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Home / Education / Buying Guide / Engineered vs Solid Hardwood Flooring

Engineered vs Solid Hardwood Flooring

If you are having trouble deciding between an engineered or solid wood product, you are not alone.  It is one of the most commonly misunderstood flooring facts.  This simple and concise explanation will point you in the right direction.

Construction: Defining the Difference Between Engineered and Solid Hardwood
Both engineered and solid wood floors are, in fact, hardwood floors.  Widely misinterpreted, the term "engineered wood" in the flooring industry does not correlate to a laminate floor.  Laminate is a totally different product.  The simple difference between engineered and solid wood flooring lies underneath the surface you see on the top of the plank. 

Solid hardwood is literally constructed of a solid plank of lumber that is milled to a uniform thickness and width.
Engineered hardwood is simply multiple layers of wood veneers with the stained specie of choice on the top with the same protective urethane applied as with the solid counterpart.  The cross-layer construction of the veneers is designed to reduce expansion with dimensional stability. 

Both solid and engineered planks are manufactured with the same tongue and groove type construction along the edges of the plank to enable the interlocking during installation.
Determining the Best Option

Your qualified hardwood installer and your retail salesperson will be able to assist you in deciding between a solid hardwood or an engineered hardwood.  Solid hardwood may be installed on the ground level and upper level(s) of your home.  Without proper use of HVAC or humidity control, solid planks have a tendency to cup or crown in a high humidity environment, causing movement which can result in buckling. 

An engineered hardwood may be installed on all levels of your home, including the basement.  Generally, it is the preferred construction for high humidity climates or areas adjacent to waterfronts.  Engineered construction is a must if you select plank widths wider than 3 or 4 inches in this type of geography. 

Both engineered and solid hardwood are natural products and some expansion and contraction is expected with seasonal changes.  All hardwood must be acclimated to the temperature of your home before installation, at least 24-48 hours, as recommended by the NWFA and stated in manufacturer installation instructions.

It is important to consult with your professional hardwood flooring retailer for guidance on making a hardwood selection that is best suited for the condition of your subfloor and your geographical climate.  Twenty and Oak brands offer many hardwood options in both constructions, in classic and on-trend visuals.

Additional Images Photo Credits: iStock


Twenty & Oak Experts

Twenty & Oak Experts are a team of flooring professionals with over 150 years of combined experience in the industry. They have hands-on experience with all flooring types and bring inside industry know-how to homeowners in the Southeast.

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