Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ask The Experts: Engineered Hardwood Flooring vs. Solid Hardwood

There are lots of questions about the different kinds of hardwood flooring that are on the market.  Which is which, what makes them different, and which is best for your house.
Jim answers a few of these questions in our first Ask The Experts post.

There are many kinds of wood flooring materials on the market.  What are the main differences between an engineered product and a solid one?  Aren't they both "hardwood flooring"?  

A solid hardwood floor product refers to a solid plank of wood from a particular species.
An engineered hardwood floor product refers to one in which the top layer, or wear layer, as it’s called is the wood of the desired species and below that are three (3) or more layers of staggered plywood pressed together to form the planks.
In contrast to these two solid products, a laminate is actually a picture of the desired type of wood imposed onto a board.  This is what give a laminate it’s uniformity, whereas solid products are more varied in grain and color, as a tree in nature would be.

I’ve heard that hardwood flooring cannot go in all homes.  Is either engineered hardwood flooring or solid hardwood flooring more sensitive to environmental conditions?

Definitely.  Wood floors expand and contract over the course of the year.  Solid flooring is extremely sensitive to the moisture levels of the subfloor. Because it is a totally natural product, it absorbs moisture from the environment and needs time to acclimate.  This process can take up to six (6) months sometimes!  Concrete subfloors hold a lot of moisture and this needs to be properly evaluated by an expert to ensure appropriate levels.  A solid plank is also not truly straight, requiring it to be nailed down.  As you can imagine, this is VERY difficult to do on a concrete subfloor.  An engineered product on the other hand, is much more stable because the amount of “natural” wood included is less, usually pre-acclimated, is truly straight and capable of being glued down onto a concrete subfloor.
Putting a solid product over concrete IS possible, but costly.  Not only does additional work needs to be done to the subfloor to accommodate this, the type of plank used is shorter making the job more labor intensive.  Other factors need to be accounted for when installing hardwood flooring, too, even the grade the home is on is important.

Pic courtesy of
Are both types of flooring equally as durable and require the same care?

Both are durable.  Hardwood flooring is one of the most durable types of flooring you can get.  Solid hardwood flooring will typically require sanding and finishing and can carry a guarantee usually for 10 – 15 years.  Engineered products will usually come prefinished, meaning the finish will be baked on at the factory and will be harder.  These hardwood floor products usually will carry a guarantee of about 25 – 30 years.  Care is the same for both types.  Using a manufacturer recommended cleaner, such as Bona, is best.
We strive to give the customer the best product that will also give them the best longevity.  We want to install it correctly, the first time, so you are happy with your home!  We want to do all the necessary evaluation beforehand to guide you to the product that best fits your home and your decor!
If you are considering investing in the beauty of wood flooring in your home, please call us for a FREE in-home consultation to answer all your questions.  Elliott Floor Covering happily serves all of southern California.
Call Jason at (949) 279-8858 or Jim at (760) 427-3933 for an appointment!

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