Solid Hardwood vs Engineered Hardwood

Today’s topic of conversation - Solid versus Engineered Hardwood Flooring!


Now, I've said it before - there's lots of questions, but when we start to talk about solid and engineered wood, there's not only lots of questions there's lots of misinformation out there!


First of all – not all engineered are created equal.  The three main lines of hardwood that we carry – Mirage, Lauzon and Vintage – all have very thick layers of wood on the surface.  The thickness of the surface layer of wood is important for two reasons.  First reason is that it is a dry-sawn layer.  Dry sawn means that it is milled just like solid wood.  Gives you the same look and doesn’t add any stress into the wood.  The two other ways to mill the engineered layer are rotary peeled and sliced.  Both add stress as the wood is pushed aside by knives, and usually soaked in some kind of chemical solution that allows this process to occur with little waste.  As the grain is pushed and pulled into the flat layer, when these floors get the outside stress of expansion and contraction (caused by humidity changes in air) they have a tendency to crack or check.  Dry sawn does not have this issue.  The second reason is that it is refinishable.  There is enough meat to actually refinish the floor.  So, the floor (just like the solid) is a forever product.


That aside, let’s discuss solid vs engineered hardwood flooring.


Solid Hardwood Flooring is just that – solid.  It is a solid piece of hardwood, cut from trees, dried in a kiln, and then has finish applied.  Usually ¾” thick – it will last for years and years with some maintenance and refinishing along the way.


Engineered Wood on the other hand is different.  It has a layer of solid wood on top of a plywood or other type of core.  The reason for this is stability.  All wood will expand and contract with changes in moisture.  As the air gets dryer in winter, the boards all shrink – and then when summer comes along, they expand back.  Solid wood has nothing to stop it from moving, while with engineered – the base or core of the product – is more stable than the wood.  This limits the amount of movement that the floor can do.


This stability allows us to go to wider planks than we can with Solid Wood.  With solid wood, the widest that we feel comfortable with in our Southern Saskatchewan climate is 3-1/4” wide.  The widest that we currently have in engineered is 7-3/4” wide.  Also, with a quality engineered wood, even when it’s really dry the boards don’t actually gap.  The wood on the surface tries to shrink, but the core holds it in place.  If it gets very dry, the boards can cup, but they won’t gap like a solid wood will.


The other benefit of engineered is that with the fact that it’s a thin layer of wood, we can use different species that are maybe more unstable or expensive.  The core will hold the unstable wood together as to not cause any problems, and the thinness of the wood allows the same piece of something exotic to go much further and will allow us to keep the prices down.


There you go – the main difference between engineered and solid wood flooring.  Now what isn’t a difference is durability!  As they both have wood on the surface, they are both as susceptible to denting.  Drop something onto an engineered or solid flooring – they will both dent the same.  Same thing as the finish, as they both are finished the same, they will both scratch just as easy.  The difference is stability, not durability.


To see any samples, please don’t hesitate to come in to our showroom at 1260 McDonald to see!


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