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What's the Difference Between Engineered and Solid Hardwood Flooring?

Every homeowner knows the importance of good flooring, especially since floors are one of the main home surfaces that will mirror abrasion. Also, anyone who has watched home renovation shows on TV or YouTube has seen the attention given to flooring.
There are many things to consider when choosing the type of flooring. If you decide to go the hardwood route, here are some of the crucial factors to take into account:
Hardwood types
There are many types available in the market. However, experts recommend two, namely solid hardwood or engineered hardwood.
One can either purchase finished hardwood or raw hardwood. If you decide to buy this type of hardwood flooring, it becomes much easier to install; also, you will know how to coordinate all other interior design elements for your house, for instance, cabinets and textiles.
If you prefer doing the finish at the site, then you have to rely on the contractor to do an excellent job. The good thing is that onsite finishing allows homeowners to customize the flooring sealant and color.
Type of finish
There are two main categories of home finishes, namely: polyurethane and oil. Oil finishing is both aesthetically pleasing and cheaper to maintain. However, it is less durable and not damp proof.
Although it may not be expensive to keep refinishing, you have to do it often. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is impermeable to stains and can withstand scratches. However, if and when you decide to do maintenance, it is more involving, and you may have to replace various floorboards.
Hardwood grain pattern
There are three ways in which logs are cut, namely: rift-sawn, plain-sawn, and quarter-sawn. The choice depends on the homeowner's desire. For instance, if you are going for a more rustic look, then plain-sawn is the best option.
Hardwood plank width
Traditionally, contractors used either a 2-inch or 3-inch width for all planks. Today, the planks are much wider. One thing to note is that wider planks are more expensive, so you should only go for this type of planks if you are willing to make a dent in your pockets.
Now that we know the key factors to consider, for the next section, we shall pay particular attention to engineered and solid hardwood flooring, their different properties, installation, costs, and durability. This will help you determine which hardwood type is right for you.
Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood flooring consists of narrow boards that have highly compact seams between each board. This type of flooring comes in a variety of colors, such as white oak, brown walnut, graphite, and grey-toned solid hardwood. There's also a range of species, and the five main ones are walnut, maple, oak, cherry, and hickory. What's more, is that solid hardwood flooring is available in both prefinished flooring and raw unfinished flooring.
Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is wider and less compact with grooves between each flooring board. This is because of its beveled edges, unlike those found in solid hardwood flooring. Additionally, this type of flooring is almost always available and has fewer colors as well as species.
There are three directions in which all types of wood move, namely: tangential, longitudinal, and radial.
Solid hardwood flooring has very thick flooring boards of about ¾ inch. Also, their interaction with moisture makes it harder to install. Only a qualified contractor should install this type of flooring. Our hair shrinks when it's cold and grows during the humid season. Solid flooring behaves similarly to our hair. These flooring boards will shrink during winter and expand during summer when there's humidity.
Therefore, whoever does the installation must leave enough space that will allow such shrinkage and expansion. If done badly, the floorboards will either buckle or become extremely wide during winter. The only method for installation is nailing to the subfloor. Experts advise against using solid hardwood in wet areas such as bathrooms as well as laundry areas. Kitchens are also not suitable due to moisture, heat, and the high probability of damage from falling utensils.
Engineered hardwood consists of many ply layers that are glued together using adhesives. In terms of direction, layering allows the floors to oppose the natural movement of hardwood. The manufacturing process for engineered hardwood creates a stable core that makes them resistant to humidity and moisture effects.
This is perhaps their greatest advantage over solid hardwood flooring because it makes them flexible. Engineered flooring is preferable in concrete subfloors such as in condos and basements. The installation method is relatively easier, and some people have no issue with 'DIY'ing.
Abrasion (Wear & Tear)
There are two main things to consider when looking at the durability of hardwood flooring, namely: the type of wood and the type of finish used.
As for solid hardwood flooring, you should go for the tougher hardwood types, such as mahogany. Also, as mentioned earlier, the type of finish will determine how fast your floor will require repairs or touch-ups.
When it comes to engineered flooring, you should focus on the layering properties. A veneer of approximately ⅙ inch is more resilient that one of 1/12 thickness. However, you must remember that thicker boards mean more money.
Also, pay attention to the installation process of engineered hardwood. Go for the finishing that can withstand UV light as well as constant rough treatment such as scratches and stains.
Pet Friendly?
Solid hardwood flooring is susceptible to warping as a result of moisture and heat. Its texture is also slippery hence not safe for pets due to the risk of falls and injuries.
Engineered type is more stable and can withstand humidity. The floorboards are more water-resistant, so the risk of injury is low. Also, choosing a rustic finishing will prevent you from having to refinish regularly because the scratches will mimic the design.
Solid hardwood has tougher boards allowing homeowners to do regular refinishing, sanding as well as stripping of floors. It would be best if you chose thick planks to allow you to refinish several times in the future. Also, it's best to do it during winter when it's less humid. The process is often messy, so it would be advisable to move your loved ones to a hotel until the refinishing is complete.
Engineered hardwood can only be refinished a few times. Even so, you must find out from the manufacturer if the flooring will hold up. Typically, a thicker veneer layer of about ⅙ is best.
Cleaning solid hardwood flooring is easy, allowing homeowners to sweep, vacuum, or use a specific wood cleaning soap. Look for equipment that has microfibers, softer bristles as well as terrycloth material.
Engineered hardwood requires more delicate cleaning materials due to its low ability to refinish and sand down.
Overall, both flooring requires maintenance, and it would help if you placed rugs all over the house and encourage shoe removal. You may also want to trim your pet's nails to prevent scratches unless you have rustic floors.
The costs for flooring vary and are dependent on labor costs and purchase costs. You may also want to check the warranty duration of the flooring. This is useful when you have a very tight budget both in the present and in the future.
Since solid hardwood can come in unfinished versions, you have to consider installation costs. Remember that the installation process is intricate and can only be done by an expert. The average cost is $8 ft2.
Engineered hardwood is likely prefinished. Therefore, you won't have to worry about installation costs. Typically, this flooring type is cheaper than solid hardwood. However, if you are looking to buy a thicker veneer, then you need to be willing to spend more.
Overall, each flooring type has its pros and cons, so it all comes down to the homeowner's decision. The lifespan and other limitations matter, so you need to do your research. Note that most real estate professionals agree that solid hardwood has a higher resale value due to their durability.

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