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Engineered VS Solid Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Floors are one of the most sought after upgrades for homeowners today. Hardwood floors can add beauty and value to any home. There is a huge variety of different types of hardwood floors available on the market but the very first choice to make when shopping for a hardwood floor, is the choice between Engineered Hardwood or Solid Hardwood. Each has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Q. What is solid hardwood flooring?

A. Solid hardwood flooring is always made from one single piece of hardwood. While the great majority of solid hardwood flooring is 3/4″ thick, the thinner solids, such as 1/2″ thick and 5//16″ thick hardwood flooring are growing in popularity. Solid hardwood is recommended for installation over plywood, OSB or other wooden sub-floors. Solid wood flooring is usually not recommended for installation over concrete slabs or areas beneath the surface such as a basement floor. Solid wood floors come in a variety of different woods and finishes. Some of it comes unfinished which gives you the option to choose your own custom color and gloss level, although sanding and finishing a hardwood floor can prove difficult for the do-it-yourself-er. Another option is to buy prefinished solid hardwood flooring that comes completely finished from the factory with several coats of extremely durable finish. Solid hardwood flooring that is prefinished just needs to be nailed or stapled down, and you’re ready to enjoy it right away!

Typically, solid wood floors are more expensive than engineered wood floors (not always) but they can add more value to a home than engineered flooring, because of the general public’s misconception that solid hardwood flooring is “better” or more “real” than engineered hardwood flooring. The biggest downside to solid hardwood flooring again is the cost which makes hiring a professional an important consideration as attempting to install it yourself can end up costing you more money in the long run.
Solid hardwood flooring prices can fluctuate drastically based on the type of hardwood being used, the grade of the lumber that is used, how wide the flooring planks are, and whether the flooring is prefinished or unfinished.

Q. What is Engineered hardwood flooring?

A. Engineered Hardwood flooring is made up of several layers of hardwood that are glued together to create floor planks. Essentially, a hardwood flooring manufacturer will start with a plywood substrate, and adhere the hardwood veneer to the surface, and mill the tongue and groove into the sides and ends of the planks, creating an engineered hardwood floor.

The most common thickness of engineered wood floors is 3/8″, although engineered hardwood flooring is available as thin as 1/4″ and as thick as 3/4″. The advantage to this engineered flooring is that it can resist the damages of job-site moisture and fluctuations in humidity levels. In some areas where solid hardwood flooring would warp and bow, engineered hardwood flooring will remain flat and straight. When a 3/4″ thick piece of hardwood is exposed to excess humidity in the air or moisture in the sub-floor, it has no choice but to bend and/or warp, know as “cupping”. Because engineered flooring is comprised of several, thinner pieces of hardwood, glued together in a “criss-cross” pattern, this type of wood flooring is much more stable and capable of handling higher humidity and moisture levels without visible movement and warping of the planks. This makes this flooring type extremely suitable for low areas such as a basements, and installation over concrete slabs and in-floor radiant heating systems.

Engineered hardwood flooring comes in a variety of shades, colors and patterns and can often be impossible to tell the difference between its solid hardwood counterparts. The advantage of engineered hardwood is it’s inevitable stability while in-service, and that it makes it possible for one to have a real hardwood floor in their basement, or over a concrete slab sub-floor, or radiant heating system.

Q. So what is best for me? Engineered Hardwood or Solid Hardwood?

A. While it is hard to say for sure that either one is better for you, it is safe to say that engineered hardwood can be used anywhere that solid hardwood can be used, but it cannot be said the other way around. In other words, if you are concerned about the moisture levels in your sub-flooring, or if you need hardwood flooring in a humid area, or a basement, then engineered flooring is the way to go. If you insist on having 3/4″ thick hardwood under your feet, and you are very concerned with adding value to your home, then solid hardwood may be the solution for you. As always, consult with a professional installer in your area, and click here to shop our huge collections of Solid Hardwood flooring and Engineered Hardwood flooring now!

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