Wood Floor Maintenance

The Difference Between Engineered and Solid Wood Flooring

Rob Patwary

Rob Patwary

May 15, 2019

Professional advice supplied by the experienced team at Inner Space Flooring. Hardwood and Parquet Flooring suppliers and qualified wood floor installers based In Birmingham UK.

Need to discuss costs for a new Hardwood floor including fitting?, you can contact the team here

When making the decision to install wood floors into your home or commercial property, you can be faced with an extensive list of options.

From the species of wood and finish to the plank sizes and colours, there are a number of features that need to be taken into consideration, and the one we are addressing today is the choice between engineered wood and solid wood.

Unless you are a wood floor expert, it would be difficult to tell the difference between engineered wood flooring and solid wood flooring once it has been installed.

There are, however, some clear distinctions between the two and it’s important to be aware of them before choosing which type of wood flooring is best for you.

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What is engineered wood flooring?

Engineered wood flooring is made up of multiple layers of wood.

The surface, known as the wear layer, is your chosen species of real hardwood and is usually between 2mm - 6mm in thickness.

Beneath that is the base layer which makes up the remainder of the flooring plank and adds strength and stability.

The base layer itself can be made up of either a layer of plywood that is glued to the bottom of the wear layer, or a three-ply block construction which is usually a middle layer of Eucalyptus or Hevea glued to the wear layer, followed by a base of plywood.

Unlike laminated wood (many get confused between the two), engineered wood actually uses a thin layer of real wood; whereas, laminated wood only uses a high quality picture of real wood laminated onto high-density fibreboard.

What is solid wood flooring?

Solid wood flooring is a single, solid piece of hardwood that has been cut directly from a tree and made into a plank of flooring.

Thickness can vary greatly depending on your needs and budget but, for installations on top of floor joists it is advised that the plank be at least 20mm thick as it will act as a load bearing floor.

Unlike engineered wood flooring, solid wood floor planks need to be fixed to the floor during installation and cannot be floated above an underlay or it will lack stability.

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What are the benefits of engineered wood flooring?

Engineered wood flooring has many benefits when it comes to practicality and resilience which currently make it a more popular choice for homeowners.

For a start, it is usually the more cost-effective option so if you want the feel and look of real wood floors but don’t quite have the budget for solid wood, then engineered wood is a great alternative.

Not to mention, it is far more resilient to humidity and changes in temperature so it can be used for flooring in any room of the house without the constant worry of expansion due to moisture or water damage thanks to a leak.

It is also easier to install because it comes with a tongue and groove meaning that there are a greater range of installation methods available, including the click system.

What are the benefits of solid wood flooring?

The biggest benefit of solid wood flooring over engineered wood is its durability.

The surface of engineered wood flooring is thin so it can chip quite easily and can only be sanded down three or four times before the upper layer fades away.

On the other hand, solid wood is one solid plank of wood that can withstand a lot more stress before anything chips the surface and can be sanded down numerous times before its structural integrity is compromised.

If solid wood is well-maintained and looked after then it can last for decades, outliving most engineered wood floors (unless moisture plays a role).

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Which should I choose - solid wood or engineered wood?

There are many factors that need to be considered when making a decision between engineered wood and solid wood flooring, such as which room it is being installed in, your budget, if you want underfloor heating, etc.

If you are looking at wood flooring in a room of the house or in a building where moisture is prevalent - the bathroom or a conservatory being a good example - then you would be far better off opting for engineered wood flooring.

Its plywood base is dimensionally stable because of the cross-wise layers, so it flexes less easily when it comes into contact with moisture.

This also means that it can cope well with constant changes in temperature which makes it the perfect choice if you want the addition of underfloor heating.

Consider the traffic in that particular room too. A family room with children running around and visitors always walking in and out would be considered a high-traffic area and that would work best with solid wood flooring because of its durability and the fact that it can be sanded down and re-finished many times. Also great for a home with pets.

You may also prefer the ease and money-saving benefit of installing the flooring yourself. If that’s the case then engineered wood flooring enables the use of the click system which is an easy method of installation that anyone is capable of doing.

In closing, if you want the look and feel of real wood but have a practical bent or financial restrictions, then engineered wood flooring is your best option.

Though it does not have the longevity of solid wood, when well-maintained it has the lifespan that most family homes need. Plus, it can be used in every room of the house so it works well if you want consistency throughout your home.

Solid hardwood, however, is for purists who have long-time prospects in mind and don’t have an issue with spending the extra money or getting a professional to carry out the installation.

Though there is no real difference in resale value, solid wood flooring is seen as the more luxurious and desirable of the two.

If you would like any more information about prolonging the loft of your wood floors, or if you are interested in any of our products or services then call us today on 0121 684 4772 or email info@innerspaceflooring.co.uk