Before I get into Solid Hardwood vs Engineered Hardwood, first I would like to start off with the definitions of solid hardwood floors and engineered hardwood floors.  See below.

Solid Hardwood Floors

Solid hardwood floors are milled from a single 3/4″ thick piece of hardwood.  Asolid hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished almost infinitely, at least a couple generations, until you get to the tongue & groove. Solid hardwood floors expand and contract with changes in in temperature like the humidity in Spring & Summer and the dry weather during Winter.  Expert flooring installers will allow for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the hardwood floor and the wall. Traditionally base moulding or quarter round is used to hide this gap left for expansion.  If you look at the picture below you can see that solid hardwood flooring is exactly that – solid through and through.

Engineered Hardwood Floors

Engineered hardwood floors are hardwood too…just not solid hardwood throughout.  The top layer is real hardwood but the sub-layers are plywood.  Engineered hardwood floors also come in different qualities.  You can buy a 1 mil engineered hardwood floor or you can buy a 6 mil engineered hardwood floor.  For each mil you can sand and refinish once and you always have to have a mil remaining.  Please look at the picture below to see an example of engineered hardwood floors.

Engineered Hardwood Floors

So why in the world would I go with an Engineered Hardwood Floor vs a Solid Hardwood Floor?

Good question.  They cost about the same so there is really not a big price advantage.  For example, you can buy a solid hardwood floor for $3.49 per square foot and an engineered hardwood floor would start around the same price.  So the question is why would anyone go with engineered instead of a 100% solid hardwood floor?  Two possible reasons…which happen to be the main reasons:

    1. Sub-Floor is concrete.  Solid hardwood is a nail down installation…you can’t nail into concrete so anyone with a concrete sub-floor MUST go with engineered hardwood floors.  Engineered hardwood floors are available as glue down, lock & fold or float.
    2. Moisture issues.  Engineered hardwood is more stable with humidity and moisture.  This is because of its plywood sub-layers.  Remember hardwood is a natural, porous product.  It can breathe.  A constant temperature needs to be maintained all year round so the hardwood doesn’t expand or contract.  But…let’s say you have a lake house or a beach house right on the water or very close to the water, we know that no matter what you will get moisture – for this reason you MUST go with engineered hardwood floors per the National Wood Flooring Association.

Even if you have a concrete sub-floor you can still go solid hardwood floors, you just have to install a plywood sub-floor first :)  So if you have a plywood sub-floor, obviously it is 100% better to go with 100% solid hardwood floors.  If you have to go engineered hardwood floors for any of the reasons above, I would recommend a good quality engineered product that has at least 3 mils.

Once again, this is Sabina from Floor Expo.  We have been in the flooring industry for over 20 years and there is no question we can’t answer.  If you have any questions, please e-mail them to info@floorexpo.com – We would love to hear from you!