If you want hardwood flooring in your home, there are numerous choices available for homeowners today. Laminate floors are not really wood, but a type of plastic made to look like wood. That is easy to understand. But how to you know the difference between solid and engineered hardwood, flooring? Which is the best product, and which one should you install in your home? Both solid and engineered hardwood floors are made of real wood, unlike laminate. There are several other differences between the two types of floorboard, however, that you need to consider depending on your home’s subfloor and where in your home you intend to install them.
Solid Wood Floors
Solid wood floorboards are made out of a single piece of wood. The top of the wood is finished, but the grain and color go straight down to the bottom of the board. You can therefore refinish and sand down the top of the board as many times as you’d like without disturbing or ruining the floor.
Solid wood floors are subject somewhat to moisture, meaning that they swell with moisture and shrink again when dry. This means that they cannot be installed below grade or in finished basements, because the moisture levels would cause the boards to warp over time. They also may not work well on concrete subfloors because concrete doesn’t totally block moisture. Even a moisture barrier only helps to a point.
Engineered Wood Floors
Engineered wood floors are made of hardwood, just like solid floorboards. The difference is that they are made up of several different layers of wood, each running a different direction. Only the top layer is meant to be finished. These boards can be sanded and refinished only a few times before you get to the layer below.
What makes engineered wood floors so beneficial is the way that the layers run in different directions. This means that the boards are much more stable in humid and wet conditions, and they are less likely to swell and warp. Therefore, you can install engineered wood floors anywhere in your home, including below grade and in finished basements. They can also work well with a concrete subfloor.
When installed, both types of hardwood floors look identical. You cannot tell the difference between them from looking at their surfaces. Therefore, it’s best to base your decision on the stability or longevity of the boards and which one will work better in your home.