Engineered Vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring

By Cathryn Whitehead

  • Overview

    Engineered Vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring
    It's difficulty to tell engineered wood flooring from solid hardwood flooring by looking at it. Engineered wood flooring is made from the same types and grades of wood as solid hardwood flooring. The major differences between them are price, processing, how long they last and how many times they can be sanded down and refinished.
  • Types

    Solid hardwood flooring has no added material. It comes unfinished or prefinished and is available in more than 50 species of wood. You can choose from many different grades and cuts. Engineered wood flooring is made of many thin layers of plywood with a thicker layer of hardwood glued to the top. It also comes unfinished or prefinished and is available in planks, strips or parquet patterns in a variety of finishes.
  • Grading

    Solid wood flooring can be chosen according to the Janka rating system, which measures the hardness of the wood, and the Wood Flooring Manufacturer's Association grading system that describes what the wood looks like. Wood graded "clear" or "select" is more uniform and has fewer markings than wood graded "common." Engineered flooring can also be chosen by grading systems. Grade AA engineered wood is similar to solid wood clear or first grade with no knots or color variation. Grade AB is similar to solid wood select or second grade with slight color variations and few knots. Engineered character grade is like solid wood common or third grade, and engineered flooring also comes in cabin or tavern grades, which are lower priced but inconsistent in color, cut and quality.

  • Benefits

    Both solid hardwood and engineered flooring offer health benefits. They don't attract dust or other allergy-causing agents. They are both easy to take care of. You only need to sweep or vacuum, then mop with a slightly damp mop and wood floor cleaner. Solid hardwood floors increase your home's value; engineered wood floors usually don't. Engineered wood floors are easier to install than solid wood floors, and they resist humidity and moisture better. Solid hardwood floors can be sanded down a number of times, and you can change the color of stain if you want a different look.
  • Warning

    Look over the warranty and instructions that come with both types of flooring. You're better off choosing flooring from a company that's been in business for many years and is more likely to honor a warranty. Though it looks like solid wood flooring and can work better in kitchens and bathrooms, engineered flooring is more processed and not as environmentally correct. After some use, both types of floors will need to be refinished. Dust from sanding and fumes from the coating can be irritating, and you won't be able to walk on your floors for a few days.
  • Considerations

    The same care should be taken with engineered and solid hardwood flooring. Place rugs inside and outside of entryways. Don't wear high heels or shoes with cleats. Use area rugs and runners in high-traffic areas to keep the surface from wearing out. Clip pets' nails, put felt protectors on furniture, sweep and vacuum regularly, damp-mop when necessary and wipe up spills when they happen. Solid hardwood floors will last longer since they can be refinished more.
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