An increasing amount of homeowners are installing or replacing their flooring with wood. So the question is: Which is better-solid hardwoods or engineered hardwoods? Anyone considering hardwood floors should look at the pros and cons of each type of wood flooring and investigate how each is constructed. This will help the homeowner decide whether solid hardwood or the engineered hardwood will best match their needs.
Solid hardwood flooring comes in a variety of woods, including exotic varieties, and can be restored several times, making them a good investment. Homeowners with children and pets appreciate the durability of solid hardwood floors. The life span of hardwoods can exceed fifty years if they are cared for properly.
These floors are made of solid wood planks milled to ¾ inch thickness. They expand or contract with the change in humidity or temperature in the home. A gap to allow for expansion between the floor and the wall resolves this issue, with base molding to hide the gap. The wood thickness allows the floors to be sanded without compromising the structural integrity of the floors.
It is not recommended that solid hardwood flooring be installed in areas that could be damp, like bathrooms, kitchens or basements. If moisture penetrates the wood, mildew, mold and fungi can grow in the wood. This can cause fungal respiratory infections and health problems for allergy sufferers and people with asthma. Some designers will install the thinner 5/16- inch wood planks in basements, however they still advise against putting solid hardwoods in bathrooms and kitchens. This type of hardwood flooring cannot be installed over concrete, because of moisture issues. Plywood subflooring has to be laid down over the concrete first and then the hardwoods on top.
Solid hardwoods are more expensive than engineered wood flooring, however, people who want traditional hardwoods are willing to pay the added costs. Installing solid hardwoods is not a weekend do-it-yourself project and is best left to professional installers. Having the hardwoods installed adds to the cost of the floors.
Engineered hardwood flooring is made up of a decorative top layer that was selected when the flooring was purchased. The layers underneath are composed of less expensive, stronger woods glued together using heat and pressure. The wood is formed into planks with tongue-and-groove construction, the same as solid hardwood.
The eco-friendly advantage goes to the engineered flooring, because only the top layer of the engineered flooring is ornamental wood and the sub-layers are made of raw wood material. This approach allows the wood from each tree to be used in a more resourceful way. In today’s market, though, the majority of wood for hardwood flooring comes from forests that are sustainably harvested so that only a percentage of trees are removed from a forest, leaving the majority of the forest intact. This means that hardwood flooring is also a viable eco-friendly option.
Engineered hardwoods tolerate moisture and can be installed in kitchens, bathrooms and dry basements. The construction allows the flooring to withstand buckling and rippling. Heat and humidity do not cause the wood to expand and they can be installed over concrete or other existing flooring. They can also be installed over radiant floor heating, making the flooring feel warm during cold winter months.
Engineered wood floors can only be refinished a couple of times, making it difficult to repair deep scratches or dents. They are durable during their lifetime, but not as long lasting as solid hardwoods.
Engineering flooring is less expensive than solid hardwood and easier to install. Additionally, the flooring can be purchased in an engineered floating wood variety that requires no adhesive or special tools, making installation even less complicated.
There are many factors involved in deciding which option is best. Consideration needs to be given to all of the listed advantages and disadvantages, including budget, durability, and use of the room that the floors will be installed in.
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Written By: Bob Jenkins
Budget My Build
P.O. Box 72987
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Office: (602) 579-9660
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