Solid Wood floors are a beautiful and classic addition to any home. A quality, correctly-installed wood floor brings warmth and character to your home while adding value to the bottom line. An Engineered wood floor can be difficult to distinguish from a solid plank floor once it is installed. Although though both types of wood floors have the look of natural wood, they are very different. It can be very confusing to decide when to use engineered and when to use solid wood.
Here’s the difference. Engineered wood floors tend to be easier to install and they’re usually less expensive than solid plank floors. However, not all wood floors are equal, and the many species of wood that get made into floors have lots of different characteristics. Understanding these characteristics will go a long way to help you choose the wood floor that’s right for you.
Originally, engineered wood floors were developed for use on the first floor of a home built on a concrete slab but advances over the last 20 years have allowed Engineered wood to be used just about anywhere, including in places where you’d expect to find plank floors. Engineered wood floors can also be more resistant to moisture and while no wood product can tolerate water standing on it, increased moisture levels over concrete aren’t a problem for most engineered wood floors. The key to this increased stability and moisture tolerance comes from how an engineered wood floor is made.
Here you see a cross section of a high-quality, engineered wood floor. The thickness can range from 3/8″ to 3/4″ (that’s approximately 1 cm to 2 cm). The top layer is a veneer of the desired wood; the thicker that veneer is, the more expensive the floor will be. However, if this top veneer is very thin (.6mm or so) the resulting floor cannot be refinished, but when the top veneer is between 2 mm and 6 mm, it can be refinished. The layers underneath the veneer top layer can be anywhere between three and 12 layers of plywood and unfinished white wood, depending on the thickness and quality of the finished product.
Engineered wood flooring can be used in a variety of applications without awkward transitions between different flooring materials because of the different thicknesses available. The most common transitions people have trouble with are areas between a tile kitchen or bath floor and the rest of the house. By using an engineered wood floor in a renovation, you can remove the need for large transition strips and trimming down doors.
An engineered wood floor will last from 20 to 100 years, depending on the thickness of the top veneer and the best engineered wood floors available will last as long and perform as well as a plank floor, so another consideration to keep in mind is how long you want this material to last. Use a high-quality, long-lasting engineered wood floor so as not to affect your resale value because using a cheap one will.
Pros: Can be used in places wood plank floors can’t be used; can be more sustainable; tend to cost less than solid planks.
Cons: Cheap versions of this product won’t last very long and will affect the value of your home. Beware of low prices.