Engineered Wood Flooring Vs. Solid Wood Flooring
While choosing between “engineered wood flooring vs solid wood flooring”, it is likely that people may opt to go for solid wood because it sounds ‘all-natural’.
The question is – “Will it be the right decision to make every time you go for a wood purchase?”
Let’s dig out the details….
Engineered wood has been there for quite a long time in the market just to serve the exact purpose solid wood does. Technological advancement has fueled the emergence of multiple ‘restructured’ wood types; to furnish your home décor.
This may (or shall I say, should?) give you a hard time in deciding which one should be your flooring type. Is it the “classic age-old solid wood” you want for the durability fact, or the “engineered versions” must have the ‘X-factor’ your floor may need.
Without wasting your time, let’s jump into detailing both types of wood and find out which flooring types would be best suited for your needs?
What is Engineered Wood?
Engineered wood is simply the wood that is engineered or altered and redesigned to a certain level.
Is it not solid? Nope, it is not.
Is it not actually wood? Yes, it is.
It’s a bit difficult to explain it, but an engineered wood, contrary to popular idea, is not completely artificial, per se. Engineered wood is a type of wood that is manufactured with a mixture of a variety of materials like – wood fiber, saw-dust, associating chemicals and other trivial materials.
It’s a combination of thin layers of sliced hardwood put over a plywood base and glued together to make a thick wooden structure. It is actually made of all-wood, but NOT “homogenous” in nature. It’s a mix-up of multiple ‘wooden’ materials.
One of the most common types of engineered wood is “Medium Density Fiberboard”, aka MDF. This MDF is made simply out of saw-dust and wood fibre that is stuck together with strong glue.
The materials bonded together under extreme pressure and controlled temperature, which after finishing touch, can hardly be differentiated from natural lumber.
Some of the well-known types of engineered wood in the market are plywood, veneered wood, sun mica, laminate wood, etc.
“The thickness of engineered wood that is used for flooring can vary from 3/8 inch to half an inch. The width is commonly 3 ¼ inch with the plank being 5 inches wide in size.”
Pros & Cons of Engineered Wood Flooring
Now that we know the pros and cons of a solid wood floor, let's move on to the good side and not-so-good side of the engineered floor.
First to go - The “Benefits of engineered wood.”
Engineered wood is comparatively less costly than solid wood. That’s one of the reasons why it’s engineered – simply to cut the cost.
Note: “The average cost of purchase for engineered wood flooring can vary from $4 to $10 per square feet. Another $3 to $5 per square feet installation charge will be there. Removal of any floor can cost $2 per square feet.”
The way it is made involves non-natural materials to control the extra cost that might have been needed in the case of solid wood.
Using engineered wood for your house’s flooring means the price of it will be much lower than solid wood flooring.
You can look out for different engineered wood floor brands for price comparison in order to save more money.
Due to the low-cost nature of it, an engineered wood floor can be easily dumped and replaced if necessary.
It’s possible for today’s time that we are frequently swinging our moods. With a variety of gadgets in hand, we are always looking for something new and upgrading.
The same goes for flooring. If the color of the floor seems outdated, or you find some irreparable scratches that disfigure your floor or devalue its look, you can get rid of it easily.
Here, the lightweight and low cost play the driving role.
Doesn’t Bother Weather
Engineered wood goes through extra caution to make it more “DURABLE” against weather change. Unlike solid wood, this one doesn’t change its mood depending on the weather.
As it is structured to withhold better in moist weather, issues of warping, expanding or bending do not look like a possible threat.
Moreover, the engineered wood is less prone to insect attack.
Hence, you don’t need to bother about the weather, if you have engineered wood flooring at your house.
Almost Identical to Solid Wood
If you are looking for a low-cost option for a solid wood flooring feel, the engineered wood floor might be the IDEAL solution for you.
The way engineered wood floor is furnished, burnished and painted, it is hard for even experts to distinguish between the two flooring types on plain eyes. Until, of course; when you try touching it.
Nevertheless, it still can give you a premium solid wood floor feel without having you to expand your budget.
Not So Environment-Friendly
Some types of engineered wood such as plywood contain formaldehyde that affects the air around it.
This can pollute the indoor air in the long run. It’s better to find the plywood that doesn’t have these chemical formations, but it’s hard to find being a layman.
