Engineered vs Solid Hardwood Flooring: The True Difference

Updated: July 17th, 2023

When updating floors, we often get asked the difference between engineered hardwood and solid hardwood. Although both engineered and solid hardwood offer an alluring sophistication to your home, they differ in several fundamental ways, including both construction and functionality. The needs of your family and lifestyle will help you determine which hardwood choice is right for you.

Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood: Construction

Both engineered and solid hardwood originate from a specific species of tree, such as oak, hickory, Brazilian cherry, or sapele. But how they are constructed is completely different. Solid hardwood is made from a single piece of wood, while engineered hardwood is made from distinct several layers of different wood. Although there is a structural difference between engineered hardwood and solid hardwood, both are considered high quality.

Engineered Hardwood Construction

Solid Hardwood Construction

Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood: Which is More Durable?

The construction of any flooring has a big impact on its durability. Engineered hardwood has several layers of hardwood, plywood, and a high definition fiber core. These layers are fused together with intense heat and pressure, providing a more durable construction than solid wood. This also means that engineered hardwood is less likely to expand or shrink. However, because it has a thin protective surface layer, sanding engineered hardwood is only recommended once or twice over a couple decades.

As for solid hardwood… sand away! Since it’s made from one piece of wood, it can be sanded and stained as necessary. It doesn’t have a thin layer that can wear off, giving it a better chance of extended longevity if properly maintained. However, unlike engineered hardwood, it’s more likely to expand or shrink depending on room humidity levels. A solid piece of wood is much more sensitive to environmental factors than a multi-tiered engineered floor.

Keep in mind that even though engineered wood is less likely to shrink and expand due to humidity, it is best to avoid putting any type of real hardwood in high moisture areas such as a kitchen or bathroom. As for standing water, keep a clean towel nearby in the event of a spill.

While they may differ in durability, both types of hardwood tend to keep dust, dirt, mold, and other allergens at bay. Also look for premium surface treatments, such as Aluminum Oxide, to help protect your investment from scratches, scuffs, and stains.

Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood Installation: How and Where?

How: There are various ways floors can be installed, but it all depends on the type of flooring you’re putting in your home. Solid hardwood can only be installed using nails. However, engineered can be installed using staples, glue, or float (using the lock method).

Where: Because of its layered protection against humidity, engineered hardwood can work well over concrete in places like the basement and can even work near radiant heat. Solid, on the other hand, should be reserved for upper levels of the home. It’s a great way to enhance the look of your living room, dining room, and even bedroom areas.

What’s Your Species? Choose from a Wide Selection of Engineered and Solid Hardwood

Now that you know the technical stuff, it’s time to get to the fun details—style! Both hardwoods are available in various wood species that can upgrade the look of your home. Empire Today offers engineered hardwood in birch, Brazilian cherry, elm, oak, American hickory, sapele, and small leaf acacia. Our solid hardwoods are available in red oak, oak, white oak, and small leaf acacia. Explore our different wood species and their styles to see which would look great in your home!

In the end, there are key differences between engineered hardwood and solid hardwood, but they both can help give your home a modern and sophisticated wood look. If you want to know more about both hardwood options and examine the differences up close, Schedule a FREE In-Home Estimate!

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