When it comes to deciding between solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring, a lot of homeowners get confused, and cannot decide which one is better for them. As renovating the floor or installing a new floor inside the house costs a lot of money and you cannot redo it if you do not like it or it is not what you wanted. So, you must learn about the flooring options that you have so that you can decide better and get what you want for your floor. Solid hardwood floors and engineered hardwood floors are two of the most trending flooring types in the United States. For a homeowner, it is very important to know the difference between these two and also know the pros and cons of these two as well.
What’s the difference between SOLID VS ENGINEERED HARDWOOD?
The basic difference between these two flooring types is that the solid hardwood floors are raw or finished wooden planks that are cut directly from the tree trunks and shaped into floor planks. As they are directly cut from the tree trunks, they are hard, heavy, and have a larger lifespan. While the engineered hardwood floor planks are created inside the factories and they are not cut from the tree trunks directly. Inside these factories, these floor planks are created using plywood and glue. Multiple layers of plywood are layered over one another with the help of a sticky glue that keeps them firmly in place. This increases the strength and durability of these floor planks. Below is a further explanation of each of these floor types.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
As the name suggests, it is made up of solid hardwood, that is cut into plank shapes for the floor. There are a lot of species of trees that are used for this purpose, such as Mahogany, Hickory, Maple, and Oak. All of these hardwood species have their properties and differ from one another in terms of color, shape, size, strength, and durability. The prices of each species are also different, some are very affordable, such as the Maple and Oak, but some are very expensive and luxurious such as Mahogany and Hickory. Below are some of the pros and cons of solid hardwood flooring.
Pros of Solid Hardwood Flooring
Here are some of the pros of solid hardwood flooring.
- Variety: Solid hardwood flooring comes from different tree species and every tree species has some distinct visual properties such as the color of the wood, and grain structure of the wood. This creates a lot of variety of hardwood colors, shapes, grain structures for the flooring. Some hardwood species come in lighter shades, while some have a dark shade. So, it works with multiple interiors based on light or dark themes. This increased variety makes it a more suitable choice. You have the choice of natural colors to match your already present floors, kitchen cabinet, or furniture.
- Natural Look and Feel: As the solid hardwood floor planks are cut from the tree trunks and just shaped into the floor planks, the natural look and feel of the wood is preserved in them. This natural look of wooden floors and warmer feel while walking is something that a lot of homeowners look for. The feel of these floors is warm as the hardwood floors tend to absorb light and this absorption of light keeps them slightly warm during the cold winter days.
- Thicker Planks: Solid hardwood flooring planks are cut thicker so that they are stronger and can bear the weight. Thickness can vary depending upon the flooring species that you choose for your floor, but still, most of these flooring planks are much thicker as compared to other types of flooring planks. This increased thickness makes them heavier but also provides them more strength, more durability, and increases their overall life span as well. Thicker and heavier floors also create less noise when you are walking on them. So, this can help you make your floors more silent. The thicker planks of these floors allow them to be refunded or refinished.
- Strength and Durability: Solid hardwood flooring planks are only made from species of trees that have a lot of strength and durability. These trees have harder wood, with higher density. This increases their strength and ability to withstand the challenges that are faced by the floors for a very long time. Strong hardwood floors are also durable, meaning that they do not get damaged. This makes them an ideal choice for home flooring purposes if you want a floor that is strong and durable.
- Long-lasting Floors: As you already know that the solid hardwood flooring planks are thicker, stronger, and durable. These properties combined make solid hardwood floors a long-lasting flooring solution. Some of these floors, if properly taken care of can last for over a century. Flooring costs a lot of money, and it would not be wise to install a floor that would require renovation or complete reinstalling of a new floor after a few years. That’s why having a solid hardwood floor is better as it can last over fifty years to hundred years. The age of these floors mostly depends on the flooring species that you choose but still, they can last longer as compared to any other type of wooden flooring option available in the market.
- Smooth Surface and Edges: The surface and edges of these solid hardwood floors are comparatively smoother as compared to any other type of hardwood flooring. This is because these floor planks are properly sanded and sometimes sanded with the hands. This increases their smoothness and the edges of these floors are also properly leveled and smoothened. This increased smoothness is very important, as it makes them easier to clean, and provides a premium experience of walking over the surface of the floors. If the edges of the wooden floors and surface are not properly smooth, you have to get it resanded, which increases the cost of floor installation. You can save this cost by choosing solid hardwood flooring.
