Choosing to go with Solid Hard Wood or Engineered Flooring

Choosing to go with Solid Hard Wood or Engineered Flooring

One question that we are asked quite frequently here is “What’s the difference between solid and engineered wood flooring?” Well, actually there are quite a few! So let’s start with the basics and see how we go from there..

By ‘basics’ we mean it’s time to strip these materials bare and find out what makes them the way that they are. Starting with solid wood, which as the name suggests is made using a single plank of solid timber. These days, many retailers and manufacturers work closely with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) to ensure that their wood is sourced responsibly. As you can probably imagine, the whole drive on eco-friendly homes has contributed to the rise of people wanting to know where materials are sourced from. In terms of construction, solid wood flooring is one of the simpler variations available on the market today.

Engineered flooring…Well; it’s an ‘engineered’ product that is actually made using natural materials, pretty confusing huh? This type of flooring can be made up of anything between 3-12 layers, with the inner core layers usually built up using a mixture of soft plywood and other man-made materials. The thick top layer (also known as the wear layer), is also made from hardwood, is then glued and pressed on top of the core layer, this layer is what gives an engineered wood floor the look and feel of a traditional solid wood floor.

So, that’s the construction covered. Now it’s time to look at what the differences are when these floors are placed in your home?

Cleaning/Maintenance
When it comes to regular cleaning, both these floors require a similar service. One of the most common threats to any floor will is regular dirt and dust, most likely treaded in from outside. This may seem miniscule but it can actually result in the surface becoming scratched or the finish looking dull. Luckily for you, this can be easily prevented by simply sweeping the floor on a daily basis, as well as vacuuming and wiping it with a warm, damp cloth/mop for a deeper clean.

Both solid and engineered wood floors can be refinished if they become scratched or damaged over time, which is bound to happen with daily wear and tear. This is one of the biggest advantages to both floors, because instead of having to replace them, which can be quite costly, all you need to do is sand them and finish them with your desired choice. The only difference is that both types of floor will have a different minimum wear layer thickness, as a result of this it is more likely that engineered wood floors won’t be able to be refinished as often as solid wood floors.

Life-expectancy:
When people purchase real wood floors, they’re often seen as an investment. In fact, more often than not, solid wood floors can outlive the house itself! So although solid wood flooring may seem like the most expensive option, it’s actually the most worthwhile in the long run. Engineered wood is also a worthy opponent on the lifespan front, typically lasting for between 20 and 30 years, which in itself is an impressive figure! Whichever way you look at this, both floors last an incredibly long time but if you’re looking for ultimate longevity then solid wood wins this round.

In order to help you make an informed decision, we’ve decided to put these two floors head-to-head. This way you can see which is the right for you, based on different factors from around the home:

Solid WoodEngineered Wood
ConstructionMade from 100% solid wood, usually a single plank.Constructed of up to 12 layers of MDF or other man-made materials, each plank is then topped with a final layer of real wood, this is what gives engineered floors the look of real wood.
Underfloor HeatingNot suitable/compatible with underfloor heating.Compatible with underfloor heating.
MoistureDoes not handle excess moisture levels well, never recommended for bathrooms or other rooms with high/changing moisture levels. If this floor is installed in that sort of environment it can result in the boards warping and contracting, which basically means the floor is ruined.Engineered wood is better suited to areas with higher moisture levels, probably because the core of this floor is made up from plywood, which can handle water better than solid wood. However it is still not advised to install this floor in rooms with excess levels of moisture due to the top layer of solid wood.
Where to installLiving room, hallway, dining room and bedroom.Living room, hallway, dining room, bedroom and kitchen. Can be installed in bathrooms but we would advise you seek the advice of a professional floor fitter.
LifespanSolid wood floors, unless cracked can live forever, if they do become cracked or damaged then a single board can be replaced as oppose to the entire floor.Can last anywhere between 20 – 30 years.

So while we can’t make the choice for you, we sincerely hope that this little guide can assist you in making the right decision!

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