Home » Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood Floors: Things to Know

Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood Floors: Things to Know

Most home owners have no idea on the difference between solid and engineered hardwood floors. It is very important to know the type of flooring in your home so that you correctly choose the right cleaning and maintaining methods and products.

Wood flooring in most cases is installed based on the geographical conditions of an area. It will be a big mistake to install solid hardwood floor in areas with high moisture content. Engineered hardwood floor will be the suitable choice for such an area. In details, let us understand the meaning and difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood.

What is an Engineered Hardwood floor?

Engineered hardwood floors are made of a top layer of real hardwood and a core that consist of multiple plywood that crisscross in different directions laminated together by an adhesive substance to form a plank.

The main aim of coming up with an engineered hardwood was to come up with a lasting solution for environmental problems that face a solid hardwood floor. Engineered wood is resistant to expanding, contracting or warping when exposed to moisture, humidity and temperature changes.

This however makes engineered hardwood the best choice to use for flooring geographical areas with high moisture content like basements, over concrete slabs and over radiant heat sources or systems.

When installing this type of wood floor, a protective barrier is placed between the planks and the subfloor. Engineered hardwood can still be glued down directly to the concrete subfloor without placing the barrier and the adhesive glue will still act as a barrier to moisture and water.

Engineered hardwoods are cheap compared to solid hardwood in terms of cost. Although you can install in your home and still get the aesthetic value of a hardwood floor. Engineered construction can last a lifetime just like the solid hardwood floor. Installing an engineered wood floor is easier compared to solid one. There are great range of installation options such as stapling, nailing, and glue or simply fold and lock.

What is a Solid Hardwood Floor?

Solid hardwood floor is made using planks of pure solid hardwood obtained from strong resistant species such as Oak, Birch, Maple, Walnut and Hickory among others. Solid hardwood floor is durable and highly valuable in homes. This type of flooring requires good care and maintenance.

Despite being the most expensive and long lasting, hardwood floor is vulnerable to moisture, humidity and water. Any exposure will lead to warping or twisting and completely get damaged. A polyurethane or wax finish is normally used to protect a hardwood against such conditions.

Which one is more Durable?

Solid hardwood floors can last for many decades. It can be sanded and refinished multiple times to get a new look. Sanding many times can only make a solid hardwood become thin although this will compromise its standard integrity. Durability greatly relies on the wood species, maintenance and the nature of the protective finish used. Cleaning your wood floor with the right products and techniques can guarantee a lifetime durability. Always protect your wood floor against water, fix scratches and it will last longer.

Engineered wood floors does last long if the right materials are used for making the planks. It can still get damaged with water when flooded or left standing for long time. The wood can be sanded for only limited number of times in its lifetime. Multiple sanding can wear off the top layer. Engineered wood has stability over changes in environment the main reason that make it so special.

Which one is Expensive?

Solid hardwood floors are highly valuable and pricey to install. However, the cost may vary depending on the type of protective finish used, layout styles and stains among other factors. Hardwood is commonly installed in few areas of the house such as the living room, dining and the bedrooms. It cannot be installed below grades and basements due to its absorbent nature.

Purchasing engineered hardwood planks and installation is comparatively cheap. The cost may also vary depending on various factors such the thickness of top hardwood layer, designs and more. Engineered wood can be installed in more places in your house including below grade, powder room, and basements.

Both types of hardwoods can have a good resale value as long as they are in good condition. They all make a home more attractive and highly valuable.

What is the difference in Thickness?

Standard thickness of a solid hardwood such as red oak is ¾ inch with width of 2 ¼ inches. Flooring hardwood planks can also be available in other sizes ranging from 3 to 6 or more inches wide. For an engineered hardwood floor, standard thickness ranges from 3/8 inch to ½ inch. Width varies from 3 ¼ to 5 inches.

The thickness of the wood mostly depends with the area where installation is done. While some places may require thick wood others may need only thin size.

Is there a Difference in Cleaning?

Both solid and engineered hardwood floors are cleaned the same way, with same cleaners and techniques. The two flooring require regular dusting with a mop or broom to remove dirt and debris. Deep cleaning on biweekly or monthly basis to sanitize and remove sticky dirt and grime.

Ensure the surface is completely dry after cleaning with water based cleaners such as mops. If water is left standing on the surface, it can penetrate into the wood making it to warp. The adhesive used in engineered hardwood floor may get weakened when exposed to water for longer time.

Avoid using commercial cleaners with harsh ingredients on both engineered and solid hardwood floors. They can dull the floor surface making it to look cloudy. Some may even damage the protective seal of the wood making it to become vulnerable.

How about Care and Maintenance?

Any wood floor requires great care and maintenance to stay beautiful and last long. This mainly include regular cleaning, using area rugs in high traffic places, using mats at entrance to prevent soil and stones from being carried to the floor, using the right cleaning products and refinishing after 5 to 10 years.


Engineered hardwood floors are easy to care for and maintain as compared to solid hardwood. The main advantage it has over the solid hardwood is the possibility of installing it in most grade levels and below the ground surfaces of a home. Both types of hardwood are beautiful durable and adds value to a home.

Leave a Comment