Comparing The Old and New - Hardwood Flooring vs. Engineered Wood Flooring

Flooring
Additions and Remodels
By Contractors.com Team July 15, 2021

Hardwood has always carried an esteemed ring with its name, and for good reason. Solid hardwood flooring materials such as oak have beautiful aesthetic qualities and can impart a lot of warmth and character to space. Oak is also an exceptionally strong wood, meaning it can last quite a long time given proper maintenance and care. As long as you avoid damaging your hardwood and clean it regularly, it could even last a lifetime. Plus, hardwood flooring costs can be pretty affordable in certain applications. 

Alas, hardwood also has a reputation for being somewhat high-maintenance when compared to other floor materials. By contrast, engineered flooring is supposed to be a more resilient alternative. Engineered wood is made up of many layers of wood fibers and veneers which are bound together with glue. The result is a flooring material with a lot of structural rigidity and versatility. This design is intended to make engineered wood a more durable material that won’t warp due to moisture or temperature changes and won’t be as prone to rot.

So, the question, therefore, becomes the following; which flooring material option is the right fit for you? Both have their own benefits and drawbacks when it comes to durability, installation, cost, and maintenance, and all of these factors should play a role in helping you to resolve this question. Flooring is an important part of any home remodel, so it’s important to explore every option before settling on a choice.  

Costs

If you’ve clicked on this article, it’s safe to say you aren’t interested in vinyl plank which imitates wood, but instead are looking for the real stuff. Of course, premium options come with premium price tags, even if the look and feel of premium flooring materials like solid hardwood can be priceless. 

How to Create Attractive Floor Transitions

How to Create Attractive Floor Transitions

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood ranges from $13 to $25 per square foot to buy and install. This makes it among the pricier flooring options.  

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring starts at $3 and goes up to $8 per square foot, giving it a clear price advantage over solid hardwood. This is a benefit that carries over to flooring maintenance costs as well.  

Maintenance

Wood flooring varieties generally require more maintenance than other flooring materials since they can be more susceptible to moisture and temperature changes.

Solid Hardwood

As time goes on, solid hardwood flooring will develop scratches and marks from use, especially if it is in an area with high foot traffic. Thankfully, this can be easily rectified with some sanding and refinishing. You can refinish your hardwood floors many times over the multiple decades of solid hardwood’s lifespan. 

Tips and Tricks On Finishing Hardwood Flooring

Tips and Tricks On Finishing Hardwood Flooring

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring cannot be refinished more than twice in most cases because of how it is constructed. Unlike solid hardwood, engineered hardwood planks are instead made up of many thin layers of wood. Sanding an engineered wood floor, therefore, leads to the top layer of thin wood being sanded away, and this will start damaging the engineered wood after two refinishing jobs. 

Cleaning 

Cleaning is a pretty simple job with most wood floors, assuming that they are regularly maintained as needed. A bit of elbow grease is usually all that is needed to give a wood floor a beautiful like-new sheen. However, wood floors (especially lightly colored ones) are rather easy to leave marks on, especially if you often walk barefoot. This makes wood flooring prone to getting dirty faster than other floor materials. 

Solid Hardwood

Most of the time, regular sweeping and vacuuming will keep things spotless with a solid hardwood floor. However, you’ll also want to mop your hardwood floors occasionally with some water and a wood floor cleaning solution.  

How to Keep Hardwood Flooring Spotless

How to Keep Hardwood Flooring Spotless

Engineered Wood

The process of keeping engineered wood floors clean is the same as that for solid hardwood floors. Sweeping, vacuuming, and the occasional mopping with a wood cleaner are all that you need to do. 

Moisture and Temperature Resistance

Moisture and temperature variation are the two main enemies any wood floor must contend with. Over time, these two factors cause wood planks to swell and contract over and over again. You may have noticed this phenomenon if you have a wooden front door that suddenly has difficulty opening and closing because the door no longer fits in the doorway. This flexing cycle will eventually cause wood to crack, warp, and come apart. However, some wood materials can better resist these two enemies than others.      