- Easier and Cheaper to Repair: Solid hardwood floors are comparatively easy to repair and are also cheaper to repair if some part of the floor is broken, scratched, or gets dented. This can be easily treated and repaired. Small scratches can be treated without the need of replacing floors but some larger scratches or dents in floors that cause obstruction sometimes require that part of the floor or that plank to be replaced. This ease of repair also lowers the costs of repairing or even replacing these floors as well. So, if you want a floor that lasts longer but requires less repair, or is cheaper to repair, solid hardwood flooring is the best option to choose.
- Can be Refinished Several Times: One of the biggest benefits of having solid hardwood flooring is that you can refinish it several times. You can do resanding of your flooring, you can apply new layers of protection over its surface, and refinish it to become further smooth and leveled. This is something that no other hardwood flooring option provides. This is possible with the solid hardwood floors because these floors are made from thick flooring planks. This thickness allows the refinishing, but other types of hardwood floors have multiple layers of materials over their surface and if you try to refinish them, their surface gets destroyed that is why solid hardwood flooring is better than any other kind of hardwood flooring.
- Adds More Value to Your Property: If you are looking forward to selling your property after renovating the flooring, then solid hardwood flooring is the best option for you. It increases the value of your property. Most new homeowners look for houses that have wooden floors, especially solid hardwood floors that are more in demand because every homeowner knows about their strength, lifespan, and other properties. This increases the chances of a quicker sale, and also it adds value to your property, meaning that you will be able to get a better profit for the investment in hardwood flooring.
- Pre-finished or Unfinished Planks: If you are choosing a solid hardwood floor species, you will have the option to choose the pre-finished planks or unfinished planks. The pre-finished planks are already finished planks and require no finishing work. You can just directly install them on your floor. While the unfinished floor planks option provides you the floor planks that are just cut and shaped but require sanding and finishing. These are finished on site. This further increases the available variety of flooring and allows you to finish the floors as you want. This also impacts the overall cost of flooring as well. The prefinished flooring planks cost a little extra amount, while the unfinished floor planks are more affordable. But the installation charges of the unfinished flooring planks can increase if you do not want to sand the floor on your own.
- Fits All Kinds of Interiors and Styles: As you already know that solid hardwood floors are available in multiple colors, shapes, sizes, and shades. This increased variety makes them a suitable choice for every kind of interior and furniture style. It fits contemporary interiors, also trending light-themed interiors, kitchen cabinets, and wall paints. These solid hardwood floors come in darker shades and lighter shades as well, meaning that they can fit in darker environment settings and also in the lighter environment settings as well. You can choose any type of flooring color, shade, and grain structure to match your interior design and kitchen cabinet color. This makes these floors a better choice as compared to many other wooden flooring options.
Cons of Solid Hardwood Flooring Options
Here are some of the disadvantages of solid hardwood flooring.
- Costs more: The cost of these floors is usually more in comparison to other flooring options, such as engineered hardwood flooring. Some of the solid hardwood flooring options are also cheaper such as Oak and Maple, but they are not as strong and hard, and they also limit the choices that you have. So, if you are looking forward to having solid hardwood flooring of good quality, you should keep in mind that these floors would cost a lot more. The hardwood species such as Hickory and Mahogany are one of the high-cost options that you have, these are considered luxury flooring options but their price is comparatively more than the engineered hardwood floors. Not only this, but these floors also cost a lot more in terms of finishing, installing, cleaning, and maintaining the floor as well.
- Changes Color: This happens with all kinds of wooden floors but on solid hardwood floors it is more apparent. The color of the solid hardwood floors fades over time and these floors become darker and darker. This happens due to the absorption of light by the wooden floor. Hardwood in these floors tends to absorb light, this is how your floors remain slightly warmer, but this increased heat changes the internal structure of the wooden floor and slowly changes its color.
Darker shades of solid hardwood floors are more impacted by this, and it is more apparent in them. This is something you should keep in mind while deciding on a flooring type for your home. Sometimes this color change makes the floor more attractive but sometimes it can destroy the overall look of the floor.
- Not ideal for DIY: If you want to install your floor on your own, then solid hardwood flooring is not a good option. This is because the solid hardwood floors require a lot of work. Apart from work, they also require experience, a person without experience might damage the floor planks during the installation process, which would further increase the installation price. This is something to keep in mind if you want to do it yourself.
