Flooring 101: Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood

Many homes and offices have hardwood flooring in Vancouver. It’s really not surprising, considering the aesthetic benefits of solid hardwood floors. This type of flooring is comprised of sawed planks obtained from real hardwood timbers. It’s more expensive than other flooring options including engineered wood. But is the premium price of solid hardwood worth it? Let’s find out.

Similarities and Differences

Engineered wood floors look very similar to solid hardwood floors, but they vary in composition. Engineered wood floors are planks topped with a layer of genuine hardwood, however, the layers underneath are constructed from glued-together layers of plywood, MDF, OSB, or other derivative wood products.

Aside from their composition, let’s take a look at all the other important aspects that must be considered when comparing both flooring options:

  1. Durability

High quality engineered wood can withstand more moisture than solid hardwood, especially if it has been coated with a really good protective finish. This means you can install engineered wood floors in areas where hardwood is not typically recommended, like the basement.

On the other hand, any damage to hardwood floors can be repaired by sanding and refinishing. With engineered wood, however, you will have to replace your flooring entirely to make it look new again.

  1. Installation

Engineered hardwood floors can be installed directly onto concrete and even below grade floors. With solid hardwood, you may need to place planks of plywood on your floor to staple or nail it down. DIY installation is possible nowadays though even with hardwood flooring, as there are now pre-cut options similar to engineered wood. But to ensure a successful installation, we highly recommend you hire a professional to do the job.

  1. Finish

If you go with solid hardwood, you’ll need to decide between buying prefinished or un-finished wood. The former has been sanded and stained, and have a protective coating. Un-finished wood, on the other hand, has not been sanded, stained or coated. The good thing about un-finished hardwood is that you can choose your own stains and coat. However, this option can be time-consuming and more expensive.

Engineered hardwood comes prefinished. Usually, the finish is aluminium oxide although there are a few other options to choose from.

  1. Cost

The thickness of the wooden plank often determines the cost, as well as the hardwood species used. Solid hardwood planks are generally ¾ inch thick, while engineered wood planks are much thinner. Hardwood flooring will cost anywhere from $8 to $15 per square foot, while engineered wood costs about $3-$5 per square foot. There’s also very thick engineered wood flooring that can run up to $14 per square foot.

In terms of cost, you also need to factor in installation. If you have the time, you can probably install engineered wood by yourself. But solid hardwood flooring requires a professional installer to do the job.

  1. Other Considerations

Hardwood is an eco-friendly flooring option as it comes from a sustainable source. It’s safe to say that it’s one of the greenest flooring types. But engineered hardwood floor is actually more eco-friendly than solid hardwood flooring. That’s because it uses leftovers of solid wood and very little, if at all, is wasted. Making engineered wood floors also utilizes less energy.

When it comes to care and maintenance, both types of flooring require very little care and upkeep. You just need to make sure you mop or vacuum your floor regularly to remove any stains, spills and residue as quickly as possible to avoid damaging your floors.

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