Hardwood Flooring Types: Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Floors

Choosing the Right Type of Hardwood Flooring For Your Application

Hardwood Flooring Types—Solid vs. Engineered?

Choosing the right type of hardwood flooring for your home can be a difficult decision. To help you make the best choice for you and your family we’ve put together some information on the pros and cons of particular types of hardwood flooring. Finding the appropriate hardwood flooring will largely depend on how and where it will be installed and how much foot traffic it will see. So before deciding on the type of flooring you want to install in your residence make sure to account for the climate in your area as well as the amount of wear and tear you expect the floor will sustain. For instance, do you have indoor pets? If so, you’ll want to make sure that their nails are clipped and perhaps go with a more durable type of flooring. If you have young children in the home you may also want to pick a type of flooring that is more resistant to stains and scratches. If you’ve narrowed your decision down to hardwood then you should consider the two main types of hardwood floors: solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

This type of flooring is a good choice for homeowners who want a long-lasting product because solid hardwood floors can be stained and refinished as many as ten times and if cared for correctly can last for over 100 years. Rather than diminishing the wood’s beauty, re-finishing, sanding, and general aging can actually work to highlight the product’s natural attributes like color tone and unique grain patterns. Solid wood flooring is milled from natural lumber harvested from various types of trees including: ash, birch, cherry, hickory, maple, and oak. Each type of wood differs in color as well as resistance to wear and tear so homeowners should choose with care. Because it is harvested from natural timber, solid hardwood floors are extremely sensitive to changes in moisture and temperature. For instance, if this type of flooring is installed in a location that experiences high humidity the wood may start “crowning” or curving upward in a convex manner. Conversely, the planks may also take on a “cupped” or “dished” appearance in response to a severe change in weather. This ability to expand and contract based on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere is one of the downsides of this type of flooring and as a result it is not recommended for installation below ground level or in bathrooms. To help protect against this kind of damage, solid hardwood floors require a protective coat or finish that seals the floor against a certain amount of moisture as well as scratches and spills. This process often takes place on-site meaning that the floor is stained and sealed at the location where the product is installed. While this allows a homeowner to have more direct oversight of the “re-finishing” of their product, the process itself involves a considerable amount of sanding and staining. For this reason, finishing a hardwood floor can result in a high volume of sawdust as well as fumes from the stains and sealants used, both of which can make breathing difficult. Once the floor is finished, however, it is remarkably resistant to the collection of dust and other allergens as well as general wear and tear.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Homeowners can also choose to have engineered hardwood flooring installed. This type of flooring looks and feels the same as natural hardwood, but doesn’t require as much maintenance. Engineered hardwood flooring is made up of anywhere from three to ten layers of different materials, not all of which are natural wood. The top layer itself is, however, comprised of natural wood which is supported by an inner core of high density fiberboard and further layers of hardwood. These sub-layers can be of the same or different types of wood although the grains of each layer must run in different directions, ultimately working to make the product more stable. Due to the materials and method used in producing engineered hardwood, this type of flooring does not have the same issues of expanding and contracting that are part and parcel of solid hardwood flooring. Because it is so resistant to humidity and moisture, engineered hardwood flooring is a good option for bathrooms and finished basements. Engineered wood is also usually pre-finished before arriving at the site of installation so homeowners don’t have to deal with the sawdust and fumes involved with the installation of regular solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood is relatively easy to install on any type of subfloor and as a result is a more “DIY” friendly project. Although this type of flooring is ideal for homeowners looking for a stable wood floor in both damp and dry locations, keep in mind that it is also less durable than solid hardwood. Unlike solid wood which can be refinished numerous times, engineered wood can only be refinished once or twice before needing to be replaced.

Our experts are available to help you choose the right hardwood flooring type for your home or business. Call or visit our Wichita flooring showroom.

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