Engineered and solid wood flooring have long been subjects of debate in hardwood flooring. But choosing between these two flooring options is a matter of preference rather than necessity. Most homeowners will realize they’re happy with either solid or engineered wood floors.
But as a new installer, you may be lost as to why to pick any. For example, you may be concerned about which engineered and solid wood would do best against water or liquid spills.
You may want to know which of the two is best to install in your home’s proposed installation area. For example, engineered wood flooring is better in high-moisture areas like baths, kitchens, and basements. But that doesn’t reduce the relevance of solid hardwood.
Here, we’ll take you through the major peculiarities of these two wood floorings. Essentially, this is a comprehensive guide to inform which one to choose between engineered and solid hardwood floors.
What is Engineered Solid Wood Flooring?
When searching for a new wood floor, the term “engineered flooring” will likely come up. But, what precisely is engineered wood flooring, and why should you choose it? \\
To put it simply, the definition of “engineered” is “made with the aid of scientific principles.” Engineered flooring has been constructed with careful consideration for its intended use. The natural wood floor that once came from a tree has become new material.
Let’s examine what this suggests.
Engineered Wood Flooring: How It’s Made
The Top layer
An engineered wood floor’s top layer, or veneer, must be wood. Compared to laminate floors, which have a printed decorative layer, engineered floors can only have a natural ornamental layer.
Laminate flooring has components of actual wood because its core HDF material is from wood chips. However, the decorative surface is not from natural wood.
The thickness of the actual wood veneer used for decoration is important. A basic rule of thumb is the top layer thickness directly correlates to durability and sandability. It’s also important to note that higher quality, more substantial-top layers may come at a higher price.
The Core Board
The core board is the second part of an engineered floor. This part is the layer onto which installers will glue the ornamental one. The main board or core board is crucial. It reinforces and stabilizes the floor as a whole.
The core is from components more resistant to moisture and temperature fluctuations than other wood floorings. In other words, engineered wood flooring uses various core board materials.
The total core thickness is usually 18mm, while the top layer is 5mm thick.
Engineering Floor Varieties
Engineered wood floors can come in different versions including:
Multi-ply Engineered Wood Flooring
Several homes in Canada use the multi-ply engineered wood floor. It provides you with the most authentic simulation of walking on real wood. Its various layers also protect against overexpansion, cupping, or warping.
The typical thickness of multi-ply engineered hardwood flooring is between 13 and 20 millimetres. Plywood’s reinforced centre supports widths of up to 350 mm.
3-ply Engineered Hardwood Floors
3-ply engineered flooring is also widely used. It has a wonderful feeling and provides excellent protection against cupping and overexpansion.
The typical total thickness is between 12 and 18 mm. For boards up to 200mm wide, we insist on a minimum of a 3-ply core. Wide plank wood flooring can be unsteady since its core isn’t as sturdy as a multi-ply core.
Engineered Wood Flooring HDF
Engineered flooring with an HDF core is not very common. Despite this, their star is rising because of the many adaptable uses. In addition, the core is compatible with click installation systems that are user-friendly for the do-it-yourself folks, making setup a breeze.
Due to the inherent strength of high-density fibre cores, the overall thickness is generally lower. And this reduction helps facilitate the transition between different floor types.
Defining Solid Wood Flooring
Simply said, solid hardwood flooring is a form of flooring from a single piece of wood containing various tree species.
Its counterpart is engineered wood flooring, which, in contrast to solid wood, consists of a hardwood veneer bonded to a synthetic core.
Solid wood floors typically feature tongue-and-groove construction on all four sides. This feature allows the planks to click together and hide gaps between them after installation.
Unlike engineered wood, a substantial amount of wood rests above the tongue of solid wood flooring. Therefore, solid wood floors may be sanded multiple times and are exceptionally sturdy and long-lasting.
These boards are best installed using glue and nail down or glue and screw-down to the subfloor. To do this, you can glue the board to the subfloor (concrete, sheet material, lumber and so on.) Also, you can use concealed nails driven at an angle through the tongues to secure the board to the subfloor.
The nailing technique typically functions best when fastening to wood such as floorboards or plywood. There are several different grades and finishes available for solid wood flooring. 100mm to 150mm in width and 18mm or 19mm in thickness are popular.
