Engineered vs Solid Hardwood Flooring

In a world that is full of comparisons of different products and features, you will find that it can pay to compare items to get the best deal for your money.

By comparing apples to apples (or even apples to oranges), you can find the product that will best fit your needs and your budget.Comparison shopping sound like a lot of work?

Related article:  Best Hardwood Flooring

Related article: Best Engineered Hardwood Flooring

The good news is that this process doesn’t even have to take you out of your home, if you wish, because most research can be done in the privacy of your home on your computer. Additionally, many flooring companies and installers, like Lumber Liquidators will send a consultant to your home to discuss options further.

Compare Prices: Engineered vs. Solid

Want to see a great comparison of prices from a hardwood (engineered and solid) with the guaranteed lowest prices? Take a look at Lumber Liquidators for a huge range of engineered and solid wood flooring.

Today, we are doing the initial work for you! We’re taking the guess work out of the engineered vs solid hardwood flooring debate. Check out the following comparison to help you make the right choice if you are considering either one of these flooring options for your home or a room in your home.

The Great Debate: Engineered and Solid Hardwood Floor

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Engineered vs solid hardwood flooring can start many a lively debate among friends, home builders or remodelers and homeowners. There are pros and cons to both, but for the most part, nobody can tell the difference in the look once the floor is installed. Let price, availability, environment and lifestyle issues help guide your choice.

When considering engineered vs solid hardwood flooring, you first want to take a look at the individual features of each so that you have some basis to compare these two types of flooring. Here are the basics of each of these two types of wood flooring.

Pros of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

1. Versatility and Ease of Installation: Unlike solid hardwood flooring, engineered flooring can be installed in any room that you choose, even a basement, because it can withstand moisture due to the layers of material in the flooring that are designed to withstand buckling and rippling. Engineered flooring can also be installed over radiant floor heating, which can keep your feet warm during those cold winter months.

2. Durability and Maintenance: Caring for engineered hardwood flooring is similar to solid hardwoods, as the top layer, the “wear layer,” that will come into contact with the cleaning materials is essentially the same for both. With any hardwoods (engineered or solid), you will want to avoid abrasive or harsh chemicals like ammonia, and avoid using excessive soaking, as hardwood is susceptible to water damage. Never use a steam cleaner on your hardwood floors-engineered or solid!

3. Price: Engineered hardwood looks just as beautiful as solid hardwood flooring at a much better price that will fit almost anyone’s budget. Engineered hardwood floors also easy to install, saving on the cost of installation if you have the desire to do it yourself.

4. Environmentally Friendly: Engineered hardwood flooring is also more environmentally friendly than solid hardwood floors because the sub-surface layers are made from “junk” or “scrap” wood that would traditionally have been unusable, not the ornamental wood. This approach saves more forests because each tree of the hardwood, the oak, maple, bamboo, etc., can go further than it does with traditional solid wood floors. 

Cons of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Because the engineered hardwood floors are made by compressing a lower quality scrap wood for the first few layers of the planks and then using the traditional hardwood layer on the surface, you cannot refinish the floors very many times. Depending on the thickness of the top layer, you may be able to get up to three or four resurfacings from most engineered hardwood floors. So, while it’s not as long lasting as solid wood flooring, many engineered hardwood floors can be refinished. Despite only having a top layer of traditional hardwood, engineered wood flooring is a durable floor during its lifetime.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood flooring comes in many different varieties of wood species, ranging from the traditional choices like maple or oak to more exotic woods, like bamboo. Solid wood floors are slightly more expensive than an engineered wood flooring, but if you are a diehard wood flooring enthusiast, then you may want to stick with a solid hardwood flooring. As the name implies, solid hardwood flooring planks are the traditional style of wood floors where the planks are made entirely from the hardwood, not from any kind of a wood composite or filler.

Pros of Hardwood Flooring

1. Added Value: When selling your home, if you have a home has solid hardwood floors, the listing price automatically jumps up. This is because the traditional choice of hardwood flooring has long been sought after in real estate and, with the rise in engineered hardwoods and laminates, it is becoming less and less common to find solid hardwoods in newer homes, increasing the demand and the value-add.

2. Potential For Refinishing: Because you can refinish a solid wood floor more times than you can an engineered wood floor, this flooring type lasts longer. This also helps balance some of the environmental problems associated with some wood floors, as you may be using a greater proportion of the hardwood in the initial design, but these solid planks will far outlast the “wear layer” of engineered woods.

3. Enduring and Long-Lasting: While solid hardwoods require a hefty amount of maintenance to keep in pristine condition and solid hardwood flooring can be damaged more easily than engineered hardwoods, there is no doubt that these floors can be refinished and repaired time and again. So while they may not be near the top of the list for durability, they still have a lasting staying power that means they can be revitalized time and again throughout the life of the floor.

