Now that you’ve reached the decision to buy flooring, the next decision could likely be whether you should purchase solid hardwood flooring or engineered hardwood flooring. Well, consider a few factors before diving into your pruchase, then compare.
One BIG word: LOCATION
Your hardwood flooring and its location basically falls into three categories:
On grade, which refers to at ground level
Above grade, or any second level floor or higher
Below grade, which is any floor set below ground level, including basements, sunken dens, etc.
Traditional solid hardwood flooring is not recommended for below-grade installations, because of likely moisture issues that may arise. The construction of an engineered hardwood gives it enhanced structural stability that allows it to be installed at any grade level when a moisture barrier such as an Omnichoice Underlayment is used during installation.
What type of subfloor do you have?
If you plan to install over concrete, you must use an engineered product to ensure structural integrity. Solid hardwood flooring or engineered hardwood flooring may be used over plywood, existing wood floors, or OSB subfloors. Refer to our installation guidelines for engineered floors as well as solid wood floors for specifics on subfloor requirements.
Will there be moisture in the room?
If you are considering flooring for a bathroom where continuous moisture is expected, you will want to select a product other than hardwood. While the moisture resistance of an engineered hardwood makes it suitable for rooms below grade or ground level when installed with a moisture barrier, it is not advisable to install any hardwood flooring in a bathroom.
Now that we've answers a few basic, but very importants questions, lets compare our two hardwoods - solid and engineered.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
When it comes to a thickness for most solid hardwoods, you’ll find that most measure ¾”. Other solids will measure in at 5/16”, but it’s a much smaller number.
The planks of a solid hardwood floor sport a tongue and groove edge which makes it easy to join the planks together to make a strong joint. One side of the board has a tongue and the other has a groove. Tongue meets groove and the boards fit together like a puzzle.
A number of people who choose a solid wood floor will tell you that they chose solid hardwood so that it could be refinished time and again. You see, most ¾” thick solid planks have about ¼” wood above the tongue and groove. It’s not a scientific number, but the number of times the floors can be refinished varies and it will in turn last for decades.
However, for everyone who loves solid hardwood, there are a few drawbacks. You cannot do a below grade installation with a solid hardwood and it cannot be installed over radiant heat. Some go even further and recommend not installing it over a concrete subfloor at all. Last but certainly not least, solid hardwood floors tend to be a bit more expensive than an engineered hardwood floor.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Weshipfloors.com sources manufacturers that use the highest quality engineering process in the industry. Each of the under layers of real wood (or plies) is glued under pressure in different directions for strength and durability. This cross-ply construction results in a product this is more stable than solid hardwood flooring. The stability of engineered hardwood flooring refers to susceptibility to shrinkage and expansion caused by environmental conditions. It is this additional stability that allows for engineered hardwoods to be installed over a mature concrete slab and may be installed in multiple applications; unlike solid wood floors.
Again, engineered hardwood floors are constructed by gluing a real hardwood veneer to a core board made of either plywood or fiberboard. This is what makes an engineered floor more dimensionally stable than a solid. So, despite fluctuations in humidity and temperature, the floor won’t change as much.
Engineered also beat solid hardwood in a number of categories, including:
- It’s not as pricey
- You can install it anywhere in the house, including below grade in your basement
- It can be installed over a concrete subfloor
- You can float it, nail it, or glue it
- It can be installed over radiant heat
Anywhere from 2 to 10 plies are used to create the plywood core of an engineered hardwood. The more plies, the higher the price generally. Meanwhile, a high density fiberboard core is more dimensionally stable than a plywood core.
For engineered wood floors, the thickness of the veneer ranges from 0.6 mm to 6 mm. Like with plies, the bigger number of plies, the more $$$. Therefore, the thicker the veneer of an engineered wood, the more $$$$ the floor. If you’re thinking about refinishing an engineered floor, it is important to consider the thickness. Unlike a solid hardwood floor, an engineered can only be refinished so many times.
WeShipFloors.com does not recommend sanding or refinishing an Engineered Hardwood Floor:
- With a veneer thickness less than 2mm
- That’s hand scraped
WeShipFloors.com does say that you can sand or refinish an Engineered Hardwood Floor:
- With a veneer thickness of 2mm or greater, but it’s best left to a professional
Our Engineered Hardwood Floors are constructed in either a traditional tongue and groove fashion or with a glueless click-locking. For modern day DIYers, this is the preferred, and easiest method of installation.