Solid Hardwood

Solid Hardwood is pretty susceptible to moisture and temperature changes, and so is somewhat limited in where it can be installed. It is not recommended, for instance, that you put hardwood in your bathroom. Hardwood that is put in a wet part of the house or in a very humid environment is at risk of warping, swelling, and can even become a hub for mold and mildew. For this reason, it’s better to avoid putting hardwood against concrete or in wet parts of the home without extensive waterproofing. 

Engineered Wood

Engineered hardwood is better suited for more humid climates because it is less prone to warping and swelling. If you absolutely must have wood flooring in a wet part of the house or in a very humid environment, engineered hardwood is your best bet. 

Ways to Prevent Long-Lasting Floor Stains

Ways to Prevent Long-Lasting Floor Stains

Installation

One cool thing about wood flooring is that it is one of the easiest flooring materials to install yourself. At most, you’re looking at a job that requires the use of a hammer, some nails, and basic measurement-taking. That’s great news for anyone looking to make wood flooring more affordable with DIY solutions. 

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood is usually put in with a tongue and groove system, whereby each board is nailed to the subfloor material using tongues that are attached to the edges of the hardwood boards. If you buy prefinished hardwood flooring planks, you can install them yourself in a matter of days. 

Why You Should Install Your Own Flooring

Why You Should Install Your Own Flooring

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring can be installed using a similar method, but there are easier options available as well. Engineered wood can also be glued into place if you have a concrete subfloor. Some forms of engineered hardwood come with click-lock edges where installation is simply a matter of clicking the engineered wood planks together.  

Tools and Equipment You'll Need for Flooring Installation

Tools and Equipment You'll Need for Flooring Installation

Added Value From Your Floors

High-quality hardwood flooring materials are excellent choices for a home remodel because they will significantly increase your home’s value. This is the main reason that wood flooring can be such a good long-term investment for your home. 

Solid Hardwood

Hardwood flooring is a very attractive feature for potential home buyers, and realtors place a premium on homes that have it for this reason. This is in part thanks to the durability of solid hardwood, as well as its premium look and feel.   

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring has the same value-adding benefit as its solid hardwood counterparts. However, some people may find it less desirable since it doesn’t last quite as long as solid hardwood.  

How to Pick Flooring Colors

How to Pick Flooring Colors

Longevity

Though they are prone to scratching and moisture, wood floors can last for decades provided that they are maintained regularly. So if you are looking for a flooring material that can withstand the test of time, wood just might be the best answer.  

Solid Hardwood

The best solid hardwood floors can last anywhere from 30 to 100 years with regular maintenance. 

Engineered Wood

Engineered hardwood is generally limited to a 30-year lifespan since it cannot be repeatedly refinished. 

Nifty Cleaning Hacks for Wood Flooring

Nifty Cleaning Hacks for Wood Flooring

Look

Despite their rather marked differences, hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood look remarkably similar to each other, especially on the surface level. When the two flooring types are installed, it’s pretty hard to tell them apart. It’s only when you look deeper that you see some differences between the two materials. 

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood planks are usually thinner than engineered hardwood planks. They come in a wider range of colors than engineered hardwood as well, and when installed the seams between hardwood planks are quite thin. 

Wood Floor Inspiration That Will Brighten Up Any Room

Wood Floor Inspiration That Will Brighten Up Any Room

Engineered Wood

Engineered hardwood flooring is usually made up of wider planks that have visible layers tightly packed together. The seams between engineered hardwood planks are usually wider due to a slightly different design, and the planks themselves are usually wider as well. Unlike hardwood planks, which can be bought both in unfinished and pre-finished form, engineered wood planks can only be bought pre-finished since they are a processed wood product.  

Best Flooring Options for the Rustic Aesthetic

Best Flooring Options for the Rustic Aesthetic

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team