What’s the difference between normal hardwood floors and engineered hardwood floors? As it turns out, there’s not much of a difference at all.
Engineered wood flooring is made differently and acts a bit differently too, but these two types of floors are almost interchangeable.
So how do you know what kind of flooring is better for your house? Take a look at this engineered hardwood floor guide to find out if it is the right floor for you.
What is Engineered Hardwood Floor?
Engineered hardwood floor is made of wood, but not the same type of wood normal wood floor is made of. But to better understand the difference, you have to look at both types of hardwood flooring.
How Is Normal Hardwood Floor Made?
Traditional hardwood floors are made straight from a tree. There is nothing else involved. The tree is turned into planks of wood that are turned into flooring and sent to your house.
How Is Engineered Hardwood Floor Made?
Engineered flooring has a few different layers.
The top layer is made of hardwood veneer, or a thin slice of normal wood you get from a tree. This is the same wood used for other wood floors, but it’s just a thin slice, sometimes as small as 1/8 of an inch.
The other layers are made of things like plywood, hardwood, or high-density fibreboard. These inner layers make the flooring much more durable than normal hardwood floors, but the top layer makes engineered flooring look just as beautiful.
Differences Between Engineered and Normal Flooring
These two types of flooring are very similar but there are some slight differences.
For example, normal hardwood floor is usually 3/4 of an inch thick. Engineered flooring can be anywhere from 3/8 to 1/2 of an inch thick.
Normal wood floors also have a much wider range of wood to choose from. You can get woods like white oak, pine, and maple. Any wood, from softwoods to hardwoods are available to you.
Engineered wood floors are most commonly made from hard hardwoods. That means you have fewer choices. Woods like red oak, hickory, and Brazilian Cherry are some of the most popular options.
It’s also harder to find engineered wood manufacturers that offer site-finished flooring. Most engineered wood flooring is pre-finished (meaning the manufacturer added the finish before installing it), but some companies may provide site-finished flooring.
Which Type of Floor Is Better?
When manufacturers first started making engineered flooring, the answer was easily normal hardwood floor. But now there isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question.
Engineered wood flooring takes a large part of the market, and most people can’t tell the two types of flooring apart. Even some experts can mistake the engineered wood for traditional wood floorboards.
It all comes down to where and how you want to use wood flooring. Though no type of floor is better than the other, engineered flooring could be better for you and your home.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of engineered hardwood flooring.
Advantages of an Engineered Hardwood Floor
Choosing engineered wood flooring for your house can make a lot of things a lot easier. Here’s a short list of some of those things.
Engineered wood comes with a lot more installation methods than normal hardwood floors. You can nail and staple engineered floor like normal, but you can also click or glue it into place.
Some manufacturers design the flooring with advanced tongue and groove systems that make them easy to put together. Even enthusiastic DIYers can do this type of installation, also called a floating floor.
Good Resale Value
Engineered flooring is still made of real wood, so you can advertise it as such. It looks just as nice as normal wood flooring, and most people can’t tell the difference anyway.
Engineered wood flooring adds roughly the same amount of value to your house as normal wood floors.
Moisture can still be a big problem for this kind of floor, so that doesn’t mean you should install it in your toilet, basement, or kitchen.
But engineered wood does reduce the moisture problems common to wood flooring. The many layers block most of the moisture from absorbing into the wood, which means your floor won’t swell, warp, or curl.
Engineered wood floor only uses a thin slice of real, tree wood. The way it’s made also doesn’t create sawdust.
Sawdust may not seem like much, but it gathers up quick and accounts for a lot of wasted wood.
Disadvantages of Engineered Hardwood Floor
There really aren’t very many of these. If you take care of your floor, you won’t have to worry about many of these issues.
Not as Durable
The top layer of real wood is pretty thin, so it is easier to scratch and dent. However, if you aren’t putting more than a normal amount of stress on the floor, you probably won’t experience any problems like this.
You can sand engineered hardwood flooring to remove surface scratches and chips, but because the top layer is so thin, you can only do this a few times.
If you sand too much, the top layer will rub off completely.
Watch Out for Cheap Engineered Flooring
Engineered flooring made with high-quality wood is a good choice.
But some manufacturers use things like fibreboard or oriented strand board as the inner layers of the floor. This can seriously impact the durability and stability of the floor, and you’ll end up with a poorly made product.
Other times the veneers, or top layers, are too thin. This can prevent any sanding at all, which can cut the life of your floor in half.
Stay away from engineered wood that’s priced too low, as this probably means you’re getting a bad product. As a general rule, engineered wood flooring should cost between $8 to $12 per square foot.
Buying Engineered Hardwood Flooring
This type of flooring isn’t a bad choice by any means. The thing that makes it right or wrong for your home is simply your opinion. Engineered wood flooring requires less maintenance from you, so it can make your life a little less stressful if you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands.