Hardwood is the most popular flooring material due to its illustrious colors and rich textures, granting it a highly sought-after quality of sophistication. The same can be said for engineered hardwood, which has the same appearance as genuine solid hardwood and acts as a strong alternative for DIY home improvers on a budget. Which one is the right choice for your unique situation and goals? According to professional flooring experts like this Asheville hardwood flooring company, these are the key differences to know between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring.
Structure & Installation
Let’s start by defining solid hardwood and engineered hardwood in terms of their structure and installation methods. Solid hardwood is a thick panel made entirely from woods like oak, cherry, walnut, or hickory. Installation of solid hardwood planks is fairly straightforward since the edges are cut to form depressions that interlace with one another. However, the panels must be nailed into the subfloor, a process that often requires a degree of professional expertise.
Engineered hardwood consists of a sublayer of plywood topped with a thin layer of solid hardwood. Some varieties must be nailed down into the subfloor, but others can be glued to concrete subflooring or clicked and locked into place as a floating floor. These latter types are simple enough to do on your own without professional help.
Lasting from 30 to 100 years, solid hardwood takes the crown in longevity. Plus, solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished as many times as its thickness allows, which gives it a distinct competitive edge over their relatively equal durability. Engineered hardwood comes in second with a 20- to 40-year lifespan. Because engineered hardwood only has that thin top layer of solid hardwood, it is more vulnerable to chipping but can only be sanded and refinished once.
At $8 to $15 per square foot, solid hardwood is generally more expensive than engineered hardwood at $3 to $14 per square foot. Notice that these ranges do have a considerable amount of overlap. Do your due diligence and shop around. You may find an absolutely regal solid hardwood that is, in fact, cheaper than your top choice for engineered hardwood. Or, you may find an engineered hardwood for a few dollars less with the same look and feel as the solid hardwood variety.
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In this department, engineered hardwood comes out on top. The plywood layers of engineered hardwood criss-cross, giving it higher resistance to temperature and humidity fluctuations. This means that it is less prone to warping and buckling than solid hardwood. While neither is recommended for highly wet environments, such as the kitchen or the bathroom, solid hardwood is especially sensitive to water and humidity.
Unless you are buying solid hardwood from a reputable company certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, engineered hardwood will generally be the most eco-friendly option. Not only does engineered hardwood require less energy to fabricate, but it also produces less waste in the process.
If money is no issue, then you may have already set your heart on solid hardwood flooring, given its superior longevity and value in the housing market. Yet, engineered hardwood gives its solid competitor a run for its money with advantages in water resistance, eco-friendliness and cost. Ease of installation makes engineered hardwood a DIY enthusiast’s happy challenge. Otherwise, you’d be better off hiring professional flooring services to install your solid hardwood. All in all, the right choice for your home depends on what you personally value most: structure, cost, water resistance, longevity, installation or eco-friendliness.