Hardwood vs. Engineered Wood Flooring – Which is Right for You? – Forbes Advisor

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Hardwood flooring is made from solid wood and it is one of the most popular flooring options. It is usually made of hardwood species such as maple, oak or walnut. And it has a much longer lifespan that allows for sanding and refinishing over and over again.

Engineered wood flooring looks almost identical to hardwood on the surface, but instead of a single plank of wood, it’s made of a high-grade plywood core with a thin layer of wood flooring. hardwood on top. Engineered wood flooring is a more affordable option, but it cannot be refinished to extend its life. Both surfaces are used throughout the home and they are nearly identical in terms of benefits, leaving the choice up to a very personal choice.

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Main differences

Hardwood floor

Hardwood flooring, also called solid wood flooring, is often made of a species of hardwood. Popular species include maple, walnut, oak, and cherry. Solid parquet comes from a machined piece of solid wood, hence its name. Installing hardwood floors involves nailing the wood planks to the subfloor, a project that requires some skill. Because it is solid wood, it can easily be sanded and refinished several times over its life to maintain its appearance.

Engineered wood floors

On the surface, engineered wood flooring is designed to look and feel identical to hardwood flooring. But, its construction only uses a thin layer of hardwood to achieve its appearance and has a plywood core. Installing engineered flooring is easy to DIY and comes in glued or interlocking planks that make installation a breeze. Because its top layer is just a thin layer of hardwood, it can’t be refinished as often as solid flooring, but it can still last up to 30+ years with proper maintenance.

Main differences

Which flooring is the best?

Appearance and comfort

Hardwood floor
Hardwood flooring planks vary in width, ranging from 8 inches to 12 inches wide. Once installed, solid flooring tends to have tighter joints between planks. It is available in a wide range of colors and species in pre-finished and unfinished panels for further customization.

Engineered wood floors
Looking almost exactly like hardwood, engineered wood flooring offers more flexibility in terms of width. Due to the veneer layer, engineered wood floors could easily be mistaken for solid wood once installed. Engineered wood floors are almost always sold prefinished and there are fewer color and style options than hardwood.

Maintenance and care

Hardwood floor
Solid hardwood is relatively easy to clean and maintain. Most floors only need sweeping and vacuuming, with an occasional mop with a special wood cleaner to deal with stains. Just avoid using water or steam to clean wood floors.

However, hardwood floors are best suited for long-term maintenance, as they can be sanded and refinished several times over their lifetime to look like new.

Engineered wood floors
Like hardwood, engineered wood floors only need sweeping and vacuuming to stay clean. Cleaning it occasionally with a wood cleaner can help prevent stains and revitalize the top layer.
Most engineered wood floors don’t have a hardwood top layer thick enough to sand and refinish over time. In most cases, they can be refinished once or twice before the hardwood layer wears off and you have to repair the boards.

Lifetime

Hardwood floor
Hardwood floors have a much longer lifespan than most types of flooring available. Hardwood floors can last between 30 and 100 years with proper maintenance and care. That’s why you still see a few homes with hardwood floors from the 1850s.

Engineered wood floors
Although engineered wood flooring cannot be refinished as often as solid hardwood, it can still last up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance. Although not all flooring can be sanded and refinished, one of the advantages of engineered wood flooring planks is that they can be easily replaced, especially those installed with the click-and-lock method. .

Cost

Hardwood floor
Of the many types of flooring on the market, hardwood is among the most expensive. Prefinished hardwood floors can be expensive $8 per square foot. On average, you can find hardwood floors priced between $8 and $15 per square foot.

Engineered wood floors
On the other hand, engineered parquet is a more economical flooring option. Engineered wood floors vary between $2.50 and $10 per square foot. But, most styles are available on $4 to $7 per square foot.

Installation

Hardwood floor
The majority of hardwood floors are nailed to the subfloor. Another common installation method is to use tongue and groove boards to join the boards together. Hardwood flooring must be attached to a subfloor, usually plywood. Then the boards are nailed to the subfloor through the tongue, so the nails won’t show when the floor is finished.

Engineered wood floors
Although some engineered wood floors are also nailed to the subfloor, in most cases this is done using the click and lock system. This installation method uses tongue and groove boards that interlock like Legos to create a tight seam. The system floats above the subfloor, often foam or cork.

Water, heat and environment

Hardwood floor
When it comes to water and the environment, hardwood floors are more sensitive than other floor coverings. Hardwood is not recommended for installations where moisture or moisture can pass through as it causes swelling and warping.

Engineered wood floors
Although engineered wood flooring is not waterproof, it performs better in wet locations than hardwood. Because plywood construction is more stable, this flooring is less likely to warp and swell. However, some engineered wood flooring may include a protective layer over the hardwood veneer to further protect against water spills and water damage.

Overall, hardwood and engineered wood floors have the same heat resistance. However, neither material is recommended for damp locations such as bathrooms and basements.

resale value

Hardwood floor
When it comes to selling your home, hardwood flooring is often seen as a quality addition that can increase resale value. The longevity advantage of hardwood floors and the superior quality are often a selling point for potential buyers. On average, installing hardwood floors can increase the price of your home by up to 2.5%.

Engineered wood floors
Because engineered wood flooring looks almost exactly like solid hardwood, it’s rarely a turn-off for potential buyers. However, it might not increase the value of a property like a hardwood floor would. There is no data to support the idea that engineered wood floors offer a higher resale value to a home.

Top Brands

Hardwood floor

  • Bruce Hardwood Floors
  • Mohawk Industries
  • Shaw floors
  • Armstrong Flooring
  • Carlisle Wide Plank Floors

Engineered wood floors

  • Somerset Hardwood Flooring
  • Of the forest
  • Harris Hardwood Floors
  • Bruce Hardwood Floors
  • Mohawk industries

Conclusion

In many ways, hardwood and engineered wood flooring can be used interchangeably in most homes. Both flooring options have more similarities than differences, making it a personal decision. The exception to the interchangeability of hardwood and engineered wood comes down to water damage.

Engineered wood flooring is a better choice in high humidity environments than solid hardwood, making it a better option for kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. But, for whole-home installations, both flooring options provide a wide range of style choices. It depends on your budget (parquet is more expensive) and your style preferences.

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