so they don’t leave a mark. While there is no specific process for cleaning engineered hardwood floor, you must at least keep it clean to prolong its life.
⎆ Easy to Install
Ideally, you want to hire a competent person to do the installation. However, the truth is that engineered wood is easy to install. You might even try a DIY installation if you understand the basics.
Even if you hire an expert, they take minimal time in the installation and you pay less over other types of flooring installations.
⎆ Multiple Styles and Finishes
Versatility is a major concern when choosing a wooden floor. As a homeowner, you want the best floor that matches your home’s interior, and that’s exactly what engineered hardwood provides.
In fact, it comes in many colors, styles, and designs. The wide array of options makes it possible to choose the best for your needs. Furthermore, you may resize it to fit your space.
Before you install, compare the different engineered wood grades and make sure to choose the best quality.
The initial installation costs for engineered wood are less in comparison to solid wood. Even so, the flooring appearance is great. This also means you enhance the appearance of your home without breaking a bank.
Where do you want to install the flooring?
Where you want the flooring to go may help you to decide whether to choose engineered or solid hardwood flooring. Solid wood flooring is great for high traffic areas as it can be sanded down and re-finished multiple times. So if you are looking for flooring for an entrance hallway or living area then solid wood flooring could be a good option. If however, you want hardwood flooring for a room where temperature or humidity is continually fluctuating, we would recommend engineered hardwood. For example, conservatories, rooms with a lot of glazing or even for a kitchen. Engineered hardwood flooring has been designed to withstand slight changes in its surroundings, so can cope with changing air temperature, or moisture in the air.
Do you have underfloor heating?
If you are thinking about using underfloor heating with your wooden flooring then you will need to choose engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is the perfect match for underfloor heating. It allows the heat to be transferred to the surface of you floor safely. Engineered hardwood can cope with the constant changes in temperature and will react accordingly. It will expand and contract and is dimensionally stable enough not to become damaged by the heat from underneath. We would not recommend using solid wood flooring with underfloor heating.
What is your budget?
If you have a tight budget for your floor then engineered hardwood usually works out more cost effective than solid. Solid hardwood is generally more costly because of the amount of solid wood that is used for each plank of flooring. Be careful not just to assume that engineered is better value than solid hardwood. Some types of engineered flooring can be quite costly, especially if you choose a rare species of wood, or opt for a very wide plank size. Always be sure to check both options when deciding what is best for you.
How To Select Hardwood Flooring
Once you understand your budget and personal or environmental flooring preferences, there are a few simple steps you can follow to help you drill down to the best hardwood flooring choices for your home.
1- Color Preference – Before starting to select wood flooring, it is always a good idea to have a color palette in place. What we mean by that is you should know the general colors you are going to be using for furniture, paint, etc. in order to give yourself a palette of colors to match with. This will enable you to more easily narrow your flooring color options down to a manageable number.
On the other hand, if you are starting with floor color and do not yet know what furnishings, paint and other elements you are going to be using in your home design, this can be more challenging. You will need to begin with an open mind on floor color and allow your eyes and preferences to guide your selection.
2- Smooth or Distressed – Next you will want to determine your wood floor finish preference. Do you like the look of distressed wood, a smooth flooring style or maybe handscraped hardwood?
Selecting the texture you prefer will help eliminate wood flooring that might not come in that style.
3- Board Width – Another wood flooring style consideration is plank size or board width. There are virtually hundreds of options of wood floor widths to choose from. Typically sizes range from 2 1/4″ up to 11″. Just as with finishes, choosing the width that best fits your decor plan will help you eliminate wood floor options that may or may not come in that specific size.
4- Wood Floor Species – Hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood, and even laminate flooring comes in many different species. Each species of wood flooring provides a different base color, design pattern and overall look (Oak, Birch, Maple, etc). In addition, the varying hardness of a specific wood flooring species plays a role in its suitability for various installation applications based on the species hardness and overall durability. See hardwood hardness examples.
5- Environmental Application – Ask yourself about the conditions that you are going to be not only installing your new wood flooring but the daily environment that your wood flooring will exist in. For example, if you have small children, active dogs, high traffic areas may require a more resilient wood flooring type. Other considerations such as available natural light, moisture areas such as bathrooms or basements could also impact color or composite preferences.
6- Sustainability – Finally, consider your green requirements for your new wood flooring. Are you looking for highly sustainable green flooring options such as bamboo wood floors, or will lower impact environmentally friendly engineered hardwood flooring. Both are considered to be more Green friendly options over the traditional solid hardwood flooring.