What Hardwood Flooring Should YOU Choose? In today’s Hardwood Flooring Industry there are two dominant styles of Hardwood, both very similar in certain aspects, yet very different in architecture and structure. In this case we’re talking about Engineered and the Solid Hardwood Flooring. If you’re looking for a new hardwood floor, then you’ve probably heard of these two hardwood flooring styles. This article explains the differences in structure, manufacturing and installation between Solid Hardwood Floors and Engineered Hardwood Floors. Here we will emphasize the main advantages and disadvantages of these two popular hardwood floors.
Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring – Different Manufacturing Methods Before we learn how these two floors are manufactured, we want to keep in mind one important aspect: both Engineered and Solid Hardwood Flooring are made with REAL Hardwood. The first and the most important difference between Solid Floors and Engineered Floors is within their manufacturing process. Solid Hardwood is manufactured from a solid piece of wood, which results in a solid piece of hardwood plank – one solid piece of material all the way through the Hardwood floor, from sawing the wood until installing the floors; it’s all one “Solid” piece.
On the other hand, Engineered Hardwood contains only one thin layer of real hardwood – which is the visible layer at the top of the plank. Engineered Flooring is made from multiple layers of softwood such as plywood or High Density Fibers (HDF), all glue down together with pressure, which results in a multi-layer plank with a top layer of pure Hardwood. So you would probably think that Solid Hardwood is a better choice because it contains a larger amount of real, pure hardwood... right? This is right in some circumstances, but definitely wrong in others. Engineered Hardwood Flooring was invented in order to overcome certain climate and environment problems Solid hardwood floors are sensitive too, such as moisture and high humidity areas.
Installing Engineered Hardwood Floors vs. Installing Solid Hardwood Floors One of the primary differences between these two Hardwood styles is within the installation process. Solid Hardwood Floors are very sensitive to moisture. When humidity levels are high, Solid Hardwood can cup (edges raised to a cup shape), crown (center inflate, edges slope down) and even crack. Due to this reason, it is highly not recommended to install a Solid Hardwood floor in an area with high levels of moisture, such as a bathroom, kitchen or basement. An Engineered Hardwood Floor is much more resistant and tolerant to moisture, humidity and can even withstand buckling and rippling. An Important aspect to remember about Hardwood is that there is no way to prevent the wood planks from expanding and contracting, since it’s a natural process wood undergoes when there are changing levels of humidity and moisture in the atmosphere. In Solid Hardwood flooring this process is much more visible because it affects each plank separately, while in Engineered Hardwood floors, the whole surface expands and contracts as one unit, which makes the gaps between the hardwood planks less visible. Most Engineered Hardwood Flooring can be installed using the Glue Down Installation Method or by nailing/stapling it down to another subfloor. Solid Hardwood Flooring must be nailed down or stapled down to a subfloor (Ex. Plywood). The glue-down system just doesn’t give Solid hardwood enough freedom to expand and contract, something that may cause cracks and defects on the Hardwood floor.
Bamboo Flooring is one type of Solid Hardwood Flooring that can be glued down like Engineered Hardwood flooring, as well as nailed or stapled down like Solid Hardwood flooring. Another advantage of Engineered Hardwood is that it can be installed directly on cement and/or concrete slabs. Solid Wood Floors must be nailed down to a subfloor surface and just can’t be laid directly onto concrete surfaces.
Another aspect and technique within Hardwood Flooring Installation is the Radiant Heat Flooring System. If you’re thinking of installing one, then you’ll probably want to go with the Engineered floors. Solid floors are just not a good combination with this kind of system.
Durability and Long-Standing of Engineered vs. Solid Wood Floors Usually, the primary influence on how long your hardwood floor is going to last depends on the type of finish on the Hardwood, rather than its style (Engineered and Solid). Most modern styles are Prefinished Hardwood Floors, both Engineered and Solid Hardwood, have comparable durability, but it truly depends on how the floors are finished by the manufacturer.
All of Woodcrafters Prefinished Hardwood Floors are finished with 8 Layers of Aluminum-Oxide to provide a proper and complete curing protective system that will enhance the durability of the coating over an extended period of years. Another large difference between Engineered Flooring and Solid Floors, when talking about life expectancy is the refinishing aspect. Solid Wood usually comes in a 3/4" Thickness, which allows you to re-sand it and refinish it for more than 5 times. This ensures you a product that can last for over 100 years! In Engineered Flooring this subject varies and depends completely on the thickness of the top layer of Hardwood. We strongly recommend that you stay away from Engineered Flooring products that have a very thin top layer of Hardwood. It will be very difficult to repair or change this floor to something else in the future. So if you are thinking ahead, Solid Hardwood flooring is probably a better choice for you, although today’s Engineered floors can lasts for many years as well. All Woodcrafters Engineered Hardwood Floors can be re-sanded and refinished at least three more times after installed.
What about the Price of Engineered Floors Comparing to Solid Floors? You might think that Engineered Hardwood Flooring will be cheaper or less costly than Solid Hardwood Flooring because there is only one thin piece of real hardwood on Engineered Hardwood. That’s right on some cases, especially when we’re talking about wide wood planks, where many high end and expensive hardwoods are being used to create Solid Hardwood planks. On the other hand, when talking about narrower wood planks, solid hardwood will probably be slightly cheaper, since the costs of manufacturing Engineered wood floors is higher. For example: White Oak Engineered Flooring with 3” wide planks will cost more than the same White Oak Solid Hardwood Flooring with the same width, while a wider size of 4” wide or 5” wide of Engineered Walnut Flooring for example, will be cheaper than it’s Solid counterpart. The price of both Engineered Hardwood Flooring and Solid Hardwood Flooring also depends on the wood species that is being used. There are more expensive species such as walnut, or the American Cherry and the Brazilian cherry for example, and there are the less expensive species such as the Red Oak and White Oak species, or even the Bamboo Flooring styles.
What about Design? Which Floor looks Better? Engineered or Solid floors? When we’re talking about look, design and what is more appealing or which style to choose, it is important to keep in mind that if the hardwood species, stain and finish are identical in both kinds of flooring, then it is almost impossible to tell the difference between Engineered flooring and Solid flooring.
Today, the Engineered Flooring industry is so advanced and developed that you can find any species, with any stain, in a variety of widths and thickness – all catered to fit the most unique of tastes and styles. Thanks to the fact that there is only one thin layer of hardwood on engineered floors, manufacturers can provide us with expensive wood species (such exotic wood species) and wider hardwood planks at a cheaper, more affordable price. Of course, there is huge variety within Solid Hardwood Flooring as well. It’s possible to find many new species, stained in a variety of different colors –in order to perfectly fit your tastes and preferences.
In Conclusion: With today’s developing technology, it’s possible to see a lot more Engineered Floors within the Hardwood flooring market that look stunning with real warmth and beauty that until now were associated only with Solid hardwood flooring. The fact that they both contain real hardwood, and once they’re installed they both look identical, makes the decision very hard. Actually, the most valuable consideration you must think about when choosing a floor style, is where the floor is going to be. Once you have decided, and understand what your options are, the only thing left to do is to go with your taste and desires.