- Less Resistance to Water: Solid hardwood floors are coated with the help of materials that make them partially water-proof. These materials can resist the water for some time. This gives you enough time to clean the water from the floor before it causes any damages to the floor. But in solid hardwood floors, this protection is comparatively less. This means you will have some protection, but it would not be enough.
Also, this protection wears off over time and you will have to re-apply this protection on the flooring. That is why hardwood floors are not considered a good option for places with a higher frequency of water spills. Not only the water but also moisture is a problem for these floors. Solid hardwood floors are impacted by the moisture in the surrounding area. If there is more moisture in the surrounding, there is a higher chance of your floor getting damaged. This is something very important to keep in mind while choosing to floor for your home.
- Less Resistance to Scratches: The surface of the solid hardwood floors has almost no protection against scratches. The hardness of their surface protects them from potential scratches, but as time passes, the surface becomes weaker and increases the chances of scratches on the surface of the flooring. Also, if you have pets or small kids in the house, the chances of your solid hardwood floor getting scratched further increases. That is why this type of flooring is not considered ideal for pet owners. The sharp nails of these pets can scratch the smooth surfaces while they are walking over them. These scratches then require a proper filling or maintenance. This further increases the cost of maintaining these floors.
- Less Resistance to Pests: There are a lot of pests that eat the wood, and solid hardwood floors have no protection against these pests. This less protection causes early damage to the floor and it can significantly damage the floor and impacts its age as well. This less resistance to pests can cause the complete damaging of the floor as well. This means you will have to re-install the entire floor if the pests continue to spread. To prevent this, you have the option to choose hardwood species that are better at resisting pests. But still, no species provides 100% protection against pests. This is something you must consider according to your conditions before choosing solid hardwood flooring. If pest attacks are a common problem in your area, you should not choose solid hardwood flooring.
- Requires More Maintenance: As you already know that these floors have comparatively less protection and are more exposed to scratches, pests, and water. This means there is a high likelihood of your solid hardwood floors requiring maintenance. Not only this, to prevent the cracks and keep the floor surface smooth, you have to refinish the floor over time. This increases the frequency of maintenance required. This increased frequency of maintenance not only requires a lot of time and physical efforts, but also requires a lot more money as well.
- Not Suitable for Basements: Basement and below-grade environment are more exposed to damages, due to humidity and moisture in the surroundings and the floor. That is why solid hardwood floors are not considered a suitable choice for basement floors due to their lack of ability to survive in such moist environments.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood floors are also wooden floors but they are not just cut from the tree trunks, these floors are made using wooden materials, and glues. First, wooden material is converted into plywood material. After that several layers of plywood, materials are joined using very strong glues. Each of these layers of plywood has its properties. Through this procedure, the engineered hardwood floors are created. These engineered hardwood floors are thinner as compared to solid hardwood flooring, but they have more strength, hardness, and durability. Below are some of the pros and cons of the engineered hardwood floorings.
Pros of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Here are some pros of the engineered hardwood floors.
- Hardness: Engineered hardwood floor planks are extremely hard. This hardness makes them strong and durable. The reason behind their extreme hardness is that these floors are made with layers of multiple materials that are overlapped and pressed. This makes them extremely hard and strong. This hardness enables these floors to last longer and also enables them to bear heavy weights, pressure on the surface. This increased hardness helps make these floors more stable.
- More Resistance to Water: Engineered hardwood for floor planks is created in a way that it becomes hard and its surface is more protected from water damages. Due to this hardness, there are no pores on the surface of engineered hardwood flooring planks. No pores on the surface mean there is no way for water to get absorbed into the floor planks and cause any kind of damage. This more resistance to water and protection from water damages and moisture makes these floors a more suitable choice for areas where moisture and water damages are a common problem. This is something to keep in mind while deciding on a flooring option for your house.
- More Protection from Scratches: Scratches are one of the major problems for most wooden floors but not for engineered hardwood floors. Engineered hardwood floors have an extremely hard surface that prevents small scratches from pointy objects and sharp edges. Though it does not provide 100% percent protection against scratches, it still provides more protection as compared to solid hardwood floors. Also, the surface of these floors is shinier and can help you hide the scratches if they occur over the surface. This increased protection helps you lower the cost of floor maintenance. That is why this is an important feature to look into a floor type.
- Increased Strength and Durability: As you already know that engineered floors are made with special procedures that make these floors hard, and strong. This increased strength enhances their ability to withstand the challenges faced by a normal floor such as scratches, wear, and tear. It makes these floors more durable and long-lasting as well.
