There are many different flooring options available today that look stunning and can hold up well to wear and tear. But with a myriad of options, it’s not always easy to know which is best for your home and lifestyle. Solid and engineered hardwood flooring are some of the most popular choices.
If you’re unsure which type of hardwood flooring is a good fit for your property, our dedicated experts at Rome Flooring are happy to help. Today, if you’re wondering, “what is the difference between solid and engineered hardwood flooring?” then no worries, as we’re here to help!
Solid hardwood is just as it sounds – it’s made from solid wood, which understandably represents a higher cost but can be well worth the investment. It can be constructed from any one of the main hardwood species, including ever-popular walnut, oak, maple and so on. There will be natural variations in the grain of the wood, knots, and splits. The flooring undergoes a quality assurance process to ensure that these variations are within established tolerances.
Solid hardwood flooring comes in various colours as a result of being available in many beautiful and sought-after wood species. The planks are typically longer and narrower, with seams that interlock tightly (this seam is known as a “micro v”). You can also choose between solid hardwood that is unfinished or prefinished.
The fact that solid hardwood has its own personality and doesn’t look “perfect” is what lends ample character and textured richness to any space. This is especially true if you go for a species of wood with a more sporadic and pronounced grain.
Solid hardwood flooring is very durable and resilient, especially nowadays when it is typically treated for added protection from UV rays and moisture. However, it can be susceptible to dents and scratches. Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished in the future, however, which is perfect for when it starts to fade (especially for more light-sensitive species like walnut) or shows signs of wear.
It’s also important to note that, as solid wood can be damaged in overtly moist or dry conditions, you need to mitigate risks like cracking, warping, and rot. This is why regulating indoor relative humidity is important. The optimal relative humidity range for solid hardwood flooring is between 35 and 55 percent, which is also the healthiest range for human occupants and family pets. The flooring must be kept in these conditions in order to be covered against humidity damage under warranty.
Where engineered hardwood flooring differs is its core, which is typically made of dense layers of plywood with the grains crossed for added strength. A thin hardwood veneer surrounds the core, which is then given a surface treatment to seal and protect it against everyday use and foot traffic. This is a great option that can mimic real hardwood, and it costs less since it isn’t a single, solid piece of wood all the way through. Not only that but, unlike with solid hardwood, engineered hardwood can be used in conjunction with radiant heat installations.
Most engineered hardwood is pre-finished and is available in multiple colours and wood species. The hardwood veneer on the exterior will show signs of character, given that it will have natural variations. The planks for engineered flooring tend to be wider as well. And, unlike the tight seams that solid wood planks create, these usually have slight grooves between the boards as the void tolerance is higher.
Engineered hardwood that’s prefinished can also hold up quite well, but since the surface is solid wood, it can also endure some marks and scratches. But as many claim, it helps to give it some lived-in character. The crossed-grain plywood core is a strong and long-lasting option, but it’s important to have the right environment for engineered flooring in the first place.
On that note, to maximize longevity, it’s best to have engineered hardwood exposed to relative humidity conditions between 25 and 80 percent in a nailed-and-glued installation. For floating engineered hardwood floors, the relative humidity should be between 30 and 60 percent. Engineered hardwood flooring comes with better lifetime stability warranty coverage against humidity.
Conclusion: What Kind of Structure Suits Your Project?
All in all, solid and engineered hardwoods are ideal in their own unique ways. That’s why we offer both types as well as site-finished and prefinished hardwood options. The key consideration in making your choice is the type of flooring structure you need, as we’ve