It’s common in our line of work to work along side couples with varied interior design style or ideas. Sometimes we get put in that unfortunate position when tensions are high between the two people disagreeing on a finish, for example, and all eyes rest on us to make the final decision (no pressure!).
Currently we are helping a couple build their brand new home. It’s time to pick their hardwood floors – which will be used throughout the house. It’s a big decision, aesthetically and financially, and as a result, they are not seeing eye-to-eye. One is set on solid hardwood floors while the other stands firm on using engineered hardwood. Both sets of eyes are on us for the right final decision…
This got us to wondering: how many other people have had this exact debate during a reno or new build? What is the difference between the two hardwoods? Why are so many suppliers selling engineered? Well, we’ve done our research and bugged some pros we are lucky enough to know. Here we’ll share what we’ve learned with you in hopes that friends and couples everywhere can come to a peaceful settlement amongst home design strife:
Solid Hardwood Flooring
- Solid wood planks are milled from a single piece of hardwood that is typically ¾ of an inch thick
- As the planks are solid pieces of wood, they will expand and contract in accordance with the home’s humidity levels. To prevent warping, the home’s interior humidity level needs to be between 45% and 65% all year round to prevent gaps from forming in between the planks and against the wall
- Because they are solid planks, in theory, you could sand and re-stain the floor to your hearts content
- Because of the expansion/contraction issues, solid hardwood is limited to above grade installation
- Solid wood flooring is available in a wide array of wood—including oak, maple, and black walnut as well as regional-specific wood. There is also exotic species of hardwood from Brazil, Africa and elsewhere.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
- Hardwood planks classified as “engineered” feature multiple layers (typically three to five) bonded together under extreme heat and pressure
- Because of the way engineered hardwood is processed, it is not as affected by humidity as solid wood planks are
- Engineered hardwood floors are suitable for installation on all levels of the home and over plywood, wood and concrete subfloors. It is often the preferred choice for kitchens and bathrooms or in areas where the humidity level can vary
- Engineered wood is better suited for radiant floor heating
- Engineered wood planks now are being created with a tongue and groove installation method, much like laminate flooring. This means easier installation without the use of nails and glue
*We are by no means professionals when it comes to hardwood flooring specifics, so if you still have queries we urge you to go to the pros. They are passionate about what they sell and always happy to assist anyone with questions.
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