The Difference Between Engineered and Solid Hardwood Flooring

By August 22, 2017 June 22nd, 2018 Buying Guide

On the surface, engineered and solid hardwood flooring oftentimes (though not always) appear nearly identical. However, there are a few significant differences between the two – usually pertaining more to the construction of each flooring option than its aesthetic.

These differences are important to consider when you’re making your flooring decisions as they will impact both the style and construction of your home.

Types of Flooring

Solid Hardwood – As the name implies, it is composed of solid wood, literally milled straight out of the tree. Solid hardwoods are a more traditional choice and often found in older homes, especially cabins.

Engineered (Factory-Finished) – Again, similar to how it sounds. Engineered flooring is composed of layers of plywood (layered wood). In fact, when viewed from the side, most selections resemble the layers found along the side of plywood. Due to its dimensional stability (resistance to warping), it can be used virtually anywhere in the home from the attic to the basement.

Aesthetic DifferencesDifferences between solid and engineered hardwood as viewed from the side.

The top layer of engineered hardwood is a thin sheet of solid wood. This is what maintains the similar aesthetic between the two types of hardwood flooring.

Both solid and engineered hardwood flooring can come in almost any species.

However, oak, hickory, pine and maple are among the more common selections. You may also find pecan, walnut and pear. but these are considered to be “domestic exotics.” True exotics are also available like acacia, ipe, wenge and Brazilian cherry.

Environmental Advantages of Engineered Flooring

Besides using less desirable wood, engineered flooring features an added benefit. It uses either mill by-products, like sawdust or wood that is generally cheaper. Because of this, they’re sometimes considered undesirable as a finished floor because of its core and would otherwise go to waste. In turn, it reduces environmental impact.

Engineered flooring still remains the same resilience and durability frequently associated with conventional engineered flooring, it simply does so in a more practical manner.

Differences in Construction

Not all engineered hardwood flooring features a layered construction. Some still appear solid, even from the side. In this case, it’s actually pressurized sawdust, compacted using a modern engineering process that strengthens the sawdust into a highly-dense, solid core.

Durability is greatly enhanced, making it far more resistant to dents and scratches than solid hardwood.

Engineered hardwood is more resistant to moisture in humid environments, making them lower-cost options for us in locations where moisture is possible like basements.

Engineered hardwood is often compared with other hard surface flooring types like laminate because of its layered construction. However, it can still be referred to as “real wood” since it is composed entirely of wood.

Similarities Between Engineered and Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid and engineered hardwood flooring do share some similarities. Both are typically available in planks that are 3.25” wide. However, the more modern widths are 5”, 6”, 7” and even 9” in engineered. It would cost far more to have solid hardwood at these widths.

To learn more about the differences between engineered and hardwood flooring, be sure to visit the learning section of our website where we cover the differences of each and offer a variety of selections using both flooring types.