Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood

Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood

14 June, 2012 | 18:44 |

CosLoc Floating Engineered FlooringWood continues to be one of the most preferred choices for floor coverings, and the number of wood-like flooring materials on the market is overwhelming. When it comes to real wood flooring, there are 2 main options: solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. It is often assumed that choosing between these two types of floors is a matter of personal preference, and in many case this may be true, but let’s compare solid and engineered hardwood flooring in order to better understand their pros and cons.


Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood

1. Manufacturing Technique:

Solid hardwood is manufactured from a single piece of wood, the most common thickness of a solid hardwood plank is ¾”. The most widely used profile is tongue-and-groove (T&G).

Engineered hardwood consists of 2 or more layers. The top layer is wood veneer (industry norm is 2-4mm think top layer; Coswick uses only solid sawn 4mm wood lamellas for top layer). The lower layers consist either of several layers of plywood, HDF or solid wood (Coswick has 2 types of engineered flooring, with plywood and solid wood base layers). Multiple layers are bonded together under pressure. Profile may be either tongue-and-groove, or use a click-locking technology.

2. Properties:

Solid hardwood flooring is a 100% natural product that responds to air humidity variations. In order to avoid seasonal gapping from becoming noticeable and to reduce the amount of movement, relative indoor humidity level should be kept at 45-55% throughout the year.

Engineered hardwood has minimal movement and maintains superb dimensional stability through seasonal humidity fluctuations. In order to avoid seasonal gapping from becoming noticeable and to reduce the amount of movement, relative indoor humidity level should be kept at 40-65% throughout the year.

3. Dimensional stability:

Solid hardwood is a 100% natural product that responds to air humidity variations. During warm and humid summers, it is not unusual for wood to expand. During cold and dry winters, wood can contract. If room temperature and humidity levels are not kept in the optimum range, minor gapping or cupping may occur seasonally.

Because of the cross-layers of plywood and/or real wood used for middle and bottom layers, engineered hardwood flooring has enhanced internal balance and reduced possibility of twisting or warping. Seasonal movement is minimal, while dimensional stability through seasonal humidity and temperature fluctuations is superb. This is why engineered hardwood flooring is preferable over solid in interiors where fluctuations in humidity and temperature may be significant (cottages, basements etc).

4. Durability:

Both solid and engineered hardwood floors are very durable, but surface wear depends on the type of flooring finish, and not on whether your flooring is solid or engineered.

5. Price:

Some may assume that engineered hardwood is naturally cheaper than solid hardwood, but this is not always the case. Plank size, cost of lumber, as well as cost and quality of glues (used for adhering layers of engineered flooring) are often the cost determining factor here. Additionally, the cost of installation varies and depends on plank construction (click engineered floors, such CosLoc 5G for instance, can be installed using floating method, which significantly reduces installation costs).

6. Look and design:

One of the most prevalent beliefs about solid hardwood vs. engineered hardwood is that in order to get the look and feel of real wood, one must go with solid. Most engineered floors (and all of Coswick engineered flooring) use solid sawn wood lamellas, which means that the top layer is made of real wood, and have the look, texture and feel of solid wood floors. Both solid and engineered floors are available in the same range of finishes and stains, so there is virtually no difference in appearance.

Keep in mind that all prefinished engineered floors have a microbevel on all four sides, while site-finished solid hardwood does not.

7. Plank width:

Because solid hardwood is more sensitive to moisture and humidity fluctuations, the optimum plank width for solid wood flooring shouldn’t generally exceed 4 ¼”-5”, depending on the finish type.

In engineered hardwood, superb dimensional stability and resistance to humidity and temperature fluctuations allow for a much wider plank. Depending on construction type, Coswick engineered flooring is manufactured up to 7 ½” wide.

8. Installation:

Solid hardwood should be installed on or above grade, using nail down or staple down installation method.

Engineered hardwood can be installed in a wide range of interiors, on, below or above grade. Depending on construction type, nail down, glue down or floating methods of installation may be used. “Floating” is a simple DIY procedure that requires no special training and thus significantly reduces installation costs.

