While they are both a great investment for a home, choosing between engineered or solid hardwood flooring depends on a few important factors. Knowing the differences between the two can help you make the choice. Solid vs. engineered refers only to the construction of the boards. However, the species and patina selections are similar for each.
When choosing between installing solid or engineered flooring, consider the following factors. First, the location of the floor, and then, whether your structure resides in a high humid climate. Also consider how many times you anticipate refinishing the floor.
SOLID HARDWOOD FLOORING
A solid hardwood flooring board is milled from one piece of wood from top to bottom. One major difference between solid wood and engineered wood flooring is that solid flooring can be sanded and re-finished many times over the lifetime of the wood.
Solid flooring is durable, which gives a longevity to floors that is hard to beat. If properly maintained, they can be a beautiful feature that sustains the wear and tear of everyday life. It isn’t uncommon for solid wood flooring to last 100 years or more.
Like a sponge, wood will absorb and release moisture. Drastic changes in temperatures and high humidity levels can lead to this expanding and contracting in wood. This causes cupping and crowning. Since it is solid wood, the boards may expand and contract with humidity differences in a home. This is something to keep in mind if you live in particularly humid climate.
The sub floor is an important factor when installing solid floors. Knowing what is below the flooring is key to making a decision. Moisture barriers will need to be added to sub floors, especially if the solid flooring is being installed over concrete.
With solid antique wood flooring, there will be random length boards. Knowing that, there will be some on-site sanding that will need to take place.
The wood species and foot traffic will determine the amount of times the floor will need to be refinished. Solid hardwood flooring is a wonderful option if you are looking for longevity.
Engineered flooring has a thinner solid wood lamella (also known as the wear layer) bonded onto a piece of plywood. The plywood layers are stacked in a cross-grain formation. The solid hardwood lamella is then bonded on top with glue, heat and pressure. This process is why it’s less likely to change with varying moisture levels.
The construction of the hardwood bonded to the multiple layers of high-density fiber boards makes this type of flooring incredibly stable. It makes it more resistant to high and low moisture or fluctuating humidity levels. This makes it a better option if you are installing it in a basement or in a humid climate. It won’t expand and contract like solid wood flooring will.
Engineered flooring is more environmentally sustainable. It uses considerably less hardwood overall.
Depending on the thickness of the wear layer, engineered flooring can be sanded at least once or twice. It cannot be repeatedly sanded over a lifetime, like the solid flooring. Revient engineered flooring has a 5mm wear layer on our 3/4″ thick flooring, and a 3.5 mm wear layer on our 5/8″ thick flooring. This is much thicker than the industry standard engineered flooring, which allows for several re-finishes.
Several factors must be analyzed before determining whether you want to use solid or engineered flooring. Longevity of the floor, potential for exposure to moisture, and future maintenance are all worth thoughtful consideration.
Solid flooring can be refinished multiple times, which is a primary benefit. The primary benefit of engineered flooring is it’s stability. The species and patina of the wood is your first choice. Then, consider where it will be installed. Softer woods are more likely to show wear and tear sooner, especially woods with a smooth patina and in a high traffic area,. A harder species with some texture or is in a lower traffic area, will not show as much wear and tear.
Professional, experienced flooring installers are relied on for their expert advice on installation methods and preferences based on each individual project. After installed, there is no way to tell the difference between a quality solid floor vs. a quality engineered floor. Either way, a beautiful custom floor is a timeless addition to any space.