Anyone who has done a renovation or built a house knows that myriad decisions have to be made along the way. Thankfully, when it’s time to choose a floor covering, most people know what they want. So if you’ve decided to go with real wood (great choice, by the way), the next question is: engineered hardwood versus solid wood hardwood?
What . . . another decision?!? Not to worry, as manufacturers of both, we know their ins and outs. So here’s a quick primer on real wood flooring, as well as a few pros and cons, to help you decide what might work best for you.
Manufacturing basics: solid wood vs. engineered wood flooring
Solid wood is just that; it’s cut from a solid piece of wood. Often in a tongue and groove profile, thickness is typically about ¾ of an inch. Engineered wood is made of a veneer of wood glued on top of a layer of plywood or, less commonly, solid wood. (Industry standard for the veneer is usually a bit less than 1/8-inch thickness, whereas ours is ¼-inch thick.) Again it can have a tongue and groove profile or can be a click-lock technology.
Comparing the benefits of engineered wood flooring and solid wood flooring
With engineered flooring, because the underlayer is pressure bonded “bi-directionally” (meaning the grains of the layers are glued so that they run horizontally then vertically), the flooring is less likely to expand and contract due to temperature or humidity. If a floor is going down over concrete with radiant heat, engineered wood has greater stability.
While solid wood is slightly less stable, it offers more options in terms of dimensions. Different producers work with different dimensions; at Woodland Flooring, our lengths run up to ten feet and widths are up to eight inches.
Solid wood flooring is 100% natural. There are no glues and there is less energy used during the manufacturing, so it’s very eco-friendly. (That being said, at Woodland Flooring the glues used to bond our engineered floor are all non-toxic.) Also, refinishing solid wood is never a problem, but could potentially be an issue with an engineered floor if the veneer isn’t very thick.
Appearance and price . . . is there a difference?
In terms of look and feel, you truly can’t see a difference between the engineered and solid, and there is no discernible distinction to the touch. In the case of expense, it depends on the plank size, cost of the wood being used, shipping and installation fees, so that’s where you have to do your homework and make some comparisons.
Because their look and feel are virtually identical, typically the choice between solid and engineered wood comes down to price and climatic conditions. Whichever one you go with, make sure your manufacturer uses finishing products that are good for the health of the planet and your family. And remember that buying something locally reduces the chance of any major acclimatization issues. (Not to mention its social and environmental benefits!)