When thinking about getting new solid hardwood flooring, everyone will offer you their opinion—whether you want it or not.
Every day we have customers coming in and asking us:
“What’s better, solid hardwood or engineered hardwood?”
And every day we give them the same answer:
“It’s whichever is best for your needs.”
Let’s look at the pros and cons for both and let you decide not “which is better,” but “which is better for you.”
Relative Humidity / Moisture
Moisture and humidity are the most important factors when it comes to hardwood flooring. Homeowners need to know that proper humidity levels need to be maintained to avoid any damages to their new flooring. Moisture and humidity can damage flooring and cause cupping in even the highest quality of hardwood. Cupping is when the boards start to curve upward, creating a concave effect and depending on the severity, it can be costly to repair.
When solid hardwood flooring is in an environment where the humidity level is over 55%, then it will absorb the excess moisture and cupping will happen. When relative humidity is less than 45%, this may cause gaps in the floor between the floor boards.
Engineered hardwood is more forgiving with moisture as its more stable. It can withstand humidity levels up to 60%, and some brands can go as high as 70%. It can also withstand lower relative humidity levels such as 30%, and some brands as low as 25%.
Bottom line: If you expect humidity to be below 45% or above 55%, engineered hardwood may be the way to go.
If you have a basement or sub-basement, then your current floors may be concrete. We’ve done countless flooring installations in rec rooms, man caves, and family rooms in basements. Here’s what you need to know about flooring in these areas.
On its own, solid hardwood cannot be placed on a concrete floor. The way around this is by installing a sub floor before we install the solid hardwood flooring on top.
An engineered hardwood floor can go on top of concrete. This may make it ideal for your basement space.
Bottom Line: If you are looking to put a floor on top of concrete, and don’t want to put in a subfloor, then engineered hardwood may be the best option.
Although something you may not think about now, it’s a good idea to consider whether you will be able to refinish your floors.
In most cases, solid hardwood floors can be refinished. If after enjoying your floor for many years you start to notice light/wear spots forming, then it may be a good time to consider refinishing.
Only certain brands of engineered flooring can be refinished, depending on the thickness of the top veneer.
Bottom Line: Higher quality engineered hardwood flooring can be refinished, but almost all solid hardwood can. In this case, solid hardwood may be a better choice.
We hear about a lot of misconceptions about the durability of both solid hardwood and engineered floors. Whether you choose solid hardwood flooring or engineered flooring, the durability of the finish is the same. The finish the manufacturers apply on their solid hardwood is the same finish they apply on their engineered hardwood. This means that they are equally as durable. However, there are better quality products that offer long-lasting finishes and are warrantied for a longer period.
Many people believe that an engineered hardwood floor is almost indestructible. We wish this were the case, but it’s not bulletproof.
It is true that an engineered hardwood floor is a more stable product. It can come in wider board widths and withstand higher and lower humidity. But it can still be scuffed like its hardwood counterparts.
Bottom Line: Well, this one is a draw. If you are worried about the scuffing of your floors from pets or children, a terrific product we love to recommend is a wire brushed, or hand scraped / distressed finish.
This is a brief summary of the differences between solid hardwood and engineered floors. Feel free to come in and have a look at all our products, and we’ll find the best floor for your needs and budget.