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What hard wood flooring is better solid or engineered?

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What hard wood flooring is better solid or engineered. The flooring is going to be placed in a bed room and family room

The question might not be which hardwood flooring type is better; but which one is best for you?

I would start out by asking if you are going to live in the house for the rest of your life, or at least a significant amount of time. The reason – more than half of all homeowners never sand and refinish hardwood flooring. It is normally the people who buy an existing home with hardwood flooring who do the work.

The issue of how many times solid or engineered can be refinished has everything to do with the quality and thickness of the top layer (above the tongue and groove). I have seen engineered floors that can’t be refinished at all because they have a paper thin top layer, but I have seen others that could be refinished as much as any 3/4" solid tongue and groove hardwood flooring. Many engineered floors can be fully sanded as much as solid. Why? Because the top layer is the same as solid hardwood. You can only sand hardwood flooring down to about 1/8" of the T&G, so if the engineered has a 1/8 to 1/4" wear layer, you can sand it just about as much as a solid floor. So, if you were to consider engineered, you might want to look at one with a thicker wear layer if sanding and refinishing is a concern for you.

The next question I would ask is where you live. This is important because of the climate. Hardwood flooring is sensitive to humidty or the lack thereof. For example, if you live in the desert, I wouldn’t suggest solid flooring as the possibilities of it shrinking and having issues from lack of humidty are much higher than engineered. If you live in Hawaii, both types; solid and engineered can work well, but solid requires a lot more care when installing. This is because solid hardwood flooring has more mass and therefore can have greater changes with humidity levels.

The third question would be, how much traffic are you anticipating in these areas. A bedroom is usually light traffic where the family room can be moderate to heavy. Solid and engineered (quality) are about the same. It doesn’t really matter. It all comes down to the quality of the finish used, the material (aluminum oxide, ceramic, etc). Having 7 coats or 11 coats is just a sales pitch and it is much more about the procedure on how it was manufactured. For example UV coatings are very durable. If the traffic was heavy, I would consider a harder wood. You can look at the Janka Hardness Chart (link below) and find the hardness of woods. For example Ipe and Brazilian Cherry are much harder then North American maple or red oak. If traffic is light, then almost any floor on the chart might be suitable for you.

http://www.findanyfloor.com/hardwood/JankaHardnessRatings.xhtml

The fourth question would be about installation. If you are a homeowner doing it yourself, engineered is the way to go. It is MUCH easier to install, especially if it is a floating flooring (meaning no glue or nailing). If it is a glue-down, then solid or engineered may be about the same. If you have experience installing flooring and you want to nail down the floor, then solid might be your choice. With solid wood floors (if you are nailing) you will need more tools (nailers, compressor, etc).

Here is a link to instructions on how to install hardwood flooring yourself.

http://www.findanyfloor.com/hardwood/InstallingHardwoodFlooring.xhtml

As you can see, there really are a lot of factors that go in to talking about the differences between solid and engineered wood flooring. The last statement I would make is about how much more environmentally friendly engineered flooring can be over solid. This is because you can get a far greater yield out of the finished hardwood with engineered because you are only using the finished hardwood type on the top layer. This is why engineered flooring has seen a dramatic increase in sales over the last 7 to 10 years and solid has declined. Most manufacturers inside and outside the US are retooling their factories to handle more engineered as solid will have a much smaller role in the future. Of course, like anything else, you can’t make a blanket statement on this as well. Engineered, while more environmentally friendly (in concept) is a manufactured product. You have to take into account the glues that were used to press the layers together, the finish in the top layer, etc. But overall, the industry would agree that engineered hardwood flooring is the way of the future.

I hope this helps you. It was a lot of information but in my opinion, the information needed to make an informed decision about what is best for you.

