Solid verses Engineered Flooring
When you are choosing hardwood flooring for your new home there are two categories of flooring to choose from: solid and engineered. Solid is typically ¾” thick and is cut directly from logs. It is available in a variety of widths and available in many wood species. Engineered flooring on the other hand varies in thickness; with typical thicknesses of 3/8” to 5/8” and is made by laminating multiple layers of wood together in alternating directions with the top layer being the desired flooring material. It is also available in a variety of widths and available in many wood species.
So why the difference? When would you choose solid over engineered or vice-a-versa?
- Installation Location: You need to consider where the flooring will be installed. If the flooring will be installed on a wood subfloor as is typical on the first or second floor of most houses, then either product can be used. But if the installation is on a concrete floor such as in a basement or a slab on grade house, then engineered flooring is necessary. If a solid flooring is installed directly on concrete it will take on moisture from the concrete and cup, causing ripples in the finished floor. Engineered flooring on the other hand will remain dimensionally stable due to the alternating wood layers in the product.
- Floor Movement with Humidity: Engineered flooring is also a good choice as the widths of the flooring increase. Solid flooring expands and contracts seasonally with changes in humidity. The wider the flooring boards, the larger the expansion and contraction. Often this is seen as increased gaps between floor boards in the winter that disappear in the summer; only to reappear again the next winter. With the alternating wood layers in engineered flooring this seasonal variation is significantly reduced.
- Cost Effective: Engineered flooring can also be cost effective, especially for exotic wood species because there is less of the expensive wood in the product than having a full ¾” of the expensive wood.
- Refinish ability: Due to this thin veneer on engineered flooring, you should not count on being able to refinish the hardwood as you can with solid flooring. If you need to refinish your hardwood floors periodically due to pets or wear-and-tear then a solid flooring would be a better choice because it would typically allow for multiple refinishings before needing to be replaced.
Whichever type you choose, or need to use because of your subfloor, you can rest assured that both products will perform well and have been successfully used for years without trouble.