Engineered wood floors (also called composite wood floors) are composed of boards or veneers of wood, bonded together with adhesives or other methods of fixation. Although engineered wood floor gives the same natural look like a solid hardwood floor, they are in fact very different. Here’s an essential summary of the pros and cons of each flooring type:
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood floors, as the name suggests, are made from solid, natural wood. The entire plank is made from wood and it is the only material used during manufacturing. There is a wide variety of wood species to choose from, depending on the look you want and the room in which you choose to install it. Modern hardwood is typically made with a tongue and groove system for easy installation.
Why choose solid hardwood flooring?
- Even though hardwood flooring is almost always more expensive, no one can argue with how gorgeous it looks and how special it feels when you walk on it
- Solid hardwood floors increase the resale value of your house, which is a serious consideration when you’re planning a renovation project
Why not choose solid hardwood flooring?
- Although hardwood floors are easy to sand and refinish, they require a lot of maintenance in order to keep them looking great
- They are easier to damage than other floor types, which can be a bit of a problem for families with small children or pets
- Hardwood floors dent pretty easily (by walking with high heel shoes or dropping a heavy object on the floor)
- They should not get wet or the boards will swell and expand
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Due to its construction method, engineered hardwood is more dimensionally stable than solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood will not contract or expand as much as solid hardwood due to changes in humidity or temperature. Engineered hardwood flooring is made by gluing a real hardwood veneer to a core board made of either plywood or high-density fiberboard.
Why choose engineered hardwood flooring?
- Engineered hardwood is generally less expensive than solid hardwood
- You can install engineered flooring on all grades, including below grade
- Engineered flooring can be installed over radiant heat & over a concrete subfloor
- Engineered flooring can be floated
The plywood core can be made with anywhere from 2 to 10 plies. The more plies, the more stable the board is; while the 3-ply board is not as stable as a 5-ply board, this is not the sole deciding factor unless the flooring is going to be used over a radiant floor heating system. Regarding the costs, the more plies in the plywood, the higher the price. A high-density fiberboard core is more dimensionally stable than a plywood core.
Factors you should consider before deciding on Solid or Engineered hardwood flooring:
Location: There are 3 basic location categories where you can install hardwood flooring:
- On grade: at ground level
- Above grade: any second level or higher
- Below grade: any floor below ground level, including basements or sunken living rooms
Traditional solid hardwood flooring can be damaged by moisture, therefore is not well suited for below-grade installations. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is constructed to have enhanced stability that allows it to be installed at any grade level.
Type of subfloor: If you plan to install hardwood flooring over concrete, you have to use an engineered product to ensure structural integrity.