3 Responses to “What hard wood flooring is better solid or engineered?”

  1. dusty8940 Says:

    Solid Hardwood is better because it is solid wood through and through. Solid wood can be refinished several times in the future. Engineered wood can be refinished 2 times at most. In addition good quality engineered is as expensive as solid. The only time to use engineered is if you have a concrete sub floor and have to.
    References :
    Hardwood Floor Contractor
    http://www.rhodeshardwoodflooring.com

  2. rob s Says:

    If it were just a bedroom, it wouldn t matter at all. But since its going it a higher traffic area, the solid , full hardwood is much better in the long run because it can be redone several times.
    If your going to put it in yourself and the traffic in the house is high, no kids and animals, you can do either. Since engineered is easier to install for a DIY er and will hold up fine under lighter foot traffic. Get a quality wood in whichever you pick. Cheapest isn t the way to go in an investment for flooring
    Any questions you can e mail me through my avatar. GL
    References :
    20 years in flooring as a store owner/installer

  3. Samantha R Says:

    The question might not be which hardwood flooring type is better; but which one is best for you?

    I would start out by asking if you are going to live in the house for the rest of your life, or at least a significant amount of time. The reason – more than half of all homeowners never sand and refinish hardwood flooring. It is normally the people who buy an existing home with hardwood flooring who do the work.

    The issue of how many times solid or engineered can be refinished has everything to do with the quality and thickness of the top layer (above the tongue and groove). I have seen engineered floors that can’t be refinished at all because they have a paper thin top layer, but I have seen others that could be refinished as much as any 3/4" solid tongue and groove hardwood flooring. Many engineered floors can be fully sanded as much as solid. Why? Because the top layer is the same as solid hardwood. You can only sand hardwood flooring down to about 1/8" of the T&G, so if the engineered has a 1/8 to 1/4" wear layer, you can sand it just about as much as a solid floor. So, if you were to consider engineered, you might want to look at one with a thicker wear layer if sanding and refinishing is a concern for you.

    The next question I would ask is where you live. This is important because of the climate. Hardwood flooring is sensitive to humidty or the lack thereof. For example, if you live in the desert, I wouldn’t suggest solid flooring as the possibilities of it shrinking and having issues from lack of humidty are much higher than engineered. If you live in Hawaii, both types; solid and engineered can work well, but solid requires a lot more care when installing. This is because solid hardwood flooring has more mass and therefore can have greater changes with humidity levels.

    The third question would be, how much traffic are you anticipating in these areas. A bedroom is usually light traffic where the family room can be moderate to heavy. Solid and engineered (quality) are about the same. It doesn’t really matter. It all comes down to the quality of the finish used, the material (aluminum oxide, ceramic, etc). Having 7 coats or 11 coats is just a sales pitch and it is much more about the procedure on how it was manufactured. For example UV coatings are very durable. If the traffic was heavy, I would consider a harder wood. You can look at the Janka Hardness Chart (link below) and find the hardness of woods. For example Ipe and Brazilian Cherry are much harder then North American maple or red oak. If traffic is light, then almost any floor on the chart might be suitable for you.

    http://www.findanyfloor.com/hardwood/JankaHardnessRatings.xhtml

    The fourth question would be about installation. If you are a homeowner doing it yourself, engineered is the way to go. It is MUCH easier to install, especially if it is a floating flooring (meaning no glue or nailing). If it is a glue-down, then solid or engineered may be about the same. If you have experience installing flooring and you want to nail down the floor, then solid might be your choice. With solid wood floors (if you are nailing) you will need more tools (nailers, compressor, etc).

    Here is a link to instructions on how to install hardwood flooring yourself.

    http://www.findanyfloor.com/hardwood/InstallingHardwoodFlooring.xhtml

    As you can see, there really are a lot of factors that go in to talking about the differences between solid and engineered wood flooring. The last statement I would make is about how much more environmentally friendly engineered flooring can be over solid. This is because you can get a far greater yield out of the finished hardwood with engineered because you are only using the finished hardwood type on the top layer. This is why engineered flooring has seen a dramatic increase in sales over the last 7 to 10 years and solid has declined. Most manufacturers inside and outside the US are retooling their factories to handle more engineered as solid will have a much smaller role in the future. Of course, like anything else, you can’t make a blanket statement on this as well. Engineered, while more environmentally friendly (in concept) is a manufactured product. You have to take into account the glues that were used to press the layers together, the finish in the top layer, etc. But overall, the industry would agree that engineered hardwood flooring is the way of the future.

    I hope this helps you. It was a lot of information but in my opinion, the information needed to make an informed decision about what is best for you.
    References :
    http://www.findanyfloor.com/hardwood/HardwoodFlooring.xhtml

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