4. Timeless Beauty: Truthfully, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a high quality engineered wood floor and a solid hardwood floor. However, there is a certain sentimentality and beauty in knowing that a solid hardwood floor will last through the lifetime of the home. If your home is a place you plan to live in for a long time, there is a certain appeal in knowing that the solid hardwood floors in your home today will be the same floors enjoyed by generations to come.

Cons of Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood can’t be installed (or isn’t recommended) in high moisture areas and should be avoided in rooms where water damage is likely, such as the bathroom, basements, or laundry room. Many professionals even recommend to avoid a solid hardwood floor in the kitchen. This is because the higher moisture content in the air — or excessive water on the floor, as from a leak — can cause the wood to ripple or buckle, which will destroy the flooring.

If you have children or pets, then you may want to consider the durability factor of solid hardwood flooring in your decision. Depending on the hardwood used, these floors can be damaged comparatively easily. All solid hardwoods scratch or dent easier than their engineered hardwood counterparts because the wood composite inside an engineered flooring plank is designed to withstand additional wear. However, the “wear layer” of an engineered hardwood floor is comparable to the solid wood counterparts and both will need to be properly maintained with a regular polyurethane or wax sealant in order for them to last.

It was once true that most solid hardwood flooring needed to be professionally installed. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, then this was traditionally a big negative for solid hardwood flooring. However, these days, most hardwood flooring is designed with tongue and groove style planks that can be installed by anyone with a level subfloor. Check out this video to see how to install the tongue-and-grove style planks typical of modern solid or engineered hardwood flooring.

And the Winner of the Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring Debate Is...

…entirely a matter of preference!

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which of these two flooring options is the right choice for you. Deciding between engineered vs solid hardwood flooring is a decision that should be made carefully. In some cases, your budget will be the determining factor, but if at all possible, it is better to let other considerations make your decision for you. Consider the rooms that you will be installing the flooring in, the people who will be walking on and enjoying the floors, and what your dream flooring is to help you determine the winner between engineered vs. solid hardwood flooring in your particular situation. I also strongly recommend that you reach out to several different manufacturers and suppliers to check out their products and do some comparison shopping between all of the options.

Compare Prices: Engineered vs. Solid

Want to see a great comparison of prices from a hardwood (engineered and solid) with the guaranteed lowest prices? Take a look at Lumber Liquidators for a huge range of engineered and solid wood flooring.

84 thoughts on “Engineered vs Solid Hardwood Flooring”

  1. Hi,
    I live in NJ and I am planning to put hardwood floor in my living room which is a high traffic area. I liked exotic wood like Brazilian cherry but I am not sure about its hardness. I saw my friend’s flooring who did the same one but it has a lot of spaces in between two strips.
    If I go for Engineered wood, what would be the best one? 1/2 inch or more?

  2. Do you have any experience with Provenza Antico (hevea wood) vs Carlton (birch) – both engineered wood flooring? I’m trying to choose between the two.
    Also – will hevea or birch wood withstand my furniture (dents, etc)? They both are on the low end of the Janka hardness scale – but they’re engineered wood, so I don’t know if it’s harder because it’s engineered.
    Finally – I was told I had to use engineered because the wood goes on a slab foundation (California). Is that true?

  3. Hi, I’m considering Mohawk’s solid Tigerwood, any experience with this as far has hardness? Will be installing flooring in bedrooms only and do have two small dogs. Concern is softness of wood, or rather concern is for lack of knowledge of softness of wood…will heavy bedroom furniture ruin flooring?

  4. Hi Kids,
    While the overall thickness is a good indicator of how sturdy the flooring will be, it’s also important to consider how thick the top layer of hardwood is. The thicker that top layer is, the better. Engineered floors can be refinished if needed, but obviously not as much as a solid hardwood floor can. The thicker the hardwood layer is when dealing with engineered flooring, the more times it can be refinished. Obviously, the thicker overall the engineered product is, the sturdier the overall floor will be.

  5. Hi Lisa,
    I’m sorry, I don’t have any personal experience with either of those flooring products. Have you tried to google to see if you can find any consumer kudos or complaints? Sites such as might be helpful as well.
    Engineered wood can be harder than hardwood, but only because of the hard, durable finish that’s applied. You can also get a very hard, durable finish with hardwood when you apply a product such as Diamond Coat Varathane Polyurethane too – a product like this helps tremendously.
    Some hardwood flooring products can be floated or glued down as well – it all depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations. If glueing, make sure that the concrete has been sealed – many times the adhesive will actually act as a moisture barrier, like Bostick’s Best adhesives.

