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Solid Hardwood vs Engineered Hardwood. Which one is right for you?

Many of our customers wonder what the difference between a solid hardwood floor and an engineered hardwood floor is. There’s a common misconception that engineered is simply a less expensive alternative to solid, or that engineered floors are of lower quality than solid floors.  While these things can be true in some cases, they’re certainly not catch-all assumptions, and leave out important distinctions between the two options.


Let’s start with the simple one. Solid hardwood floors are exactly what they sound like. Planks of flooring that are wood all the way through. This type of flooring is commonly sold in planks between 2 and 4 inches wide. Any solid hardwood wider than 4 inches is more prone to cupping or gapping as the seasons change.  Solid hardwood can be nailed or glued down but cannot be installed over a concrete subfloor and can be refinished down to about an eighth of an inch above the groove.


Engineered floors are planks of flooring comprised of a plywood core and a veneer of solid hardwood glued on top of it. The veneer is commonly referred to as the “wear layer.” The wear layer is the most important thing to pay attention to while selecting your engineered flooring. If your goal is to keep your floors for the long haul, choosing a floor with a wear layer of at least 2mm will usually allow you to refinish them as they become dull or scratched in the future. Any engineered product with a thinner wear layer will likely need to be replaced when they become dull or scratched. Thin wear layers are the source of the myth that engineered hardwood is cheaper than solid hardwood. The truth is that a quality engineered hardwood product will very commonly be the same price or even more expensive than a solid hardwood.


So how do you know if engineered hardwood or solid hardwood is the right choice for you? First, know what type of subfloor you have. If you’re installing over concrete, engineered hardwood is your best option since it can be glued down or floated. Make note, however, that a floating installation will not allow your floors to be refinished in the future regardless of the wear layer. Second, decide how wide you’d like your planks to be. If you prefer the look of wider planks, engineered hardwood will be the best option to avoid cupping and gapping. Keep in mind as a general rule of thumb, the wider the planks, the more expensive the floor. Last, consider how long you need your floors to last. For long-lasting and a floor that can be refinished, look for thick wear layers on engineered products, or select a solid product instead.


Have more questions? Give us a call at 360-671-9663 to schedule a free in-home consultation with our hardwood expert.




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