9. Eco- Friendliness:

100% wood, solid hardwood floors are a natural and eco-friendly flooring choice.

In engineered hardwood flooring, glues and materials used for middle and bottom layers define whether the floor is non-toxic and eco-friendly. Engineered floors, in which middle and bottom layers are made of solid wood, and are bonded by high quality non-toxic glues, are equal in their eco-friendly characteristics to solid hardwood.

Because the look and feel of solid vs engineered hardwood is virtually the same, the decision on which one to purchase and install should not be a matter personal preference, but rather a question of cost, climactic factors and other practical considerations.

Coswick manufactures solid and engineered hardwood floors in over 70 colors, styles and surface finishes. All Coswick floors are 100% formaldehyde-free and come under lifetime structural warranty. Order samples of solid and engineered Coswick floors and have them delivered to your door free of charge.


Coswick Solid Hardwood Floors: solid and engineered hardwood flooring
3615 Laird Road Unit 9 MississaugaONL5L5Z8 Canada 

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Comments on "Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood": 7

  1. Sonia says:

    Naturally the flatter the subfloor is the better. When installing wood flooring over a plywood subfloor, make sure the joints of the plywood are the same height and well secured. Walk along the whole sublfoor to see if there is any bounce or squeaks within the whole floo. If there are, secure the plywood to the joists using 2-1/2 inch long deck screws (not drywall screws). 3/4 inch thick tongue and groove flooring will actually stiffen and add strength to any floor system as long as it is nailed or stapled every 6-8 inches along the tongue of the boards when its being installed. I do not recommend direct gluing and stapling any 3/4 solid wood flooring down as the adhesive can restrict the natural movement of the new flooring which could cause the wood flooring to distort. Just nail or staple as described above. I would also use a 15 lb black felt paper as an underlayment paper overlapping the seams 4-6 inches. Which will also help elevate any squeaking and create a moisture retarder.

  2. Chris says:

    I was wondering how flat a 5/8 tongue and groove subfloor needs to be to prevent 3/4 x 5 wide solid hardwood flooring from squeaking. I am planning on screwing the subfloor to the floor joists and gluing and nailing the hardwood to the subfloor. When I removed the old carpet and 3/8 particle board from the existing floor, I found the plywood subfloor to be very dirty and had to sand it to remove the dirt, so the glue would hold. The subfloor is fairly smooth but I am sure there are areas where it may be plus or minus 1/16 over an 18 span. Will 3/4 thick x 5 wide black walnut conform to some waviness? I will likely put some leveling compound over the plywood joints as I had to recess the nails for sanding.Thanks

  3. Andrea says:

    Yes, I know it’s work to remove and reinstall baseboard, but unless you have an older house with real wide baseboard it will look funny if you don’t remove it, remember if you have 3 in. base and you don’t remove it you will cover 3/4 in.for the floor and 3/4 in. or so for? the quarter round, that don’t leave much base to see? There is no law on how much baseboard you need, it’s just what ever you think looks best. Thanks

  4. Solid hardwood flooring is used from a single piece of wood which is then split into various slabs (longitudinal) to fit into each other at the tongues and grooves. Engineered hardwood flooring has a specific manufacturing practice where several wood pieces are formed into layers, each one known as ‘ply’, and these plies are placed in a cross grain pattern and bonded together using heat and pressure.

  5. Solid hardwood flooring can last for several generations. As a matter of fact, more than 50 years can be an easy task for solid hardwood flooring. Sanding, refinishing or re-coating the surface once every 20 years can be good enough to maintain solid hardwood flooring while engineered hardwood flooring can also last for a long time and they are equally easy to maintain. They are resistive to scratches or quick wear and tear, however they do not possess the quality of getting their appearance enhanced as the wood has been made into plies rather than being used as a block.

  6. Leona says:

    Questions: What does “microbevel” mean? What is “floating” installation?

  7. [...] Coswick – Even more information on the differences between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood [...]

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