Hardwood flooring has decisively stood the test of time in that they are the oldest type of flooring that have existed for literally centuries.
This is because hardwood flooring is by far the most impressive-looking type of flooring and if you take the time, money, and energy to maintain them properly, they will last the longest among any given floor.
Hardwood flooring has evolved over the decades and centuries that it has existed, and this evolution has arrived at two distinct types: Solid hardwood and engineered hardwood.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between engineered hardwood and solid hardwood by paying attention to its surface alone, but differences indeed exist between the two, and they cannot be ignored.
The differences between engineered and solid hardwood are indeed subtle since they both look the same on the surface. But these differences do exist, and exploring them is necessary before you make a decision on installing a hardwood floor.
Fortunately, these differences are not too difficult to detect if you are willing to look beyond the surface of any given hardwood floor.
Knowing about these differences will serve as a definitive guide to which type of hardwood floor is best for you.
Ignore them, and you will be missing out on necessary information that you will likely need to make a quality decision about whether you should get an engineered hardwood floor or a solid one.
It is a good idea to lightly define engineered hardwood and solid hardwood before exploring the major differences between the two. This will provide a basic understanding that is necessary.
What is engineered hardwood?
Despite what its name suggests, engineered hardwood is not very complicated in its design.
An engineered hardwood floor is created from cutting two different pieces of wood: Plywood to function as an additional subfloor, and a thinner slice of hardwood itself which is then placed on top of the plywood.
This accomplishes two major things. First, it “adds” installation methods to the floor, making it possible to be installed on a floating basis. Installation methods such as fold-and-locking or gluing are what is meant by a “floating basis.”
The second thing this does is make the floor dimensionally stable, meaning it can handle moisture better. This greatly reduces an engineered hardwood floor’s tendency to warp or flex when coming in contact with moisture.
These are two things about engineered hardwood that stand out. They will dictate the major differences that it possesses when measured against solid hardwood.
Solid hardwood also has a couple of features that make it stand out.
What is solid hardwood?
The reason why solid hardwood is called “solid” is because it is cut from one piece of wood and only one piece of wood.
This one piece is then installed by being stapled or nailed down to the subfloor. Because there is only one piece of wood involved, this makes solid hardwood very thick and durable.
It also means that solid hardwood is available in many different selections. It is much easier for a floor to be constructed when cutting from one piece of wood rather than two.
Another thing that you should know about solid hardwood is that since it is only cut from one piece of wood and available in different selections, it is also possible to select from a wide hardness range.
The harder and thicker solid hardwood is, the more times it can be sanded down for resurfacing purposes. This is another thing that you need to remember about solid hardwood.
Now that you know the very basic differences between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood, it is now time to explore some major and specific differences between the two.
Before exploring these differences, keep in mind that one type of hardwood floor is not necessarily better than the other. These differences are meant to be seen in an objective sense to see which floor is best for which rooms. There are three categories of hardwood flooring where there are distinct differences between engineered and solid hardwood. These will now be explored.
Difference Between Engineered Hardwood & Solid Hardwood
Moisture levels and absorption
The first thing that really brings out the differences between engineered hardwood and solid hardwood is moisture absorption.
Knowing about moisture absorption is important because different rooms contain different kinds of moisture levels.
Temperatures inside and outside of a building also affect how much moisture any given room contains.
This can have an affect on which kind of hardwood floor you want to install.
In areas that contain a lot of moisture, you’ll want to select engineered hardwood. Because it uses two different pieces of wood to construct, this enables it to be more stable in their dimensions.
Solid wood does not carry this property, and it will not deal with moisture well.
Select engineered hardwood if you desire hardwood flooring for a room that you know will contain a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms, basements, or any other room where moisture comes with the terrirory.
Sanding options and methods
Recall that engineered hardwood uses plywood as well as your choice of wood planks to construct.
This affects the surface of engineered hardwood greatly. This means that you have very limited sanding options and methods at your disposal.
If you sand down engineered hardwood only a couple of times, the thin upper layer will wear away. And this is if you sand the engineered hardwood lightly.
Any kind of hardwood floor will break down after being sanded, but you can sand solid hardwood multiple times before it begins to break down. You also do not need to lightly sand solid hardwood, and you can often be as intense as you like in your sanding methods with solid hardwood.
A lot of this is related to the fact that solid hardwood is much thicker than engineered hardwood.
If you believe that you will be sanding down your hardwood floor for any reason multiple times, go for solid hardwood.
This is perhaps the most subtle difference between engineered and solid hardwood, as both are very durable in their own right.
Engineered hardwood will scratch, chip, and de-laminate very easily because of how much thinner it is compared to solid hardwood.
However, experts will argue that engineered hardwood is actually more durable than solid hardwood because of how well it can handle moisture.
When it comes to long term maintenance, however, engineered hardwood is a one-trick pony in that all it can really do is absorb moisture really well.
If you properly maintain solid hardwood and keep it away from places that encounter a lot of water or moisture, they will last much longer than engineered hardwood.
This is true even if you maintain your engineered hardwood floor just as much as your solid wood floor.
Engineered hardwood and solid hardwood are both durable in their own ways, it just depends on what room the floors were installed in.
Anyone who believes that engineered hardwood is better than solid hardwood or vice versa is mistaken.
They are both optimized for different roles when it comes to flooring, and if you pay attention to the objective differences between them instead of being biased towards one or the other.
You’ll want to turn to engineered hardwood for rooms that deal with a lot of moisture. The dual-layer design of engineered hardwood allows for their planks to absorb moisture a lot more than solid hardwood.
You’ll want to choose solid hardwood if you know that you will need to sand it many times. Engineered hardwood is just not designed to be sanded many times before it deteriorates.
Again, these two types of hardwood flooring serve different purposes. When you know exactly what the differences between them are, you’ll be able to decide which is best for which room.