The emission of such chemicals can’t be detected physically and can’t be controlled or stopped. That’s one of the most terrible drawbacks of engineered wood made flooring.
The solid wood floor being made from natural wood has the unfair advantage of having greater durability. Engineered wood, on the other hand, fails miserably in this regard.
You can’t expect a non-natural, chemical mixture, and multiple thin layered wooden structure to be lasting long enough. It will surprisingly be satisfactory if they make it to 10 years or more without any major problem.
As we already know, engineered wood is made from layers of wood piled in one batch. This makes nuts and screws to get through the board and stick tight.
In the case of solid wood, the wood fibre allows the metals to grip well inside the timber. This is not in the case of engineered wood.
Even if you manage to put nuts inside, it will loosen and come out eventually.
So, this is a major drawback of an engineered wood floor.
Reaction to Heat
When using a floor made from engineered wood, make sure you don’t expose it to extreme heat.
The question remains – “How do you expose something to extreme heat?”
Well, the “ANSWER” is here: When you decide to use engineered wood floor at a room where the fire-stove or fireplace or anything of similar nature is placed, the wood will eventually up, and some of the materials (either chemical or physical) will get damaged.
And, the saddest part is – You won’t be able to repair it further. So, extra caution is required while using engineered wood on the floor.
Although engineered wood takes pride in being light weighted, it is frustrating that this furniture is incapable of carrying a heavy weight on them.
The possible reason could be its STRUCTURE!
In reality, the structure of this wood type doesn’t allow the floor to endure much weight pressure.
You can easily see that a plywood-made bookshelf, for example; gets slight dent and curve due to heavy loads of books for a long time. If your floor is made of engineered wood, the same may happen to it if heavy furniture is placed over it.
That’s not usual in case of a solid wood floor. It is an enduring heavyweight performer in this case.
What is Solid Wood?
Solid wood is what it sounds. It’s “SOLID”. It is the timber-extract that is harvested from trees. It is pure wood, made directly from the tree lumber, without any significant alteration to it.
The quality of such wood may vary depending on the species of tree it originated from. The sturdiness, thickness and overall strength of the wood can be categorized with respect to the lumber types of different trees.
Solid wood timber has wood strands all over it. With “zero hollow space”, solid wood can be referred to as a wood that has been just cut out of a tree.
Primarily, there are two varieties of solid wood – the hardwood and the softwood. As we said already, this softness and hardness entirely depend on the tree it has been extracted from.
Hardwood usually takes a long time to grow while softwood takes a shorter span of time to get ready to be used in furniture and floors.
Cherry, maple, oak, ash, walnut, etc. are prime examples of trees that produce hardwood. On the other hand, trees like poplar, pine, and fir would be the perfect choice to get softwood from.
“The thickness for solid wood used in flooring is 3-4 inches by the standard. The width can be around 2 ¼ inches. 5 inches to 11 inches width of plank size is considered as standard.”
Pros & Cons of Solid Wood Flooring
As you have already got familiar with different types of wood that are used in flooring, now it’s time for you to get into the good-bad-ugly issues of each type, before deciding to go for either.
let’s look at the pros of solid wood flooring.
Honestly speaking, no man-made design can supersede the very natural beauty of solid wood. The way it looks, the way it feels – that’s simply out of the world. You can’t just imitate the nature with a hundred percent success rate.
No matter how ‘wood-color’ you use to furnish the ‘non-natural’ versions of wood, it will not stand a chance to the eternal natural color of the solid wood floor.
The “DURABILITY” of solid wood floor surpasses time, literally. A good quality solid wood made floor can easily last DECADES, and if luck favors; even for a CENTURY.
The natural lumber that you get after removing it from a hardwood tree can be extremely sturdy, resistant and solid in nature.
It’s the reason why back in time, people used to contract bridges and heavy constructions with solid hardwood. Some of those may still be standing tall, testifying the incredible “DURABILITY” solid wood promises.
Being 'all-natural', a solid wood floor is less likely to emit any harmful substances. Meaning, your indoor air will never be polluted by solid wood flooring.
Chemical-formatted non-solid wood can cause this issue once in a while. That indicates, if you are opting to get flooring done with solid wood, you are positive about your health and freshness of the environment.