Varieties of Solid Wood
You can install solid hardwood floors comprising any of the following materials:
The fine wood of a Brazilian Cherry tree looks reddish-brown or russet and has a medium to coarse texture. It has a longer acclimatization period than usual but is slightly more stable than red oak. Also, it’s great density makes it more challenging to cut.
Cork, the bark of a variety of oak trees, is available in a wide range of colours. You’ll find it in colours varying from dark to light, and it has a distinctive but recognizable grain. Sustainability, durability, and comfortable cushioning make it a popular choice for solid hardwood flooring.
Although it’s grass by scientific definition, bamboo is so dense and heavy that it’s more commonly known as wood. Since bamboo is quickly replenished, it has gained favour among eco-friendly architects. If you cut a bamboo tree today, you’ll have a fully grown tree in 3-4 years.
Bamboo is available in a wide range of colours, from dark to light tones of yellow and manila. Also, the grain pattern reveals the bamboo stalk’s nodes.
Wenge, a virtually black wood native to Africa, is a precious commodity due to its scarcity and rising demand as an interior design element. In addition, it’s not always easy to cut and sometimes calls for carbide blades. Nevertheless, it makes one of the most durable hardwood floors.
This African wood, known as Bubinga Burgundy, has a beautiful red hue, a tight grain, and saws with ease. However, it cracks when pounded with mechanical instruments; therefore, hammering it by hand is the most effective method.
This wood’s hue fades from a range of pink to burgundy red to a medium brown-red as time passes. Its cuts usually require carbide tools due to its extreme hardness.
Related Article: Can you use Engineered Wood Flooring in a Bathroom?
The Major Differences Between Engineered and Solid Wood Flooring
Engineered and solid wood flooring may appear similar. But they have significant differences. Therefore, we’ll be highlighting them in this section.
Engineered vs Solid Wood Flooring: Construction Method
Hardwood species are the norm for the materials used in solid wood flooring’s long planks. Tongues and grooves are milled on opposite edges so the boards can interlock when they’re put together.
In every case, you must fasten solid hardwood planks to the subfloor. And this act is a task that calls for a certain degree of expertise. On the plus side, this flooring is sandable and refinishable multiple times because it’s solid wood.
On the other hand, the construction of engineered wood flooring happens with a thin layer of hardwood glued over a layer of high-quality plywood to achieve a realistic look and superior stability. Compared to solid wood flooring, engineered wood floors are less expensive and easier to install by yourself, and they can endure for up to 30 years.
Engineered Vs Solid Wood Flooring
|Engineered Hardwood||Solid Hardwood|
|Life Span||20 to 40 years||30 to 100 years|
|Cost||$3 to $14 per square foot||$8 to $15 per square foot|
|Sanding, Refinishing||Once or twice
|2 or 3 times over the life of the floor|
|Damp Conditions||Good resistance to warping||May warp in humid,|
|Plank Thickness||3/8 to 9/16 inch||About 3/4 inch|
|Plank Width||2 1/4 to 7 inches||2 1/4 to 4 inches|
|Plank Length||12 to 84 inches||12 to 60 inches|
|Installation Method||Nail down, floating, or glue-down||Nail down, tongue-and-groove|
Planks for solid hardwood flooring are often thinner than those for engineered hardwood. Compared to engineered hardwood, solid hardwood typically has tighter seams between boards and a wider variety of species and colour options.
Engineered hardwood flooring typically features broader planks. While solid hardwood flooring often has very tight seams between boards, some pre-finished engineered hardwood planks have slightly bevelled edges, resulting in minor grooves between boards. Compared to solid hardwood, the colour and species options for engineered hardwood flooring is more limited.
In terms of appearance, Engineered and solid wood have satisfying looks. Your choice now boils down to which feels best to you.
Waterproof and Heatproof
In terms of heat resistance, both varieties of hardwood perform admirably. Unfortunately, neither of these materials is precisely suitable to damp environments. But with planned and proper maintenance, they may last well in wet areas.
You shouldn’t install solid hardwood flooring up against a concrete slab. This precaution is because the wood will expand and warp due to moisture from the concrete below.
Its plywood structure makes engineered hardwood more solid and less susceptible to warping. Therefore, it performs somewhat better in humid environments. Engineered hardwood is usually the preference of most installers for use when installing over a concrete subfloor.
