What Is The Difference Between Hardwood And Engineered Hardwood?
Last Updated: June 5, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford
One of the most common questions we are asked by new customers is to compare and explain the main differences between engineered hardwood vs solid hardwood flooring. In this flooring report we will dissect and clarify the most important differences, paying particular attention to the questions of durability, price, longevity.
Before making a final decision call in a local professional for their advice.
If you’re interested in buying hardwood flooring we suggest you start your search with an online retailer.
- Durability– When it comes to choosing pre-finished wood flooring you will find that both engineered and solid hardwood floors offer great durability and a long lifespan. With regards to surface wear and tear it is more important that you research what kind of finish is to be added to your flooring as it is the finish that provides the main protection. And for a floor that holds up well against dents and dinks it is the hardness of the wood species that you need to consider.
- Lifespan – As for lifespan, if you buy a decent engineered hardwood with a good thick wear layer there really isn’t much to choose between engineered and solid wood floors. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, there are only so many times you can re-finish a solid wood plank simply because once you sand down close to the tongue and groove you can’t go any further. So choosing an engineered wood with a thick wear layer will serve you just as well as solid wood.
- Price – There is a misconception that solid hardwood floors cost more than engineered hardwoods but this is not always the case. Yes, typically if you are comparing, say, a solid red oak hardwood floor with a similar red oak engineered floor then the solid red oak will be more expensive. On the other hand if you compare the same red oak solid wood with a high quality exotic engineered wood like Tigerwood then it is the engineered flooring that will cost more. Your best option is to set your budget and then see what is available in both types of flooring and choose the one that best suits your style.
- Installation – When it comes to installing pre-finished wood flooring there’s not a lot to choose between solid wood and engineered wood. It is the installation of unfinished solid hardwood that takes the most time due to the sanding and application of finish layers on-site. The main things to remember with pre-finished solid hardwood is that your planks will need time to acclimate in your home before being installed.
- Stability – Talking of acclimatization, the really big difference between solid wood flooring and engineered flooring is the way each reacts to moisture. Because of the way engineered flooring is constructed it is far more resistant to the expansion and contraction that occurs with solid wood planks. Solid wood swells and shrinks with the changes in humidity, taking on moisture during the humid months and drying out during the cold winter months. In fact if you live in a particularly dry or humid region then you would be well advised to consider engineered wood floors first. The same applies to wood floor installation below ground level and over concrete.
- Appearance – There is barely any difference in appearance between pre-finished solid and pre-finished engineered wood simply because the top wear layer of an engineered plank is made from the same material as a solid wood plank. In fact if you are looking for differences in appearance you should take a look at the difference between pre-finished and site-finished solid hardwood. All pre-finished floors have bevelled edges while site finished floors do not. Whether bevelled edges are more attractive than un-bevelled edges is a matter of personal taste.
As you can see from the above information, unless you have a home with very high or very low humidity, or are laying planks below ground level or over concrete, there really isn’t much to choose between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. So start by working out how many square feet you need to cover and how much you can afford per square foot. Armed with this information you can then browse any reputable flooring retailer to get a sense of which solid or engineered floor product you can afford. You might also be interested to look at our guide 5 Ways to Pay for New Flooring in your Home and or latest article on wood floor colors.
OTHER RELEVANT RESOURCES FOR PRE-FINISHED HARDWOOD FLOORING
- Coswick – Even more information on the differences between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood
- Stevish – What to expect from pre-finished floors – a great guide.
- GardenWeb – Read what other flooring customers have to say about engineered and solid wood flooring.
Do you have any experiences you can share on pre-finished hardwood floors. Either contact us direct or leave a comment below. All feedback greatly appreciated.
About the Author: Jamie Sandford
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction, followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business, he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”