Posted on May 14 2019
Hardwood flooring is a timeless choice for home flooring projects. Available in a variety of stains and styles, wood flooring enhances the character and beauty of your home with color and design options to fit your personal style. Additional options including species, finish and manufacturing method can affect the durability of the flooring and make some options better suited for active households and homes with pets. When it comes to hardwood flooring, one additional decision is whether to choose solid hardwood flooring or engineered hardwood flooring.
What is engineered hardwood flooring?
Solid hardwood flooring is cut from logs of solid wood. It is typically 3/4-inch thick and is available in various plank widths.
Engineered hardwood flooring is comprised of layers of wood. It has a hardwood top layer which is available in a variety of species. Under the hardwood veneer, multiple plywood or plywood-like layers are stacked in a cross-grain configuration. Engineered hardwood varies in thickness and is usually 3/8- to 1/2-inch thick.
How is wood flooring installed?
There are different methods for installation of solid and engineered hardwood. Solid hardwood flooring is typically nailed to 3/4-inch thick plywood subfloor.
Engineered hardwood flooring can be stapled or nailed like solid hardwood or the planks can be glued or snapped together to create a floating floor. With these installation options, engineered hardwood does not require a plywood subfloor and can be installed over concrete or existing flooring such as laminate.
Depending on your project and the existing flooring in other rooms of your home, you may need to consider the height requirements of solid and engineered hardwood flooring options. With the requirement for plywood subflooring, solid hardwood installations are typically thicker and may impact bottom clearance for doors and matching of floor height in adjacent rooms.
Which to choose: solid or engineered hardwood flooring
There are many factors to consider in choosing which hardwood flooring is the best option for your project. Solid hardwood is available in many species that range from naturally hard to soft, affecting how prone the wood is to dents and scratches. There are also various finishes, such as wax or polyurethane, that can impact scuff resistance and durability. Solid hardwood expands and contracts with changes in humidity and temperature, which is especially true as plank width increases. As a result, solid hardwood is more susceptible to water damage and is not recommended for below-grade installations such as basements, where moisture exposure can cause warping of the wood planks. With its solid construction, solid hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished many times to hide scratches, reverse wear and extend the life of the flooring.
The multi-layer construction of engineered hardwood flooring makes it more dimensionally stable, meaning it is less likely than solid hardwood to expand and contract with changes in humidity or temperature. When installed with a moisture barrier, this makes engineered hardwood flooring an option for below-grade installations. Depending on the thickness of the hardwood veneer, engineered hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished only a few times compared to many times for solid hardwood.
With many options available for solid and engineered hardwood flooring, including wood species, installation method and protective finish options, our Molyneaux team can help you choose the best option for your specific flooring project. Are you interested in seeing samples and discussing the options for your next flooring project? Schedule your in-home design consultation with one of our Pittsburgh-area flooring consultants and get ready to love your floor.