Engineered wood flooring vs solid wood flooring, which is best? The answer has and continues to be an ongoing battle, among many experts!
The face solid wood and engineered wood may look the same. Regardless, there are differences that you should be aware of.
- Both solid and engineered wood floors offer benefits and disadvantages.
- With both there is a wide selection of styles and colors to choose from.
Use: Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood
- Solid wood flooring can be installed on grade and above grade, but not below grade.
- Solid wood performs best in a moisture-controlled environment.
- Engineered wood flooring is more dimensional stable. Like solid wood floor it can be installed on grade or above grade.
- While solid wood floor cannot be installed below grade, engineered flooring can.
- Engineered flooring can also be installed in many areas where moisture prevents the installation of solid wood. When moisture is a problem, the advantage goes to engineered flooring.
Installation: Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood
- Solid wood strip or plank, installed with nails or staples will usually require a wood or OSB subfloor or underlayment.
- Glue down solid wood can be glued over a variety of substrates.
- Engineered flooring will also require a wood or OSB substrate, when nailed or stapled down.
- Glue down engineered flooring may be installed over a variety of substrates.
- Some engineered floors can be installed as a floating installation, where solid floors cannot.
- If you need a floating floor, engineered wins this battle.
Heat and Moisture: Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood
- Solid wood planks expand and contract with a change in temperature and relative humidity.
- Engineered floors will also expand and contract but not nearly to the degree of a solid wood floor.
- With both floors, moisture related expansion and contraction is primarily in width. The change in length is usually minimal.
- Properly manufactured, engineered wood flooring is constructed with cross ply contraction. Each layer of ply is staked with the grain running in the opposite direction. The plies are laminated together, which helps to prevent expansion and contraction.
- Some engineered floors are plied with woods of different species and densities which may not be as stable.
- When installed in a high moisture environment, the expansion-contraction advantage, goes to a properly constructed engineered wood flooring.
Long Term Performance: Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood
- For long term performance, you may sand and refinish a 3/4″ solid wood floor as many as 10 times. You will find the original solid wood flooring in many houses that are over 100 years old.
- With an engineered floor, you may be able to sand it once. Many engineered floors cannot be sanded.
- Solid wood flooring wins in the battle over engineered floor vs solid wood.
Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood Quick Comparison Chart
Fastener or staple installation
Scratch and dent
Reacts to moisture
On or above grade install
Below grade installation
Up to 10 times
0 to 2 times