Choosing the hardwood for your home will be one of the first decisions you make. But before you decide among the various colours, species and finishes available, you will be faced with a foundational choice: traditional solid hardwood or engineered hardwood. While many people assume that solid hardwood is the default choice, engineered hardwood offers benefits that make it a competitive alternative. It is important to consider the differences between them in order to ensure that you are choosing the most functional hardwood for your lifestyle.
Does Engineered VS Solid Change Where Hardwood Can be Installed?
While every home can be tailored to the specific needs and wants of the homeowner, today’s trends typically have hardwood running throughout the majority of the main floor. You’re likely to see hardwood in the foyer, powder room, great room, dining room and pantry — and yes, even the kitchen. Both engineered and solid hardwood can work well and look great in all those applications. One room you typically won’t see hardwood in — regardless of whether it’s engineered or solid — is the washroom. The moisture in bathrooms can damage it.
Knowing that both types of hardwood can work in the same applications, what other factors should homeowners consider when making this decision?
Solid Hardwood: Traditional Quality
When considering what kind of hardwood to put into a home, many homeowners assume that solid hardwood is the best way to go, when in fact there is another more functional option: engineered hardwood.
Solid hardwood conjures nostalgia and has the reputation of being the highest quality. It is made uniformly: like the name implies, each plank is one solid piece of hardwood throughout. However, solid hardwood planks are capped at 3 ¼ inches. With recent housing trends showing homeowners leaning towards wider plank styles, solid hardwood can’t always achieve the desired look. Luckily, there is engineered hardwood to provide those wide, beautiful planks.
Engineered Hardwood: It’s Real
Contrary to popular assumption, engineered hardwood is not laminate or vinyl. Its top layer — and the other layers within — are still real hardwood. The multi-layer gradient is entirely composed of real hardwood. Why is it layered? This mixed formation allows engineered hardwood planks to be more than twice as wide as solid hardwood (a seven-inch board, for instance, is not uncommon). And it has other advantages too.
Which is Better?
While many people who have lived with solid hardwood in the past assume that it is the best option for the home, there are drawbacks to solid hardwood that engineered hardwood can resolve.
The primary drawback to solid hardwood is its vulnerability to humidity and dryness. When the weather is particularly humid, solid hardwood planks tend to expand. This can cause the deformation of the plank shape as well as cause the joint holding it in place to buckle. Likewise, cooler temperatures can cause solid hardwood to contract, resulting in gaps in the flooring between boards.These problematic responses to the weather can be particularly harrowing in Alberta, where the weather fluctuates drastically.
One of the biggest advantages of engineered hardwood is that it is not susceptible to weather deformation. By design, the multiple layers lay the grains in different directions (like a grid), creates a more stable product that does not change with the temperature of the air. With engineered hardwood, you do not have to worry about the quality of the flooring changing over time, or according to the seasons.
Engineered Hardwood: The Way of the Future
Choosing hardwood is largely based on a homeowner’s perception of quality. While traditional assumptions have led people to believe that solid hardwood is the highest quality option, engineered hardwood is a competitive, beneficial alternative. Engineered hardwood has proven to be a stable and reliable choice that’s just as good (if not better) than solid hardwood.