Solid wood can be given any shape you want as these are made completely from natural timber. Wood shops nowadays are offering a variety of shapes of wood for customized use.
At the same time, the solid wood can be easily hand-carved and shaped up into different forms because of the soft and natural grains it contains.
Meaning, even if your floor shaping varies in different locations of your house, it won’t be of any problem to get good solid wood flooring for it.
Low Maintenance cost
Given the massive durability a solid wood floor offers, it is obvious that it is like “Get it, Place it and Forget it.” Yes, it can have some minor scratches and cuts here and there, but these are extremely Easy-To-Repair.
A simple DIY technique is all you need to maintain these solid wood floors. After all, who would look for a carpenter?
With great “QUALITY”, comes a great “Price-Tag”. And, this is no different in the case of solid wood. The organic, natural solid wood demands to be claimed at a “PREMIUM” Price.
You must keep in mind that –
“The average cost of purchase for solid wood flooring can vary from $5 to $15 per square feet. In addition, another $3 to $5 per square foot installation charge will be there. Besides, the removal of any floor can cost $2 per square feet.
It’s TRUE that compared to the engineered wood, solid wood stays ahead in terms of durability, low maintenance, and natural factors. But, considering these factors, it is not at all surprising that you need to count more money to get a solid wood floor.
Although science has advanced immensely in recent decades, we are yet to find a solution to the weather-sensitivity of solid wood.
Under highly humid weather, solid wood is very likely to warp, expand or even shrink a little. This will clearly cause your floor to lose its natural appeal and look.
Therefore, a few dents and bents here and there can cause obvious issues with the “SMOOTHNESS” of your floor.
If exposed to a very moist nature, or in the damp area, solid wood is going to be damaged by moist for sure. Most of the unfinished solid wood is under the threat of such damage.
A nice little waterproof furnish may solve this problem. Still, you never know, the natural materials are always responsive to water.
Remember that – longer connection to water would result in a lesser lifetime and durability for the floor.
Threat of Infestation
Solid wood is a vacation place for wood insects. If any proper level of maintenance is not undertaken, it can cause an insect infestation both inside and outside of your wooden floor.
This is because it is natural wood. Keeping aside a woodpile in the woods will surely make it a safe haven for insects. And, indoor wooden flooring is not different than that, if not properly taken care of.
Comparison Table: Engineered Wood vs. Solid Wood
A bit of imitation of the natural look and color.
Completely natural and authentic look.
Low cost of purchase. From $4-$10 PSF.
High cost of purchase. From $5-$15 PSF.
Natural wood composition.
One hundred percent solid natural wood
Lasting may not be something that you may be satisfied with.
Lasts for decades without major issues.
No reaction to weather change.
Sensitive to changes in weather and subject to damage.
Emits harmful chemicals over time.
Doesn’t emit harmful chemicals
Not enough room for customization.
Can be customized, reshaped or retouched easily.
Immune to such attacks.
Subject to insect attack if placed in a damp area.
Higher maintenance cost.
Low maintenance cost.
Not likely to hold on to heavyweight furniture
Can handle heavyweight furniture
Reacts to overheating and can get damaged.
Doesn’t react to overheating in any area.
It needs to be used very carefully.
Less Care needed.
Not so pet-friendly.
Pet-friendly if solid hardwood is used.
Best using area
Kitchen, bathroom, dining room, balcony, garden area, etc.
Bedroom, living room, study room, etc.
Which One Is The Best?
By this time, we have gathered all the information for both solid wood and engineered wood floor. We found both good news and bad news for both the types.
It wasn’t that hard to find out, was it?
Now, it comes the hardest choice – “Which one is the best?”
The answer is….
Well, it depends.
Let us tell you why.
First of all, you must understand – it’s not about declaring a winner and handing over the crest. It’s about analyzing the need and finding out which one best suits your specific needs.
Based on the variety of needs and situations, chances are there that you will need both at different circumstances.
Engineered Wood Floor is Best For
Now let’s see in which cases engineered wood floor would suit best.
If the budget is low
Engineered wood, being less expensive and very affordable in nature; is a default choice for everyone who has a low budget. It’s a great option for a low price that provides the premium look and feels like a solid wood floor.
So, if budget is your issue, go for engineered wood floor.
