War of the Floors: Solid Hardwood vs Engineered

Posted By on Jul 25, 2013 | 0 comments


By: Derrick Nabors and Denise H. Smith

Today’s hardwood is known for its ever changing variety of grain patterns, spectacular colors, and overall ability to add to the beauty of your home.  In this, our first War of the Floors blog post, I want to delve into the world of hardwood, both solid and engineered styles.  I will be going through the strengths and weaknesses of each product so you will know exactly what to look for in choosing a new hardwood floor.

“Could my Hardwood Floor be refinished?” One of the guests asks during our latest Flooring Seminar

The Basics Of Wood:

First, wood is a natural resource.  It is both a renewable and a recyclable product. It adds strength and stability to any floor system. It insulates just as well as 15” of concrete.  Wood floors are rather simple to clean and since they don’t retain mildew or absorb dust, if allergies are an issue, hardwood is a good choice.

Now for our first competitor in our lineup:  Solid Wood is cut straight off the log with a saw, unlike engineered, which is basically peeled off with a knife from the tree. Solid wood is one complete piece of wood. Solid hardwood strips and planks are typically ¾” thick.  It is most commonly recognized at a 2 ¼ and 3 ¼ inch width. Lengths can range from 9” to 72”, with the average being 32”.

SOLID WOOD:

Benefits:

  • Solid Product (No particle board).
  •  Shows more color variety and grain variation from piece to piece.
  • Knots and imperfections make wear problems less noticeable.

Disadvantage:

  • Sensitive to moisture. Can’t be placed directly onto a cement floor sub-floor.
  • Hygroscopic meaning it expands by absorbing moisture and contracts by evaporation.
  • Stable lengthwise, but expands and contracts widthwise, therefore may buckle, expand, or contract.
  • May need to be sanded and refinished.

ENGINEERED WOOD:

Benefits:

  • Warp and expansion resistant.
  • More structurally stable.
  • Most companies guarantee engineered wood to not warp, buckle, cup, or form gaps. Engineered hardwoods can be installed above, on, or below ground level, and are better for moisture present areas of your home such as kitchens, basements, and attics.
  • Requires 50% less wood to fabricate, which saves precious forests
  • Engineered woods are produced with many types of factory finishes, which offer additional protection to the surface of the wood.
  •  Can be used in commercial settings.

Disadvantage:

  • Most engineered hardwood cannot be sanded or refinished. It is possible, however, to recoat the finish layer to remove minor surface scratches.

So in conclusion, engineered flooring has an advantage over our “old school favorite” solid wood floors. When it comes down to it, solid hardwood may have a reputation that it does not warrant, especially when the strengths of engineered hardwoods are considered. Each has benefits and disadvantages, but the constant improvements being made by the largest companies in flooring like Armstrong, Mannington, and Mohawk make today’s hardwood flooring an excellent choice for your home.

SOURCES:

MOHAWK UNIVERSITY  BASIC FLOORING CONCEPTS

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