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Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring
by Olde Wood

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring

In addition to the obvious beauty that a hardwood floor adds to any area, it also serves the homeowner as an investment that pays dividends in the long run. Once you have decided to invest in your home, it must be decided which type of hardwood flooring will be the wiser investment for your particular situation.

Olde Wood customers have the choice of ordering either a Solid or Engineered hardwood floor. While indistinguishable to the eye, the two options are very different, and in some situations one may be a better choice than the other.

SOLID HARDWOOD

Also known as “lifetime" hardwood, Solid flooring is exactly what it sounds like—the same solid board all the way through each wide plank. A Solid floor can be re-sanded and re-finished several times. Although how often re-sanding is needed will vary based on wear levels and taste, every twenty years is a good rule of thumb. Using this number, a Solid hardwood floor can be expected to easily break the century mark.

ENGINEERED HARDWOOD

Glued and layered under high pressure and heat, Olde Wood Engineered hardwood boards are composed of a 4 mm hardwood “wear layer" set atop a nine-layer Baltic birch plywood. This surface layer has as much sand-ability as most solid hardwood products, and can be re-sanded and re-finished up to five times.

The top 4 mm of each board are no different from the top 4 mm of a Solid board. It is underneath this solid surface layer that the two options differ from one another. The nine-ply birch plywood beneath the solid top layer gives Engineered hardwood an element of stability and versatility that allows it to be installed in environments and conditions that are not optimal for Solid hardwood.

Like Solid hardwood, Engineered is an authentic hardwood product and no end-matching is required for installation. This holds true with all of our wide plank flooring.

WHEN TO USE WHICH

While in many cases either option may be chosen for a particular floor, there are certain circumstances where one choice is certainly better than the other.

WHEN SOLID IS BEST

One of the most notable advantages of a Solid hardwood floor is its ability to be refinished and repaired many times. Unlike Engineered hardwood, which only has a 4 mm wear layer, Solid hardwood usually has a 6-7 mm wear layer. Having approximately twice the wear layer allows for more refinishes and the repair of deeper dings and dents than would be possible with an engineered floor. A Solid hardwood can easily last over 100 years.

(You should consult a professional on whether your floor needs refinished or re-coated. Refinishing is usually an extreme choice and many of our textured floors were never, or will never need sanded. Often, the process of re-coating can bring a floor back to it's original charm. This is one of the major advantages that homeowners enjoy about our textured floor offerings.)

A Solid hardwood floor also has more desirable acoustic properties and is generally stronger than an engineered floor.

If strength, longevity through wear, or acoustic purity are deciding factors, then Solid hardwood is best.

WHEN ENGINEERED IS BEST

A Solid hardwood floor can only be installed on an above-grade or on-grade surface. Above-grade is any surface that is above ground level, such as the second story of a house. On-grade is any surface that is between ground level and four inches below ground level. Any surface more that is four inches below ground level is considered below-grade (or sub-grade), and requires Engineered hardwood.

Olde Wood Engineered hardwoods are built on an especially designed core composed of nine layers of plywood that alternate in grain direction.

With each plywood layer glued with its grain direction opposing that of the layers above and below it, the engineered core gives the flooring an otherwise unreachable level of stability. This allows the authentic wide plank flooring experience to exist in conditions that would otherwise be unsuitable.

Drastic changes in temperature or moisture can cause a Solid hardwood floor to expand or shrink, resulting in noticeable cupping or crowning of the boards. An Engineered floor is far more resistant to dryness, moisture, and temperature change. It can also be installed directly over top of sub-grade concrete.

These characteristics make Engineered the de facto choice when a floor is being installed in an environment with higher than average moisture, dryness, or temperature change. Basements and seasonal homes are common environments that benefit from an Engineered floor.

Please note: The use of hardwood floors should be avoided in areas with extreme temperature and humidity condition swings. If you're not sure about whether or not this includes your area, please call.

NOT ALWAYS OBVIOUS

Many people live in climates with only moderate temperature change. Some foresee the need to repair deep dents but worry about moisture. Price can become a factor. It's not always obvious which option is best.

That's what we're here for. Drop us a line or let us know about your project in the comments below and we'll help you decide which option is perfect for you.