OK, so you’ve decided that hardwood flooring is right for your home in the greater Overland Park, Olathe, Leawood area. Congratulations, you’ve chosen one of the best flooring materials on the market today! Before you start thinking about what kind of wood you prefer, how it should be stained and finished, and what plank width to go with, consider whether solid or engineered hardwood is right for you. Don’t know the difference? Read on!
Solid & Engineered Hardwood: The Basics
For most of the history of hardwood flooring, planks have been solid. That is, they have been cut from single pieces of wood. More recently, engineered hardwood has made a huge impact on the wood flooring market. Engineered hardwood is a layered, laminated product that has a solid hardwood top layer (“veneer”) created from many of the same species you will find in solid plank form. The difference with engineered hardwood is that underneath that top layer there are layers of plywood. This may seem at first to result in an inferior product, but engineered hardwood actually has unique, desirable properties. We’ll say more about them below.
The Upsides and Downsides of Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood is an excellent flooring material for a number of reasons. We are all familiar with its richness, elegance, and beauty. There really is almost no décor that it doesn’t integrate into very well. Another major benefit of solid hardwood flooring is its durability and longevity. Solid wood can stand up to years of use and abuse, and if damage should occur it can be sanded and refinished a number of times. The thicker the planks, the more times this process can be repeated. Well cared-for examples of solid hardwood flooring have been known to last over 100 years.
On the other hand, solid hardwood flooring does have its drawbacks. One is the cost. Solid hardwood flooring tends to be one of the more expensive flooring options. You are really making a long-term investment in your home when you install a hardwood floor, but the upfront cost can be prohibitive.
The other issue with solid hardwood flooring is that it is susceptible to moisture damage. Since wood is a porous material, it will absorb moisture and then release it back into the air. When this occurs, solid hardwood is prone to splitting, warping, and cupping, which will affect the beauty and functioning of your floor. For this reason, solid hardwood is not a good flooring choice for rooms with high moisture levels, such as bathrooms, and it should never be installed in rooms that are below ground.
The Upsides and Downsides of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring was designed, in part, to address the shortcomings of solid hardwood planks. For one thing, engineered hardwood flooring is generally more affordable than solid hardwood. This depends on a number of factors, including the species of wood selected and the quality of the planks (which is correlated with the thickness of their hardwood veneer), but you will usually save some money if you go with engineered hardwood.
The other major upside of engineered hardwood is its dimensional stability. This is a fancy way of saying that it is more resistant to the splitting, warping, and cupping that solid hardwood may experience. The reason engineered hardwood is more moisture resistant is that its different layers are arranged so that their grain patterns are perpendicular to one another. This doesn’t make engineered hardwood flooring a completely moisture-proof material, but it does enable it to hold up better to changes in moisture levels. So, if you are set on having hardwood flooring in rooms like your kitchen, or especially in a basement room, engineered hardwood is going to be your best option.
The downside of engineered hardwood is that it cannot be sanded and refinished as many times as solid hardwood. To put that another way, its lifespan is potentially a bit shorter. This is due to the limited thickness of the hardwood veneer. Of course, the thicker the top layer the more times it can be refinished, but solid hardwood flooring will always have the edge on this criterion. Still, engineered hardwood flooring should easily last between 40 and 80 years with basic care and maintenance. Like solid hardwood, it makes for a great investment in your home.
Ask a Design Expert
If you need more information to make your choice, or if you need someone to take a look at your space and make an informed judgment, be sure to get in touch with us at Floor Coverings International KC South. We’ll be sure to guide you toward the best options for your unique needs during your free, no-obligation design consultation.
Photo Credit: Slavolijub Pantelic