Engineered hardwood excels in both areas. And the slight edge is because its plywood subfloor is more resistant to moisture damage and warping.
It only takes a quick sweep or vacuum and an occasional damp wipe with a wood cleaner to keep solid hardwood flooring looking great. Meanwhile, maintaining engineered hardwood floors will take sweeping, vacuuming and the occasional damp mopping with a wood cleaner.
Both floors are easy to maintain and only need sweeping and mopping with a manufacturer-approved wood floor cleaner. When cleaning a wooden floor, never use plenty of water or steam.
Sanding and Refinishing
Since solid hardwood can be sanded and polished multiple times, it has a modest advantage in this regard.
Once, maybe twice, but no more, is how many times you can refinish an engineered hardwood floor before the top hardwood layer is completely bad.
Solid hardwood flooring has the upper hand because it can be sanded and refinished multiple times. Pre-finished versions of both floorings are the most long-lasting because they already feature a tough, factory-applied finish.
Each solid hardwood flooring plank is blind-nailed to the subfloor via the tongues along the boards’ edges. This nailing is easy when you use a tongue-and-groove system.
Some engineered wood planks use the same nail-down procedures as solid hardwood, while others feature “click-lock” borders and can be installed as a “floating floor.”
Even if you have a concrete subfloor, you can install engineered wood flooring using adhesive. DIY enthusiasts favour engineered wood flooring because of its installation convenience.
Compared to solid hardwood that requires a nail gun installation, the click-lock or glue-down varieties of engineered hardwood are top preferences for do-it-yourselfers.
A square foot of prefinished solid hardwood may cost anywhere from $4 to $12. In comparison to genuine hardwood, the cost of engineered hardwood flooring is lower. Most types of engineered hardwood flooring may sell between $4 and $7 per square foot, with a median price of around $6.50 per square foot.
When comparing these two options, engineered hardwood flooring edges out of solid wood. But it’s only by a small margin. Installing either type of flooring may add $3 to $10 per square foot, depending on local labour rates and the intricacy of the room’s design.
Due to its possibility of being sanded down and polished multiple times, solid hardwood flooring can have a lifespan of at least 30 years and possibly as long as 100 years.
Longevity estimates put the lifespan of engineered hardwood flooring between 20 and 30 years.
Solid hardwood flooring wins in terms of durability because of its ability to be sanded and refinished multiple times.
Hardwood floor boards typically range from 12 to 84 inches and measure 3/4 inches thick and 2 1/4 inches wide. Solid hardwood flooring is typically no more than 4 inches wide. However, other thicknesses and widths are available.
Boards of 3/8 to 9/16 inches in thickness are typical for engineered hardwood. Wider boards of up to 7 inches in width and lengths of 12 to 60 inches are common for engineered hardwood too.
There’s no clear victor here unless you have strong preferences for either narrower boards (solid hardwood) or wider boards ( engineered hardwood flooring).
House Resale Value
Although there’s no discernible visual difference between solid and engineered hardwood, real estate agents and home-buyers may place more value on a solid hardwood floor due to its higher durability.
Although purchasers may be aware of the shorter lifespan of engineered hardwood floors, this is not usually a deal-breaker. Engineered hardwood will have the same resale value as solid wood flooring. Both solid and engineered hardwood flooring are high-quality options that’ll increase your home’s resale value.
Related Article: What Is The Cost of Installing Engineered Hardwood Floors?
In the past, engineered wood flooring was a cheap substitute for solid hardwood. But now, thanks to advancements in manufacturing, that stigma no longer exists.
The pedigree of solid wood is due to its prestige and proven track record of increasing a home’s value and longevity. Nevertheless, engineered wood flooring has recently emerged as a superior option too. Its affordability and installation simplicity are perks it projects amongst its many features.
It doesn’t matter which you choose between engineered and solid hardwood floors. Both will do well for you. But you need to ensure you buy original flooring products for installation. And we’re available to meet that need.
Check out our online store at LV Flooring for a catalogue of both engineered and solid hardwood flooring options. We not only offer top-notch materials. We also offer speedy delivery and specialized installation services.
Contact (416) 665-5645 to make a purchase today.