  6. Hi Rizan,
    To find out the Janka rating (which you can also google for) on this particular flooring product, I’d recommend looking it up on Mohawk’s site or calling them. Heavy furniture sitting on the flooring is usually not a problem, moving the furniture might be and can be avoided by using moving pads of some sort.

  7. We are about to install a wood floor in our Hall, Lounge and Dining room about 37 square meters. The house is only 12 years old with a good concrete floor and no moisture problems.
    The Choice is between a floating Tarkett Engineered floor (14mm – 4mm Oak, 10 mm ply) with 3mm underlay and a Tuscan Solid wood 18mm floor glued to the concrete. The samples of both look very good and overall costs are similar when including installation, glue underlay etc.
    When the floor has been laid, would there be any noticeable difference in sound and feel between Engineered and Solid flooring?

  8. Hello,
    We live in the Houston area and are shopping for hardwood floors to be installed over concrete; however, the sales folks at the few stores that we have visited are insisting that we install Engineered Wood instead of Solid Wood because of the moisture issue in the area. One installer has suggested that he would glue the hardwood floor over concrete after treating the floor with moisture barrier. But others are saying this would be a disaster after a year or so. We are confused and wanted to know your thoughts. Any help would be appreciated.

  9. Hello,
    Thanks for this outstanding forum. My wife and I live in Tampa, FL. Our base floor is a concrete slab. We want to install hardwood floors in our hallways and bedrooms. Every “expert” we’ve spoken to has given us different suggestions. Our biggest challenge is the Florida humidity. We are leaning towards engineered wood versus solid. One salesperson told us that engineered floors sounds cheap and thereby recommended gluing solid wood floors. The next salesperson told us that because of the humidity in FL, we should use a floating engineered floor. The third salesperson recommended a solid floating floor.
    Would you recommend gluing a solid floor, gluing an engineered floor, floating a solid floor, or floating an engineered floor?
    Thanks in advance.

  10. DS,
    Whew! When I put engineered bamboo flooring in my house I heard the same sorts of debates. My conclusion was that regardless of the choice I needed to let the flooring material completely acclimate to my home and its conditions. It took patience, but I’d already had one flooring choice go bad and I was willing to do it right.
    Engineered flooring is more stable than solid wood. It can’t be refinished as many times, but you may not care about that, especially if you take good care of your floor.
    Floating floors do move with climate changes as humidity and heat go up and down and are easier to install than a glue-down. To avoid gluing the edges of the boards/planks be sure to get a click floor, if possible, so you create one large floor that will shift with the weather.
    Good luck. And enjoy that new floor.

  11. I have read all the pages in this article……and we have to tell the builder tomorrow what floor we want. I see that you say you chose bamboo for your own house. We are trying to choose between bamboo and engineered wood. The dealer says the bamboo doesn’t feel like wood when you walk on feels like vinyl and tennis shoes can stick to it and it scuffs more. My whole decision is based on which is truly the best environemntally PLUS the best buy. Would you discuss bamboo vs. engineered hardwood? Thanks.

  12. MB,
    This article and as well as my article on Engineered or Nonengineered Hardwood Flooring which does discuss the environmental decisions between the two should help you in determining what type of flooring will fit your eco-conscious and your budget.

  13. Please clear up confusion as to cost of engineered hardwood and solid hardwood. You stated that engineered hardwood is “less expensive” than solid hardwood. Chris Smitts at Dramatically-Speed-Up-Your Installation says you “may pay a few more dollars for the engineered hardwood floors”.

  14. Lots of great information. My husband and I live in Texas and we are having engineered wood flooring installed in our home. We have cats and a dog, how does engineered wood flooring stand up to pet accidents? Thanks for the help.

  15. GC,
    Engineered wood floors do stand up to moisture better than hard wood. Pet accidents are hard on any floors, but this would be a good choice. I would be sure to ask the installer if any additional sealer is needed, and let them know your concerns.

  16. I came upon your site looking for comparisons about engineered vs solid hardwood for a friend, and feel compelled to say something. Solid hardwood floors are NOT that difficult to install – my husband and I have installed unfinished oak and hickory (and finished them) and finished bamboo – beautiful. We are about to install finished maple, oak, and more bamboo as well as engineered cork. Also, while I applaud the environmental concerns (why we use bamboo, and no, while it doesn’t sound like true hardwood, it certainly doesn’t sound like vinyl!) – engineered wood, while using ‘scrap’ woods, must require more glues (chemicals) to adhere the layers (increased VOCs) – and many scrap woods may not be sustainably harvested either. We obviously use both, and I have seen plenty of engineered wood that is much more expensive than solid. To be fair. Cheers,Angela


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