When you’re looking for attractive, long-lasting, and durable wood flooring to increase the value of your property, there are two incredible flooring options to consider: solid hardwood and engineered wood. There are a lot of reasons to love these two flooring products as they can make your home more stylish and unique. Each of these floor coverings has a 100% real wood component. In fact, they are exactly alike and it’s fairly difficult to distinguish which is which. But what is really the difference between hardwood and engineered wood? Which one is better? To answer that, we will compare both flooring products and find out the best and worst of each option. So, before you even talk to your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor to start your flooring project, let’s identify their differences first.
What’s the Difference?
A top choice for many homes, traditional hardwood flooring is a homogeneous material. The floor has no layers, so what you see on top is the same kind of material all the way through the bottom. It’s nothing but a completely solid wood material. They are cut from logs of genuine hardwood species and milled with tongues and grooves on their edges to make sure that boards will interlock when being installed. Hardwood flooring is always nailed down to the underlayment or subfloor, which requires expertise and skills from your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor or installer. While it can be a DIY project for a seasoned and skilled DIYer, self-installation may not be a good choice as it needs a lot of skills to handle a daunting job.
Engineered wood, on the other hand, is relatively a new flooring option. If there’s a material that closely resembles the look and feel of solid hardwood amongst any wood-alternative, that is engineered wood. Unlike solid hardwood, this flooring product has multi-layers of plywood and hardwood. A high-quality engineered wood flooring has 3 to 12 multiple layers of plywood or backing. Its construction features a thin wear layer (or top veneer layer) of solid hardwood over multiple layers of plywood positioned in a different direction. The construction of each layer of wood makes it dimensionally stable and durable. Engineered wood can be nailed-down, glued-down, or a floating floor.
Solid hardwood flooring offers a world of options when it comes to finishes, patterns, and style. It is cut from different wood species, so design ideas can be limitless. It is also available in unfinished and prefinished versions. Solid hardwood has tight seams between floorboards and narrower than engineered wood flooring.
On the other hand, engineered wood flooring has wider boards and fewer color or design options as compared to solid hardwood. You may notice that the engineered wood floor has little grooves between floorboards because the edges are slightly beveled. Also, in most cases, this floor covering is available in a pre-finished form.
Best for Appearance: Both. Choosing patterns, textures, and designs are highly subjective. You may want to speak to your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor to provide you with samples and design ideas.
Solid hardwood has a tongue-and-groove system where each board is nailed down to the subfloor through the tongues at the floorboards’ edges. This typically requires expertise as it may be stressful to employ a nail-down installation method. Unless you’re a seasoned DIYer, leave the job to your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor.
While some engineered wood types can be nailed- or glued-down, other options have click-lock systems where you can install it as a floating floor. These types of engineered wood have planks with grooves that interlock to each other to create a decorative surface layer. With this, some DIYers prefer this flooring option because it is much easier to install.
Most DIY-friendly: Engineered Wood. This is mainly because the installation of engineered wood is much easier for DIYers as they have an option for a click-lock system.
If sanding and refinishing your floor in the future is important to you, understand that solid hardwood offers more flexibility than engineered wood. Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished multiple times, preferably four to five times. Because it is a solid, uniform piece of wood, you can refinish or sand it repeatedly without affecting its durability.
Engineered hardwood may be refinished or sanded once or twice, or not at all depending on the quality of the veneer. With a thin veneer or top layer, there is a possibility that you may sand it down through the plywood layers below. Once you destroy the veneer layer, you will also compromise its strength and durability. However, if you still want an engineered wood for your home, make sure to look for a thicker veneer version. Also, always ask your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor or manufacturer about how frequently you can sand or refinish it.
Most Durable: Solid Hardwood. Having the option to sand and refinish your floor will allow you to make your flooring more attractive without the need to replace it.
When it comes to longevity, solid hardwood can live longer than engineered wood, especially when maintained and cared for properly. Since you can sand down and refinish your hardwood flooring multiple times, it can last for about 30 to 100 years. Just make sure to regularly maintain your hardwood floor and it will surely last for a lifetime.
With engineered wood flooring, you can expect that it will last for about 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance and care. The duration of life of this flooring material will depend on the quality and construction of its wood layers.
Longest Lifespan: Solid Hardwood. It can last for decades because it allows you to sand and refinish hardwood flooring multiple times.
Hardwood flooring varies in sizes and thicknesses. Typically, solid hardwood planks have a width of 2 ¼ inches and a thickness of ¾ inch. The lengths may range from 12 to 84 inches, depending on the manufacturers’ discretion. To view more samples and sizes, make sure to discuss this with your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor. This way, you will determine how many planks you need for your flooring project.
Engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, are much thinner and wider than solid hardwood. Normally, boards have a thickness of 3/8 to 9/16 inches and a width of up to 7 inches. Its lengths vary from 12 to 60 inches.
Best Option for Size: Both. The dimension of floorboards will still depend on the size of your room, styles, and designs. This is highly subjective, so you may need to involve a manufacturer or Maryland hardwood flooring contractor to make a better decision.
The options for wood flooring vary and so do the costs. Not all solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring are created equal, so the price may change depending on the patterns, designs, texture, and wood species. Typically, the average installation cost of solid hardwood flooring ranges between $6 and $12 per square foot. For wood flooring material alone, it may range from $3 to $7 per square foot. Whereas the labor cost is about $3 to $5 per square foot.
On the other hand, engineered wood floor is slightly less expensive than solid hardwood. A basic engineered wood flooring with three-core layers and a veneer between 1/16 to 1/12 inch-thick will cost you $4.50 to $9 per square foot. A five-layer core with thicker veneer type averages from $6 to $12 per square foot. Installation of floating wood floors, however, may cost anywhere from $6 to $15 per square foot.
Best for Cost: Engineered Wood. Engineered wood performs well for a less upfront cost. However, the difference is so slim as compared to solid hardwood. The best advice for the price comes from the manufacturer or your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor, so you will know how much budget you need to allocate.
There is nothing much to argue about which flooring option requires less maintenance. Both solid hardwood and engineered wood floors are easy to clean and maintain. To restore its look, you just need to do regular cleaning such as sweeping and vacuuming. Occasionally, you may need to damp-mop the floors using an approved wood cleaner. Always remember the do’s and don’ts of wood flooring maintenance.
Best for Maintenance: Both. These two flooring products have fewer maintenance requirements and are easy to clean.
Wear and Tear
How well your wood flooring can hold up to your home’s daily activities will depend on two factors: the durability of the wood finish and wood species. Some wood species cannot withstand high-traffic areas at all. For instance, a softwood like pine wood is more prone to gouges and dents, which makes it a bad choice for a home with high foot traffic. In this case, you may want to look for a harder wood variety such as mahogany or oak tree. On the other hand, getting a high-quality, durable wood finish could protect your wood flooring from scrapes and scuffs. Wood finish comes in different types and forms, so you need to talk to your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor for better options.
For engineered wood, the ability to hold up well to wear and tear will depend on its construction. Always pay attention to the thickness of the wood layer and its veneer. The construction detail plays a huge role in the durability and stability of the engineered wood. A high-quality engineered wood flooring has 3 to 12 multiple ply layers of backing or core layers. The harder or thicker the wood is, the more resistant it is to dents and warping.
Best Option for Wear and Tear: Both. For as long as you choose the right type of wood finish and species based on your lifestyle, your solid hardwood can be in great shape. The same is true with engineered wood flooring. Always pay attention to construction details.
Heat and Moisture Resistance
Solid hardwood and engineered wood floors have resistance to heat. However, both flooring types are not ideal for moisture-prone areas. For both types, experts and manufacturers recommend maintaining a humidity level between 35% and 55%. This is because both wood floorings are susceptible to expansion and contraction when exposed to a higher level of humidity. Also, solid hardwood is not a good choice for installation against concrete slabs. This is because moisture can rise through the concrete subfloor or slab, leading to wood warping or swelling.
Engineered wood, on the other hand, has a better performance in humid areas. Its veneer and plywood construction makes it dimensionally stable, allowing the floor to become less susceptible to warping. Unlike solid hardwood, it can stand up against moisture for a limited time. It can work moderately well in areas like the basement, bathroom, or kitchen. Installation of engineered wood against a concrete subfloor is not a problem as well.
Best Resistance to Heat and Moisture: Engineered Wood. This wood flooring option has a slightly better performance in both higher and lower temperatures.
Resale Value of Your Home
Though both wood flooring types look pretty much the same, many home buyers and real estate professionals have considered solid hardwood more superior to engineered wood. With solid hardwood, you can expect to see it as a substantial investment because it increases the resale value of your home. This is beneficial if you plan to market your property for sale in the future.
Engineered wood flooring is less likely to be a turn-off to potential home buyers. However, some may overlook its value because it has a shorter duration of life and is not as premium as solid hardwood.
Best Option for Resale Value: Solid Hardwood. This flooring material is much superior because it can increase the resale value of your home and has a longer lifespan.
The Right Time to Talk to Your Maryland Hardwood Flooring Contractor is Now!
Both wood flooring options offer myriad benefits to your home and are perfect materials for your next flooring makeover. Since both options have incredible advantages and a handful of drawbacks, it isn’t easy to tell which one is better than the other. If you’re still not sure which flooring options work best for you, contact your Maryland hardwood flooring contractor today. Now is the right time to schedule a free in-home consultation!