When choosing your new hardwood floor, there is one important choice you're going to need to consider. Are you going to go with solid hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring?
Both options have their own distinct set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, engineered hardwood is harder and sturdier, but solid hardwood can be refinished more often. That's why we wrote this short article, to make sure you're informed and you have some insight as you choose your new hardwood floor. This way, you can know that you’re selecting the right hardwood flooring type for your specific needs.
Solid hardwood flooring is just what it sounds like, a solid strip milled from a single piece of timber. Its thickness varies from 3/4" to 5/16". The major advantage of solid wood is that it can be sanded and refinished again and again over the years, which cannot be said of engineered hardwood. Also, because solid hardwood is crafted from a single piece of wood, some people argue that it is a much more visually appealing option compared to engineered hardwood.
Solid is also more hypoallergenic and some say it’s the more environmentally friendly option because it doesn’t require any binding chemicals in its production. See the counter argument below.
On the other hand, solid hardwood expands and contracts over time depending on the home's humidity levels. To compensate for this fluctuation, installers will leave an expansion gap between the wall and the floor. To hide this small gap, base molding or quarter round is usually installed.
If you live in an especially humid area, this expanding and contracting can be noticeable and can even warp the floorboards. In this case, engineered hardwood might be a better option because it’s much less prone to this expansion.
Engineered hardwood flooring is manufactured by taking multiple strips of hardwood and layering, adhering them with pressure and heat. The top thin layer of wood, less than 1/8" thick, is the hardwood veneer. It’s this layer that gives it its appearance, while the body of the hardwood is generally made out of other woods.
The way engineered wood is constructed makes it more stable than solid hardwood. It won't expand and contract with changing humidity and moisture like solid wood will. It won't swell or warp which in turn means less maintenance for you to worry about. Because it is resistant to humidity and moisture, engineered flooring can be installed in the basement level of a home, unlike solid hardwood.
The downsides of engineered hardwood floors are few. First, most engineered hardwoods are prefinished, so you are stuck with the factory finish instead of getting to choose your own. Also, as we mentioned before engineered hardwood floors can only be re-sanded or refinished a few times before they start to lose quality in durability and appearance.
Finally, some consider engineered hardwood the more environmentally friendly flooring option. This is because the top layer of hardwood is sliced, not cut with a saw. This produces no sawdust, allowing more of the wood to be used. Also, the core wood used often comes from faster growing trees than solid hardwood, which means engineered hardwood is more sustainable.