If you are looking for beauty as well as durability, then hardwood flooring could be a perfect choice for your home.
But what is the difference between solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring? And which is the right choice for you?
Appearance-wise both look identical, they are also both made entirely of wood. Where they differ is their construction, and therefore how they react to the environment around them. Understanding these differences is the most effective way to decide which type of hardwood flooring is best for you.
What is Solid Hardwood Flooring?
Solid hardwood flooring is what it says on the tin. It is made of one single piece of 100% solid hardwood.
The benefit of choosing solid hardwood flooring is its ability to last a lifetime.
Solid hardwood is constructed of a single piece of wood normally ¾” thick. This thickness allows for it to withstand heavy footfall and high traffic. Any scratches or marks can be sanded away and the wood is able to be refinished numerous times, making solid hardwood flooring a lifelong choice.
Where solid hardwood falls short is it’s weakness to moisture.
Water is the enemy of solid hardwood floors. Due to the nature of the solid wood the water can seep in and damage it from above and below.
A hot room can dry out the wood and cause it to shrink. A cold room will absorb moisture into the wood and it will expand. This shrinking and expanding causes a lot of damage to the flooring over time, making it buckle, gap or crack.
What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?
Engineered hardwood is also made from 100% wood, where it differs is that it is not one single piece, it is layered.
Engineered hardwood is made from several layers of wood normally resulting in a thickness of ⅜” to ½”.
There is a top layer of solid hardwood veneer. Underneath this top layer is a core of HDF, plywood or sometimes softwood.
This layered structure makes it dimensionally stable. All the layers run in different directions in a “cross wire” making it much more stable and therefore less reactive towards moisture.
This makes engineered hardwood flooring a great choice because it is resilient to water, making it much more practical in a home where you can lay it in every room.
Although the layered structure does greatly improve the floors ability to withstand water it makes a sacrifice in terms of durability.
The fact that there is only a thin top layer of hardwood means that engineered hardwood can become chipped or scratched easier and can only be sanded once or twice before the thin top layer wears away.
Which Hardwood Floor is best for which room?
Due to the nature of solid hardwood flooring and how it expands and contracts when in the presence of moisture and humidity, it is not suitable for bathrooms and low level basements. It isn’t highly recommended for kitchens either because of the risk of water damage.
However due to how hardwearing it is, handling high traffic and heavy footfall, it is great in areas such as the hallway, dining room, bedrooms and any commercial areas such as businesses.
Due to engineered hardwood flooring’s unique construction it is far more stable and therefore less likely to buckle, gap or react to humidity and moisture. Therefore it is great in almost every room including bathrooms and basements. It also works well with underfloor heating.
What are the choices of wood for each type of hardwood flooring?
Solid hardwood has the most choices of wood species, almost any wood you can think of can be found as a hardwood flooring option, ranging from soft hardwood to hard hardwood.
The most popular would be red and white oak, pine, maple and hickory.
There are less choices for engineered hardwood due mainly to the fact that any softer hardwoods aren’t used and that it is still a newer flooring choice than hardwood.
The most popular engineered hardwood flooring would also be red oak and hickory.
The bottom line
Both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood are beautiful, durable and long lasting. It isn’t a matter of which is better, more which is better for you and the room in question of new flooring.
Solid hardwood will last a lifetime as long as it avoids moisture.
Engineered hardwood is versatile and practical although it doesn’t handle scratches and wear and tear as well.
Consider if moisture will be present, how long you want it to last, and if you are willing to have different styles in different rooms. Once you know the answer to these questions, hopefully your choice will be clear.