Solid vs Engineered Flooring

By: Debbie George

March 28, 2016


So you decided to choose hardwood flooring. Now the question, solid or engineered? The answer is simple. It’s your choice. Alright, before you tell yourself, thanks for nothing, let’s examine the differences between the two. 

Solid Flooring.  

A solid floor is milled in our manufacturing facility from a single piece of hardwood to usually about ¾” thickness, thus it is called a solid piece of floor. This type of wood does well in moisture controlled settings. However, when installed it is best to leave space for the floor to expand and contract based on seasonal moisture changes and is recommended for rooms at ground level or above. If you choose a solid wood floor, your indoor humidity needs to be 40-55% throughout the year. WoodCo offers a tongue and groove pattern and recommends using a nail down or staple down installation method. Solid wood floors have to be installed over a wooden sub-floor. Generally this is either a layer of ¾” waterproof plywood or (if you want to recreate a traditional hollow sounding floor) install wooden screeds. The overall thickness of the floor and sub-floor will be between 1 ½” and 2 ¼” depending on the method used. A plus about solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished several times throughout its service life.

Engineered Flooring.

Alright, you know now solid wood flooring is made of a solid piece of wood. Engineered flooring is actually just the way it sounds as well. Engineered wood starts with a solid piece of wood, then a wear layer is constructed (the wear layer is the top solid wood layer of the floor.) This top layer can vary in thickness from 1/32” up to ¼”, this is especially important when buying a floor. The thicker the wear layer, the better for a longer floor life. The layer is then glued to top quality Baltic Birch Plywood. This plywood is made from 1.5 mm thick veneers of Birch wood and is glued together using a waterproof exterior grade glue. The multiple layers of plywood are stacked in a cross-grain configuration or “engineering”. This is a stable floor which minimizes the expanding and shrinking you would have otherwise in a solid wood floor. This type of flooring can be sanded and refinished, but depending on the thickness of your wear layer, you may have a limited range. Engineered flooring can be glued directly to the slab or nailed over a sub-floor and can be installed below, on or above ground level.  

I know you’re probably thinking now, how about the durability and look of each floor? 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. Because both woods have a real wood layer at the top, you will get the same look, texture, feel and sound if you choose either solid or engineered.

Still not sure what to choose? Let’s answer these questions.

Where are you putting in your new floor? I.e. In the basement, ground level or upstairs. Remember, engineered can fit anywhere, solid has to be on or above ground level.

If remodeling, what type of application was your previous floor, are you replacing carpet or an old floor? Naturally, if you’re replacing an old solid wood floor you can choose solid or engineered. If you previously had carpet, once you pull out the carpet the slab will be even with the other rooms. Therefore, an engineered floor would be ideal since once installed it will be at the same level as the next room.

Do you have a dropped slab for the wood floor? A dropped slab is when a portion of your home is lower than the other room levels enabling you to install a plywood sub-floor plus solid wood flooring. If you don’t have a dropped slab, then I would recommend leaning more towards an engineered floor to not have uneven floors between rooms.

I do encourage you to browse our website and see the different types of floors we have available. With so many options at WoodCo, one is sure to please your eye! If you have any questions contact us today!