Know the Difference: Solid Wood or Engineered Wood?

Solid wood was once exclusively used for flooring but as engineered wood made its way into the market the two have become competitors. Customers now have to choose which type to install in their home, and despite the educated piece of advice from the seller, the final choice is still up to you. Namely, wood for the floor is ideally purchased once in a house’s lifespan so you have to be 100% certain you have made the right choice. Not to mention the high price which practically forces you to make the right choice. Essentially, both types of flooring wood have their advantages and disadvantages, so individual needs of your house are going to be the determining factor when making the final decision. That is why it is good to get to know the characteristics of both solid and engineered wood.

Which one is more durable?

If you want the wood to last for decades, then solid wood should be your first choice. Since it is cut out from a single piece of solid wood it is more resistant to mechanical damages and possible exposure to the elements. Engineered wood is made from several pieces so it is more prone to damage, as parts of it might chip away if you drop something on it, like a mug. However, its several layers mean that it is more resistible to moisture damage, so if a mug breaks on it, like in our example, the liquid that spills on the floor will not damage the surface. The same cannot be said for solid wood floors as natural materials are better absorbers, so even small-scale flooding can leave the wood damaged beyond repair.

Which room can they be installed in?

Having mentioned the moisture issue solid wood has, in general, it should not be installed in rooms where it is likely to come in contact with water or other liquids. Bathrooms and kitchens are out of the question, while powder rooms can be good candidates for solid wood floor unless they have moisture issues. However, the most suitable rooms are the living room and the bedroom, where they would fit nicely into any design. If you need to install a floor in an underground room, like the basement, then engineered floor would be the only stylish solution. Their relative resistance to moisture makes them ideal candidates for flooring in a garage or a basement man cave or saloon.

Installation and maintenance

In most case, an engineered wood floor is delivered pre-finished to the construction site, which is a trend in solid floors too. A long time ago, unfinished solid floors were delivered to the building where they were supposed to be installed but this process took too long to complete. That is why today barely a quarter of builds use unfinished solid wood as it is mostly prefabricated and then just installed on site. Of course, in both cases, acquiring the wood from a premium timber supplier ensures the floor’s longevity.

When it comes to maintenance, the most important procedure is sanding. Engineered wood can be sanded only a few times before the surface protective layer gets worn off, so this contributes to their shorter life span than solid wood’s. The latter can be sanded several times more but it too losses structural integrity over years, although at a slower pace. Basically, both kinds of wood require maintenance in form of protective layers and polishing that need to be applied during any major renovation work on the house.

So which one to choose?

In the end, it all comes down to what effect you want to achieve with the type of wood you are installing. If you want to cover several rooms and want a good-looking, relatively cheap, and practical solution, then stock produced engineered floor is the best option. On the other side, if you wish to go for a stately natural look that will last for decades, then solid wood is the ideal flooring. Just be sure to remember that you and your family will be the ones threading it, so always choose what suits your needs the best.

Having read about the upsides and downsides of solid wood and engineered wood, you are ready to discuss this issue with the contractor. And remember, the final choice is up to you!

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