What’s best for hardwood floors – solid or engineered?
Stylish, hard-wearing flooring options are everywhere these days, and for some people, it can be hard for many to decide which product is best suited. Solid wood has long been the preferred option, and it still is among the purists. But for those who consider practicality and price equally, engineered wood floors have carved out a notch in the interiors industry – and it’s a deep one. Modern engineered wood makes up the majority of wood flooring products on the market, and gives its solid wood counterparts a run for their money. Here’s how these different hardwoods stack up.
With solid hardwood, what you see is what you get – a single, solid piece of wood, through and through. This also means that solid hardwood floors are susceptible to expansion and contraction due to changing temperatures and humidity levels, and can cause floors to shift and buckle, if not installed properly. Engineered wood is made with a plywood base, glued and topped by a thin veneer of hardwood, giving you the look of solid hardwood at a fraction of the price. Engineered wood can also be installed over different surfaces, such as existing wood. Cost aside, there are some other big differences to consider.
When it comes to finishes, both solid hardwood and engineered wood floors can be pre-finished, or finished on site. However, one benefit to solid hardwood over engineered wood is that it can be sanded and refinished numerous times, whereas engineered wood can only be sanded twice, before the veneer wears through. Keep this in mind. Most of us will refinish a floor only once or twice in our occupancy of a particular home, so this isn’t typically a deal-breaker.
In terms of durability, the battle between hardwood and engineered wood is a draw. When making your decision, consider how you intend to wear – and tear – your floors. Because engineered wood only consists of a thin top layer, it’s easier to chip or scratch than hardwood. When it comes to water, engineered wood wins, withstanding exposure to moderate moisture better than hardwood. This means in hallways and living rooms, solid wood works. In a kitchen, powder room or bathroom, engineered wood is more practical.
I seem to be singing the praises of engineered wood floors thus far, but remember that not all are created equal – “created” being the operative word. Engineered floors are manufactured, and quality can vary. If you’re considering engineered wood, ensure you’re sourcing a quality product from a trusted manufacturer.
One of my go-to choices for quality, colour and style options is Canadian brand Fuzion Flooring. I love working with this brand for their engineered woods, and many of my clients today have opted for this alternative, thanks to its price, practicality and beauty. Engineered wood now comes in a range of types, such as oak, maple, birch, cherry, as well as more exotic options. All wood products, solid and engineered, have their pros and cons. Make an informed decision and work with a professional to ensure you’re selecting the best product for your home and lifestyle.
Andrea Colman is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc.
With almost two decades of reno and design experience, her firm services clientele throughout the GTA. The growing boutique design firm is known for creating stylish, harmonious, livable environments.