Engineered VS Solid Wood Flooring: What Is the Difference?
Though both engineered and solid wood flooring is extremely similar, there are some key differences that set the two apart. To help you make your decision, we have broken down several aspects and provided comparative information on each. Starting with:
The first thing anyone considers is the overall look. Engineered and solid wood look almost identical, as both are made with quality cuts of hardwood timber, but they do have some slight differences which, upon closer inspection, separate the two.
The two can also be told apart by the shape and size of each board, as solid wood planks will tend to vary in length, with some being much shorter than others. Engineered wood boards are cut with uniformity in mind, so there is almost no variation in their size or shape, unless specifically selected.
Both engineered and solid wood flooring can be made from different species of wood, most commonly oak – for its all-round robustness and gorgeous grain – but engineered wood flooring can be made from a wider variety of wood types.
Solid wood floors need to be made from specific hardwoods such as oak and walnut, but due to the layered and reinforced composition of engineered wood, softer or more unusual wood types can be used to great effect.
Solid wood flooring, being made entirely of one type of high-grade hardwood – and cut to an average thickness of 22 millimetres – will generally cost more than an engineered floor, which uses a 2–6 millimetre cut of the same quality hardwood for its top layer, with our engineered timber base making up the rest of its bulk.
For the same look and benefits of solid wood for a fraction of the price, we recommend opting for engineered wood.
With timber yield per plank in mind, it is no surprise that solid wood flooring has a much greater impact on the environment than engineered wood.
Both can be sourced from managed woodlands – as is our entire range – which considerably lessens the impact manufacturing will have. But as solid wood flooring requires so much more timber than engineered wood, it is not a feasible option for customers seeking an eco-conscious flooring type.
Learn more about how engineered wood is changing the face of real wood flooring.
Both engineered and solid wood have a set ‘wear layer’, which gives each some give in terms of durability. When compared for their durability, the results are virtually equal – given that each is made from naturally hardy timber such as oak.
Both can also be sanded and resealed if necessary, but we recommend checking the thickness of the wear layer on your engineered planks to make sure they are not sanded too deeply.
Water & Heat Resistance
Real wood is porous, as well as highly hygroscopic – which means it absorbs moisture from its environment and naturally expands and contracts with its intake. This susceptibility makes solid wood flooring an unwise choice for overly wet environments or areas where temperatures fluctuate, such as kitchens and bathrooms especially.
Solid wood has much less dimensional stability in this respect, and is much more susceptible to environmental changes – for example, heat and moisture changes will cause the wood to expand and contract. As a result, solid floors can often fail in modern centrally heated or air-conditioned buildings and homes.
Finishes can provide hardy protection against water damage. But most solid wood flooring comes unfinished, as a standard, so is much more at risk than engineered wood – which will always come pre-finished with some kind of protective oil or lacquer.
Out of the two, engineered wood comes out on top when it comes to water and heat resistance. This is, again, thanks to its plywood core, which provides more stability than solid wood and, most importantly, more flexibility. This means engineered wood is much less likely to warp and subsequently damage as a result of changing temperatures or humidity.
Maintenance & Lifespan
Overall care for both engineered and solid wood flooring is relatively similar. Both should be swept and vacuumed regularly in order to prevent loose debris from embedding into the grain or scratching the wood’s surface, but are equally easy to clean as long as you opt for products specifically tailored to real wood flooring.
As we mentioned before, the lack of finish on the majority of solid wood flooring will put it at risk if liquid spillages are not mopped quickly. Engineered wood flooring can survive longer if water is left to stand, but this is still not recommended.
In terms of lifespan, all hardwood matures with age – so will most often be stronger old than it was new, thanks to the fascinating composition of the wood itself. It is one of the reasons we have been using it in construction, and as a flooring solution, for countless years.
Refinishing involves sanding down the top layer of hardwood, in the case of solid wood flooring, and recoating it in the preferred oil or lacquer, as is most often the case with engineered wood flooring. When sanding, we are working through the natural ‘wear layer’ of the flooring.
Both engineered and solid wood have this layer. Solid wood flooring can be sanded several times in its life, and with the right care can last a lifetime. Engineered wood can be sanded a few times before it will need replacing, as its hardwood layer is thinner than that of solid wood variants.