How is Solid Hardwood & Engineered Wood Flooring Different?
Hardwood is one of the most popular flooring options. It’s also one of the most luxurious and long-lasting. Traditionally, ¾-inch thick, tongue and groove solid hardwood flooring in various wood species has been the go-to option. The only caveat has been the price of the material and installation.
Today, engineered hardwood flooring is an excellent alternative that can be more cost-effective. This type of wood flooring is pre-finished at the factory with scientifically developed aluminum oxide finishes that can be just as resistant to wear and tear as other types of wood. And in many cases, the finish itself is even tougher than the finish applied to solid hardwood flooring after installation.
Why the Dallas, Texas Area Chooses Hardwood
Solid and engineered wood flooring provides a unique combination of high quality, high performance, and value. Pride of ownership runs high in this part of the country, and you can see it reflected in the choices people make when it comes to home upgrades.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has four seasons, and the climate is humid subtropical with hot summers. A wide annual temperature range also characterizes it, and precipitation varies considerably, ranging from 20 to 50 inches. During the winter, short but intense cold periods frequently occur, although, generally, the winters are mild. Snowfall is rare, but we get hail 2 to 3 times yearly. Hardwood flooring is one of the best choices you can make regarding the wide spectrum of weather we can get.
Construction Differences Between Solid Hardwood and Engineered Wood
As the name suggests, solid hardwood flooring is milled from a solid piece of hardwood. Unfinished planks can vary in length and are usually staggered during installation. Some of the most popular wood species include red oak, white oak, walnut, maple, and cherry. Each species has its grain pattern and color variations. During installation, homeowners can choose from various stains to achieve the desired shade. Solid hardwood planks are also available in different widths.
Engineered hardwood flooring is constructed using a thin layer of hardwood bonded to a tough and stable plywood core. The top layers of hardwood and the plywood bases are available in different thicknesses. The finished thickness of engineered hardwood is available in 9/16 to ¾ of an inch.
Once bonded at the factory, engineered hardwood planks are textured, stained, and finished before shipping. Different layers of highly durable and water-resistant chemicals are applied during the finishing stage and then cured with Ultra Violet (UV) Light. This results in an ultra-tough ability to withstand everyday wear and tear in living and laundry rooms.
A Special Note On Textures
Traditionally, solid hardwood flooring is sanded smooth after installation and then finished. Some wood species, like red oak, have what’s known as an open grain, and even when sanded smooth, this appearance of texture can appear on a finished floor. Many people prefer this texture. Over time, normal wear and tear will appear on the solid wood floor, especially with the hardwood species that score lower on the Janka Hardness Scale. Some people enjoy this wear and believe it adds “character” to the flooring. Some have the floor re-sanded and finished.
Often, those who prefer the “distressed look” for their flooring choose engineered hardwood instead. Engineered hardwood can be marred, dented, left with saw marks at the factory, and finished with ultra-tough aluminum oxide. There is tremendous variety in “distressed looks” with engineered hardwoods, regardless of the wood species selected for the top layer.
Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Wood Durability
It’s not unusual to find solid hardwood floors that have lasted 100 years or more in some well-preserved homes. Even when marred, scratched, or dented, ¾-inch solid hardwood can be sanded smooth again and refinished many times. A re-sand and refinish can be quite involved, but it gives many people the peace of mind that their floor will last a very, very long time.
When it comes to engineered flooring, refinishing is generally not recommended. The top layer of hardwood is so thin sanding may expose the plywood core. Although it is possible to refinish some types of engineered flooring, it’s quite a delicate and complicated process that most tradesmen will avoid. On the other hand, the ultra-tough finishes applied at the factory are generally much harder than the type of finishes applied on-site for solid wood flooring. This means the flooring is less likely to show wear and tear, thus reducing the need to refinish.
Different Methods of Installation
Both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring can be purchased by the square foot. This is helpful when it comes time to compare the cost of materials. Once delivered to the site, both types of flooring must be placed in the specific location in which they will be installed in order for them to acclimate. This can take three days or more, depending on the time of year. We have quite a bit of humidity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the wood flooring needs time to equalize to the ambient humidity levels present in the home.
For the DIYer
If you’re brave enough and experienced enough, you may want to try installing a solid wood floor, but please resist the temptation. Solid hardwood planks can be tricky to install, especially over a concrete slab. The refinishing process may seem simple, but it also requires a high level of experience to produce a good result.
If you’re determined to DIY, try engineered hardwood flooring instead. If it’s a small room like a closet or a laundry room, and you have plenty of experience, it might be worth a try. Again, we recommend using a professional installer if you’re putting in a floating floor of engineered hardwood.
The Most Important Step
Find a local flooring expert with many years of experience to help you choose and install your flooring. It can take quite of bit of research to learn about all your options, so you might want to try our Shop At Home Service. You can have one of our flooring experts come to your home and show you all the options, and what they will look like in the actual area you’re thinking about. We’d be happy to answer all your questions and, of course, take all the confusion away when measuring. Give us a call today.