Engineered floor vs solid wood flooring, which is best, this is an ongoing battle! With both types of wood flooring there are benefits and disadvantages. There are unlimited styles to select from in both engineered and solid wood floors. From the surface of the floor you will not know the difference but there are differences that you need to be aware of.
Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood Usage
Engineered wood flooring is more dimensional stable. Like solid wood floor it can be installed on grade or above grade. Unlike solid wood, engineered flooring can be installed below grade but you will need a table saw to do it. It can also be installed in many areas where moisture prevents the installation of solid wood. If moisture is a problem the advantage goes to engineered floor vs solid wood.
Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood Installation
Solid wood strip or plank requiring nail or staple down installation will usually requires a wood or OSB subfloor or underlayment. Solid wood can often be glued down over a variety of substrates.
Engineered floor will also require a wood or OSB substrate for a nail-down or staple-down installation and may be glued over a variety of substrates. Many engineered floors can also be installed as a floating installation where solid floors cannot. If you need a floating floor engineered wins in the battle of engineered floor vs solid wood.
Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood Heat and Moisture
Solid wood planks expand and contract with changes 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, expansion and contraction is primarily in width with minimal change in length.
With properly engineered wood, contraction and expansion are controlled through cross-ply construction (placing each layer of ply in the opposite direction). Once the plies are laminated together this helps to prevent expansion and contraction. Some engineered floors are plied with woods of different species and densities which is often not as stable. T expansion contraction advantage goes to a properly constructed engineered wood in an uncontrolled environment.
Engineered Floor vs Solid Wood Long Term Performance
For long term performance where you may want to sand an refinish your floor several times solid wood wins in the battle over engineered floor vs solid wood. A 3/4″ solid wood floor can be sanded and refinished up to 10 times. You will find the original solid wood flooring in many houses that are over 100 years old. Unlike solid wood, many less expensive engineered wood floors can not be sanded and refinished. There are better quality engineered floors that can be lightly sanded and refinished once or twice.
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