- Slow Color Change: Like solid hardwood floors, engineered hardwood floors also absorb sunlight and change their color over time. But this color change in engineered hardwood floors is much slower. The layers in engineered hardwood floors prevent this color change. These floors take more time to change their color, this makes them a more suitable choice if you want a floor that can retain its color for a longer time.
- Can be installed in basements/bathrooms: As these floors are better able to resist moisture and decay, these can be installed anywhere. Even in places where solid hardwood floors are not a good option such as basements and bathrooms. You can install an engineered hardwood floor without any concerns in any part of your house. You can install it in the basements, bathrooms, high traffic areas, such as kitchens and hall rooms. This makes them an ideal choice if you want the same type of floor in your entire house.
- Easy to Install, Clean, and Maintain: These engineered hardwood floors are easier to install, even you can install them on your own without the help of an expert. This makes them a very popular choice among DIY people. Not only this, but these floors are also easier to clean, work with and maintain. As these floors have a surface that is hard and does not absorb water, you can wash the entire floors with water and mop them to clean them properly. This makes them easy to clean.
Engineered hardwood floors are easy to maintain as their surface is protected from scratches and damages. Fewer damages require less maintenance, not only this, but they are also easy to maintain as well. You do not need to be an expert to properly maintain an engineered hardwood floor.
- Comparatively Less Expensive: Mostly these floors are comparatively less expensive as compared to solid hardwood floors. This makes them more budget-friendly for a lot of homeowners. But you need to make sure that you are choosing a well-engineered hardwood floor because a lot of cheaper engineered hardwood floors are not good.
Cons of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Here are some cons of engineered hardwood floors.
- Limited Refinishing: As you know that these floors are mostly thinner and have a very fine thin upper layer. This upper layer comes already finished and you cannot refinish it again and again as you can do with a solid hardwood floor. This makes them not a suitable choice for the people who want to be able to refinish their floors over time again and again.
- Edges are not smooth: This is one of the most common problems that are faced by engineered hardwood floor owners. The edges and the surface of these planks are not as smooth as they are in the solid hardwood floors. This is because these floors come prefinished from the factories. You can also try resanding them to make them smoother but this would increase the overall cost of installation and maintenance of your engineered hardwood flooring.
- Adds less value to your property: Engineered hardwood floors add less value to your property in comparison to solid hardwood flooring. A lot of buyers who are looking for a new home, prefer choosing the one with solid hardwood floors and not an engineered hardwood floor. That is why these floors add only a small value to your property and do not provide a lot of profit on your investment. So, if you are a homeowner looking forward to selling the property, you should make sure that you keep this factor in mind as well.
- Look and feel is not natural: Look and feel of these floors is not similar to the natural wooden floors. Engineered hardwood floors are created using a lot of processes that involve the use of multiple chemicals, glues, and plywood. This creates a strong floor but the look of this floor is not natural. Also, when you walk over these floors, they do not feel like a real or natural floor. So, if you are looking for a high-end luxury natural look, engineered hardwood floors are not a suitable choice.
- Low-Quality Core Construction: Engineered hardwood floors are strong if their core material and core construction are done using high-quality materials. If the materials used in the core of the process of core construction were poor, you would not get the same results. A lot of engineered hardwood floors have a core that has lower quality. This lower quality instead of making them strong, hard and durable, makes them weaker. These types of floors then get destroyed very easily over time. So, if you are spending money on engineered hardwood floors, make sure that you choose the right type of engineered hardwood floors.
In the article above, we discussed the pros and cons of each solid and engineered hardwood floor. Both of these floor types have their advantages and disadvantages, the final decision is yours to make, but you should keep your requirements in mind. If you know what are your requirements, you can decide better what type of floor you need. For example, if you want a luxury, natural-looking floor with a smoother surface, then solid hardwood floors are a great choice. But if you need a hard floor, require less maintenance, and are easy to install then engineered hardwood floors are a better choice. Also, you can match the floor with your interior if you choose solid hardwood flooring as it provides a wide range of varieties in wood color shade, and grain structure.
Each one of these is best for different conditions and different requirements. That is why you should explore your options before choosing any type of flooring. Each of these also has limitations that make them not suitable for some conditions, such as solid hardwood floors are not a good choice for the basements, while the engineered hardwood floors are not a choice for long-term flooring.