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The Difference Between Solid Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Whether you’re moving into an old historic home that you’re about to renovate, or you’re upgrading a home you live in, and you’ve decided you want to have hardwood floors, it’s always a good idea to learn more about  your options before you finalize your decision. If you love to watch HGTV or peruse idea books you find on Houzz or look at the home design and other ideas on Pinterest for inspiration, you’ve probably seen and read a lot about solid hardwood, engineered hardwood and laminate flooring. While you may enjoy looking for inspiration or learning about new trends, the more information you find, the easier it is to get confused. The last thing you should allow yourself to do is to decide on the flooring you want in your house when you’re too confused to know what you’re doing. 

There’s no need to panic. We hope that this blog will help you learn as much as possible about the differences between Engineered Hardwood and Solid Hardwood flooring. We’ll also lay out all the positives and negatives about each type of flooring and help you understand the circumstances or situations for which engineered hardwood may be a better and more practical option.

What You Need to Know About Engineered Hardwood Floors 

Engineered hardwood floors were invented in the 1960s. In the years since engineered wood was first developed, roughly 30 percent of all wood flooring that is sold in the United States (including laminate), is engineered wood. 

Engineered wood floor boards or planks consists of layers (usually 3 to 5 layers,) of wood, plywood or wood byproducts. The outer layer, or veneer hardwood that is glued and secured to the inner core, which is typically made of a high-density fiberboard (MDF), OSB (Oriented Strand Board, or plywood. After gluing the layers together, the engineered wood product is strengthened by using a technology that combines heat and pressure. 

Pros or Benefits of  Choosing Engineered Hardwood Flooring

The thin veneer hardwood layer that makes up the top of engineered flooring is sliced, making it possible to slice many thin veneer layers without wasting any wood. Solid hardwood floor planks are sawed.

Sawing produces a considerable amount of sawdust, all of which is wasted. The tree species used to create solid hardwood trees grows very slowly. With engineered flooring, the wood species used to create the core is also made up of thinly sliced layers of faster-growing woods.

Each layer of the core on which the veneer hardwood layer is attached is laid in an alternating direction to accommodate the inevitable swelling and contraction that could cause solid hardwood to warp. Like most areas along the Eastern Seaboard, the humidity in Middlesex County can be problematic for people who have solid hardwood flooring throughout their homes.

Engineered wood flooring is a better choice for homeowners who want the look of solid hardwood in their kitchens, bathrooms or basements. In moisture-prone areas, there should be a moisture barrier between the subfloor and the engineered wood flooring boards or planks.

Engineered wood flooring is now available in tongue and groove form, which eliminates the need to install the boards or planks with glue or nails.

If you want a wood flooring product that is durable and easy to maintain, you’ll get both benefits if you select engineered flooring.

Hardwood Floors Unlimited customers can select their choice of pre-finished engineered flooring, or pick unfinished boards or planks. When you have us install unfinished engineered floors, you can choose the finish from our pre-made stain colors, or have us create a custom color by combining and mixing different stains to give you a one-of-a-kind floor finish that compliments the architectural and decorating style of your home.

Cons, Disadvantages or Negative Features of Engineered Wood Flooring

The thinness of the top veneer on engineered hardwood flooring products limits the number of times that your floors can be sanded and refinished. If you want to be able to refinish engineered boards or planks, make sure that the product you choose has a veneer that is thick enough to make it possible to resand and refinish.

Although engineered flooring is cheaper than solid hardwood, it is more expensive than moderately priced tile, carpeting or laminate floor boards. There is no hardwood layer on laminate floor planks; the top layer is merely a high-definition scanned image of hardwood that is glued to the core layers below it.

Many cheaply made products claim to be engineered wood flooring. These products typically have cores that are made of OSB or some inferior quality fiberboard like MDF. You can count on the wood flooring experts at Hardwood Floors Unlimited to help you select the better-engineered flooring product for the different areas of your home.

What You Need to Know About Solid Hardwood Floors

Few products can rival the elegance, timelessness or warmth that solid hardwood floors bring to any space in a home. You can’t go wrong when you decide to install solid hardwood rather than any other flooring product in your home. Solid hardwood floors add immediate resale value to a home. Every part of a solid hardwood floor board is solid wood.

Benefits or Positive Aspects of Solid Hardwood Floors

 Homeowners can choose from a variety of wood species, but oak and maple are among the most popular choices.

 Solid hardwood floor boards and planks come in two forms: prefinished or unfinished. Unfinished floorboards are finished at the customer’s home after installation.

 Homeowners who select to have unfinished hardwood floor can choose from our selection of stain colors or have us customize a color for them by mixing different colors.

 Solid hardwood flooring is sold in various thicknesses.  The most typical thicknesses for solid hardwood are between ⅜ and ¾ of an inch.

Because solid hardwood floor boards and planks are thicker than engineered wood flooring, homeowners will be able to have their floors resanded and finished many more times than it is possible to do with engineered flooring.

There are many solid hardwood species from which a homeowner can choose for flooring in their homes.

Solid hardwood floor boards or planks are sold in widths that range from 3.25 inches to 5-inches. Some species are sold in planks that are 11-inches wide.

Cons or Negative Aspects of Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood floor boards or planks are made from one piece of wood that is sawn in a lumber mill. The process of sawing produces a considerable amount of sawdust, all of which is wasted material. That means that the eco-friendly benefits of a renewable solid hardwood like bamboo are nullified when the wood is sawn to produce the flooring product.

While it is possible to resand and refinish solid hardwood flooring, the more often the floors are resanded and refinished, the weaker the structure of each floor board becomes.

To prevent solid hardwood floors from warping or suffering contraction and expansion problems related to humidity, you must maintain the humidity level in your home at a consistent range between 45 and 65 percent.

Solid hardwood floors are prone to scratching and denting if heavy things are dropped on the floor or furniture is dragged across the floors.

Solid hardwood flooring requires more maintenance than engineered hardwood flooring.

Solid hardwood flooring is most often installed by nailing the boards together.

Solid hardwood flooring must be fitted over subflooring. It cannot be installed over concrete. It also has to be installed over a level surface.

Solid hardwood flooring is much more expensive than carpeting, engineered wood flooring, or many tile flooring products.

Don’t rush into a decision regarding the better wood flooring for your home. Let the Middlesex County wood flooring experts from Hardwood Floors Unlimited help you select the best option for your home, your lifestyle, and your decorating tastes. Call us at (732) 709-4991 or Contact Us today!


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