Solid Wood Flooring or Engineered: Pros and Cons

Should I get engineered wood flooring or solid wood?

This is such a great question and I hear it all the time. It really all comes down to this: What kind of investment are you willing to make? Engineered wood can range in price from $2-3/square foot at discount retailers to $12/square foot for for high quality engineered wood, while solid wood can range from $10-12/square foot for domestic species like oak, to more than $20/square foot for exotic species. From a pricing standpoint, there is some overlap, but what are the real differences

Engineered Wood Flooring: What’s the Scoop?

Engineered wood flooring covers all manner of sins, as they say. With such a diverse range in colors, styles, and pricing you have a lot of choices. Deciding what will work best in your home really comes down to what your goals are and how much money you’re willing to spend.

The most important thing to know about engineered wood is the wear layer. Wear layer is the part you see after the wood flooring is installed. It’s the part of the floor that becomes worn and damaged over time. Most engineered wood flooring that you buy from discount retailers and big box stores will have a very thin wear layer. A thin wear layer means that you cannot sand and refinish the flooring if it gets damaged and worn over time. A thin wear layer is considered to be 1-2mm thick. The 2mm wear layer can be refinished, but it really depends on how significant the damage is. There are engineered wood that have very thick wear layers, which can be refinished multiple times, but as you might imagine they are more expensive.

Wear layer on top of the click lock plywood plank

If you have a limited budget and are going to self-install, the cheaper engineered woods may be the way to go. Buyer be ware, though. The claim is that engineered wood will last for 15 or more years, even the thinner wear layers, but I have personally owned engineered wood that only looked good for 5-10 years. So, while your pocketbook may thank you now for the lower cost solution, you may need to replace it in just a few years.

Solid Hardwood: Know Your Stuff

Solid hardwood is a great investment, but it is usually an investment. If you select solid wood, your making a commitment. Solid wood be refinished several times and really only has a couple of drawbacks. However, the drawbacks will be the same as engineered woods: water can damage wood and if you have large pets, their nails can scratch the floors and dull the surface.

Golden Oak, very popular in the late 1990’s. The question on this homeowner’s mind: Can I refinish it?

The awesome thing about hardwood is the variety of finishes and the ability to change them. Right now oil finishes have become popular. These are great because they are better for the environment and it’s easier to make repairs. You can easily sand and oil out any scratches or gouges when the floors are not stained and simply oiled. And while solid wood is more of an investment, you won’t be hauling a load of lumber to the landfill every time the floors start to look bad.

The Verdict

If you can do solid wood, go for it! If you’re not ready to make that investment and commitment, know what your getting! Aim to select an engineered wood with a thicker wear layer so that you can get more longevity from your floors!

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