If weather resistance is needed
Engineered wood is actually engineered to resist any kind of unwanted change that may occur in case of heavy humidity.
If you are planning to place your wooden floor tiles in such a place where moist may be a regular phenomenon, then without a doubt; you need to choose the engineered wood floor.
The same goes for folks who live in a damp area or anywhere where moist is a prevalent condition. Even if the floor gets wet at times, you don’t need to worry as its waterproof.
If insect–attack is a factor
This could be a sigh of relief for any wooden floor owner. Moist weather or damp environment can damage solid wood and bid welcome to insects that eat up the wood from inside.
Engineered wood floor solves this problem.
If you are not that fond of the classic look and durability of solid wood, keeping away from insect attacks may require you to buy engineered wood floors.
If set up is for wet-prone area
Again, if you are placing the wood in different rooms, check out which room may be subject to get wet or damp.
Rooms like bathroom, kitchen, dining room, a balcony that is exposed to open sky, etc. are actually very well suited by engineered wood floor because they are very much likely to get wet frequently if not always.
Solid Wood Floor is Best For
Let’s see when you should prefer solid wood flooring.
For some people, long-lasting is the only card on the table. If you are that kind of person, you should definitely choose a solid wood floor. It will last incredibly long, with nearly very low maintenance.
To ensure a safe environment
Very few people are concerned about environment safety nowadays, while it should have been everybody’s headache.
No emission of environment-harming chemical ingredients makes the solid wood floor the only choice for environment-concern individuals.
If you are planning to reshape the wood tile of your floor in the future or even redesigning it as well, solid wood is what you are looking for.
We have already discussed it in this article that solid wood has the ability to be carved and shaped as you like because of its natural substances.
If heavyweight is endurance is needed
Not all the rooms contain the same type of furniture in it. For example, the kitchen floor doesn’t carry much amount of weight on it compared to the living or bedroom floor.
We really don’t think about the weight-endurance of these floorings before putting on weight on those.
If you are planning to put a lot of weight on the floor, make sure you build it with solid wood.
It will endure more weight without any bending or damage.
If set up is for non-damp area
The room where you are placing your wooden floor tile plays a vital role in selecting the wood type.
If you are placing it in a room that doesn’t include a lot of moisture or doesn’t have a great chance of getting wet once in a while, then solid wood is the best one for it.
Bedroom, living room, guest room, corridor, etc. are places where you can use solid wood as these rooms are less likely to be damp every now and then.
Which Wood Is Suitable For Pets
Pets, especially cats and dogs; can cause various troubles to your wooden floor.
Cats and dogs, like any other clawed animal, like to scratch the surface of the floor. This is mostly because of the smoothness of it. Again, they can spill liquids that may put a stain on it.
Choosing the best flooring for your purpose, keeping in mind that the pets can ruin it; is also a great challenge itself.
Now, as there are many opinions around the question of which wood is pet-friendly, there may not be a single recommendation that may stand out as the best flooring for cats or dogs.
If you are a solid wood person, then you better make up your mind to use hardwood for sure. Extremely durable hardwood like Brazilian Walnut, Hard Maple, Oak, etc. are definitely the options you may browse.
Solid wood, has a better chance of sanding and refurnishing multiple times. As pets scratch numerous times, the need for sanding for the same amount of time is also necessary.
Engineered wood, such as laminated wood can also be of some help if you are looking for a scratch-resistant wooden solution. This will resist normal scratches to a certain level.
Still, this may not endure deep scratches, and continuous sanding may expose the wood beneath, hence damaging the LOOKS and QUALITY of the wood as well.
Overall, a solid wood floor can be a good solution if you have a four-legged friend around your house. Engineered wood can also help, but if you are thinking of a long-term solution, the solid wood floor has the upper hand here.
Both solid wood and engineered wood have their unique advantages and disadvantages. When deciding which one to use for your flooring, it may come to you as a matter of confusion if you have a little knowledge of the wood.
As you have already gone through our detailed discussion on solid wood flooring vs engineered wood flooring, now you know which one covers your back the most.
To quickly wrap up….
So, which of the two has impressed you the most?
Tell us what you think. Which one do you think wins the game – Solid wood or engineered wood?
Comment below and let us know your opinion.
Have a great ‘wooden’ day!