Choosing between solid and engineered hardwood can be difficult if they have not been properly explained. A common misconception is that engineered hardwood is laminated and therefore is not real wood. This is not true, both solid and engineered woods are 100% real wood. The difference between the two is the construction. However, there are pros and cons to both:
Solid hardwood is exactly what the name says it is – a solid piece of wood, which is most commonly sold at ¾” thick. The pro to solid hardwood is the fact that you can refinish the wood many times. When refinishing, the finish and stain is completely sanded off and the wood becomes raw. You can now re-apply new stain and new finish to come up with a new look! Most companies will only go as wide at 5” widths when producing solid products as the stability in wider widths would be harder to maintain.
The con to solid hardwood is dealing with the natural species. Solid hardwood has more movement (expanding and contracting) when humidity levels change and moisture is in the air. It is very important to have a humidifier if solid hardwood is the preferred product and levels should be between 40-50%. These products can only be installed above-grade and over a subfloor.
Engineered hardwood is built differently then solid hardwood. Most commonly, the core is made up of plywood with a veneer of hardwood that has been adhered together. Because of the plywood backing, engineered products are far more stable than solid products. You will see less expanding and contracting as the core holds the wood in place. The pro to engineered products is you can install this almost anywhere in your home – being above or below grade. As well, you can get widths a lot wider which gives you a gorgeous wide-plank look.
Engineered hardwood can usually be refinished just like solid woods; however far less times. This usually acts as a con towards the product as refinishing becomes a selling feature. Depending on the veneer of wood, engineered products can be sanded down 1-3 times. A common misconception is that engineered wood costs less than solid wood. In most cases, this is not true. Due to the extensive construction, usually engineered wood costs more than solid wood.
Since solid and engineered products have the same appearance, when choosing between the two always keep the practical considerations in mind. Ask the professionals which product is right for you … at the end of the day most companies will want their clients to have long-lasting products installed in their homes!