Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood

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(photo credit: @studiomcgee)

It’s a question we get asked all the time – what’s the difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood? Is one more durable than the other? What’s the price difference? When remodeling or building a new home you want to make sure you are making the right choices, and that can be hard to do because there are SO many decisions to make. In this little series we’ll crack the code for you on common questions we hear from clients. First up: solid hardwood vs. engineered hardwood!  

Hardwood

It’s authentic, timeless, and durable. Just like it sounds, its 100% solid hardwood and is installed as individual planks on top of your sub-floor. You can get pre-finished or site finished hardwood – which means the wood stain you choose can either be applied after it’s installed in your home or applied where it’s manufactured. With a site finished hardwood, depending on the sub-contractor, you have a lot of customization in terms of choosing a color. You can apply a couple different swatches on site to determine what looks best. Solid hardwood can also be sanded and refinished over many years. 

Engineered Hardwood

Typically less expensive than hardwood, engineered hardwood is made up of different layers that are glued and pressed together in a manufacturing facility. It’s still real hardwood, but just made up of separate pieces. When installed correctly, it is pretty difficult to tell the difference between engineered hardwood and solid hardwood. Both engineered and solid hardwood have a variety of options in terms of plank size, wood species, and wood stain. However, if you are someone who loves the look of wide planks (over 5") engineered hardwood may be the better option for you since solid hardwood planks don't go wider than that. While both engineered and solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished, you can only sand and refinish engineered hardwood 1-2 times because of it's thin veneer (top layer). If the engineered hardwood is hand-scraped or has another type of texture you won't be able to get that back if you were to refinish.   

Ok I get the difference between the two now, but is there one better than the other?  

No. It all depends on the client, climate, and cost. Having solid or engineered hardwood in your home will add value to it. Both provide better air quality, acoustics, and an elevated look.  

Here's a quick list of helpful questions to ask yourself which one works best for you:  

  • What's your budget? This is a huge driving factor in any home project. You'll need to look into material costs AND labor costs. Just because one material might be less than the other, labor costs could be the defining factor in which choice is more expensive 
  • What's your style? Both solid and engineered have a lot of options to choose from so you'll want to do some exploring to see what you like best  
  • Where will you be putting hardwood? Is it going in a basement or on a concrete slab? Will you be using radiant flooring? If you answered yes to any of those questions than you'll want to consider engineered hardwood as your best bet. Because of the separate pieces layered together it provides a different kind of stability that's resistant to changing humidity and temperatures.

We want to hear from you! Did you like the start to this informational series? What other topics do you want to learn or have questions about? Let us know in the comment section below!