Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Solid or Engineered: Which Hardwood Type is Right for You?

If you’re shopping for new hardwood floors and you’ve done your hardwood homework, you probably have noticed that hardwood flooring comes in two different varieties: engineered and solid. Solid hardwood is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a solid plank of hardwood cut into specific board sizes. Engineered hardwood is flooring that is composed of 3 – 12 multiple ply layers that have been cross-layered, glued down, and pressed together. A layer of species-specific hardwood is then layered on top, giving the appearance of a solid board.

On the surface, solid and engineered hardwoods are very difficult to tell apart, but they do have their own individual advantages and disadvantages. Engineered hardwoods are much more versatile. They can be nailed or glued on top of all types of sub-floors, including concrete. Solid hardwood can only be nailed or stapled down to a wood sub-floor. (Don’t try to staple solid hardwood to a concrete sub-floor. It will only end badly.) Engineered hardwood floors are also less prone to expansion and contraction damages due to climate change.

If cost is a factor, consider engineered. Engineered hardwood flooring is typically less expensive because less of the solid tree goes into the board. It is also lighter and easier to transport, which can also cut down on costs. However, one additional cost factor involved in engineered flooring is the pad that is necessary to purchase for under the floor. Pads help to deaden the echo sound and also act as a moisture barrier, helping to reduce mold and mildew issues when installing over concrete.

 Another important factor to assess when purchasing engineered flooring is the thickness of the top ware layer. Some engineered product cannot be sanded and refinished if the ware layer is less than 2mm. If the engineered floor you are looking at is 2mm or over, than the floor can be sanded and refinished a couple of times. Technology in engineered flooring has come a long way in the past few years, and high-end engineered product typically have a ware layer of an 1/8”. This is essentially the same thickness of a solid hardwood floor has above the tongue and groove. These high end engineered products have a life span that will outlast most of us – they can be sanded and finished the same amount of times as a solid floor.

If there are no budget concerns, and you are installing above grade on a ply sub floor, solid hardwood floors might be the better option. Solid hardwood does not need a pad and you will have no issues with the echoing sound typical with engineered material. Solid floor also typically has a longer life span with sanding and refinishing compared to “standard” engineered materials. Solid flooring also adds more resale value to your home.

As you can see, engineered and solid hardwoods both have their advantages and disadvantages. Cost, ease of installation, and longevity are just a few things to consider when deciding between the two. Still unsure as to which hardwood style is right for you? Give us a call at 1-888-448-9663 today, or shoot us an email at customer.service@fantastic-floor.com. We can’t wait to help you pick the perfect floor!

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