Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood Floors: Things to Know

Most home owners have no idea about 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, and WFC Wood Floor Cleaner is happy to help.

Wood flooring is often installed based on the geographical conditions of an area. It would be a big mistake to install solid hardwood floor in areas with high moisture content, for example.

Rather, an engineered hardwood floor will be the suitable choice for such an area. In detail, let’s explore the meaning and difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood.

PS. If you own a pet, you will want to check out our newest article How do you remove old urine stains from hardwood floors?

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 pieces of plywood that crisscross in different directions, all laminated together by an adhesive substance to form a plank.

The main aim of 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 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 be glued down directly to the concrete subfloor without placing a barrier and the adhesive glue will still act as a barrier to moisture and water.

Engineered hardwoods are cheap compared to solid hardwood. Many still provide the aesthetic value of a hardwood floor.

Engineered wood can last a lifetime, just like a solid hardwood floor. Installing an engineered wood floor is also easier than a solid one.

There is a great range of installation options such as stapling, nailing, and gluing, 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 floors are durable and highly valuable in homes. This type of flooring requires consistent care and maintenance.

Despite being the most expensive and longest lasting, hardwood floor is vulnerable to moisture, humidity, and water.

Any exposure will lead to warping or twisting, among other types of damage. A polyurethane or wax finish is normally used to protect a hardwood against such conditions.

Which Is More Durable?

Solid hardwood floors can last for many decades. They 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 integrity over a long enough period of time.

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.

Proper protection and care can ensure a lifetime of use.

Engineered wood floors do last long if the right materials are used in making the planks. It can still get damaged with water when flooded or left standing for long time.

The wood can be sanded only a limited number of times in its lifetime. Multiple sandings can wear off the top layer.

Engineered wood responds much better to environmental changes than hardwood, which is the main reason for its use.

Which Is More 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 a few areas of the house such as the living room, dining room, and the bedrooms. It cannot be installed below slopes and in 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 the top hardwood layer, designs, and more.

Engineered wood can be installed in more places in your house including below slopes, and in 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?

The standard thickness of a solid hardwood such as red oak is ¾ inch with a 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 it’s installed in. While some places may require thick wood, others may need only thin.

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 types require regular dusting with a mop or broom to remove dirt and debris.

Deep cleaning should be done on a biweekly or monthly basis to sanitize and remove sticky dirt and grime.

Ensure the surface is completely dry after cleaning with water based cleaners using a mop, for example. If water is left standing on the surface, it can penetrate into the wood, making it 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’s surface, making it look cloudy. Some may even damage the protective seal of the wood making it become vulnerable.

How about Care and Maintenance?

Any wood floor requires great care and maintenance to stay beautiful and last long.

This mainly includes regular cleaning, using area rugs in high traffic places, using mats at entrances 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 solid hardwood is the possibility of installing it in most grade levels and below ground surfaces of a home.

Both types of hardwood are beautiful, durable, and add value to a home.

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