Solid Hardwood versus Engineered Flooring

One of the beautiful aspects of modern flooring is that you can get an authentic single material or an excellent manufactured imitation of it. That’s where engineering flooring comes in. Laminate and engineered hardwood are available in addition to solid as hardwood flooring options because they boast wood in the material. It’s the manufacturing process that differentiates them. But since engineered resembles solid hardwood the most, it’s particularly tough to decide between them. Here are the pros and cons of each, so you’ll know what to expect if you choose either of them:

engineered vs hardwood flooring

Appearance

Looks-wise, solid hardwood and engineered flooring are very similar to each other. Only the well-trained eye can tell them apart by looking closely at the grain patterns and feeling the texture.

Another point to consider is the selection of colours and textures. If you want to match the flooring elsewhere in your house, you’ll have much better luck with solid hardwood. Even if it’s a different wood species, you can match the height and colour with a little professional help. Engineered flooring is limited in how many hardwood and pattern designs it can imitate since creating it is a more time-consuming process. It cannot replicate the unique tones and grains of hardwood which can vary even within the same species.

Manufacturing

As is evident from the name, solid hardwood planks are only natural wood throughout in whole pieces. There come in different cuts which show unique grain patterns: plain-sawn, rift-sawn, quarter-sawn and live-sawn.

Engineered flooring has plywood, fiberboard or hardwood in a middle layer surrounded by a bottom layer of hardwood and a top layer of hardwood or hardwood veneer. It can have up to nine layers and works on wood and concrete subfloors equally well. The layers are greatly compacted to create flooring that is much denser than solid hardwood, though the wood species may differ from the top layer.

Installation

Hardwood planks must be nailed or glued down to wood or plywood subfloors. They don’t work well on concrete unless they are at ground level or above ground level, so you don’t often find them in basements, bathrooms or laundry rooms.

Engineered flooring can adapt as a floating floor, meaning it doesn’t have to be nailed or glued down, but it can also be installed using stapling and fold-and-lock methods. It works well with any subfloor and is common in kitchens. However, since it’s lighter than solid hardwood, it can sound more hollow, and you can remedy this by stapling down the planks instead of floating them.

A concrete subfloor would require glueing down, while a wooden subfloor can accept glueing or nailing. When you adhere the flooring planks to the subfloor instead of floating them, they will not affect each other with any heat or water expansion as much. It’s common for people with either flooring option to use felt paper as an underlayment for ease of installation or to sandwich over the subfloor.

Wear

You might be wondering: Why does engineered flooring have so many layers? They make the flooring denser and more durable and water-resistant to the point of being waterproof. Engineered flooring does not warp and flex upon contact with moisture like solid hardwood flooring does. While it accepts stains, it cannot usually be refinished as much as solid hardwood due to its thin layer of actual hardwood over plywood. That means after a few times of refinishing, it must be replaced. The exceptions are some engineered floors that have a thick wear layer, especially hand-scraped, so it depends on the quality of the flooring you choose and what you want to achieve. There are also different finishes that affect surface wear.

The durability of solid hardwood comes from its heavyweight. You can alter the appearance of solid hardwood flooring with texture and wash treatments to create a distressed look, lighten or darken the colour. It accepts paints, stains and varnishes with ease and can be resanded and refinished several times for many years.

Ease of repair

Both types of flooring resist spills fairly well. Although solid hardwood flooring is more susceptible to dents and moisture damage from lingering water or pet stains, a professional can simply match the plank and then sand and refinish the whole floor. Some DIY homeowners enjoy replacing damaged planks themselves.

If you have engineered flooring planks and they are on a floating floor, you will have to take out some of the other planks to get to the damaged area. Glued-down planks mean a messy and time-consuming job of removing pieces and scraping away adhesive, whereas nailed-down planks simply need prying off. Replacing a damaged plank requires you to have the manufacturer match it since it’s tricky to stain-match it yourself.

Cost

Solid hardwood flooring costs more to purchase than engineered flooring. The cost of engineered flooring depends on the plank thickness, number of wood veneer layers, and wood species. Installation of engineered flooring is cheaper due to its lighter weight and versatility in installation. At the same time, though, hardwood flooring has more options for plank widths, finishes, and decorative trim.

To learn more about our flooring options or to request an estimate, contact us.

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring is attractive, low-cost, and eco-friendly. It is the newest type of flooring available which combines the best qualities of hardwood and then some. The fact that it is natural and sustainable makes it appealing for eco-conscious homeowners, while its affordability appeals to people on a budget. Here are 4 things you didn’t know about the latest popular flooring choice.

bamboo floors

It’s the world’s hardest floor

How? Looks can be deceiving. The simple bamboo plant grows quickly, but fast growth doesn’t tell us why bamboo flooring is so durable — just look at hardwood trees, which can take up to 100 years to fully mature. Because of its structure of cellulose and lignin in a dense outer layer and multiple segments, bamboo has a greater strength by weight than steel as well as greater tensile strength. Cellulose is plant fibre and lignin is a complex polymer. Both are insoluble and rigid, but lignin is more difficult to decompose than cellulose. The best species for building are Guadua Angustifolia (Guadua Bamboo) and Phyllostachys Edulis (Moso Bamboo).

There are different manufacturing methods

Not all bamboo flooring options are the same. What does this mean, exactly?

The two main types are traditional and carbonised bamboo. Both are listed as “wood” flooring options. However, when people talk about bamboo flooring being so durable, they are probably referring to carbonised bamboo. Not that uncarbonised bamboo is lacking — it’s as durable as red oak.

Traditional bamboo, also known as classic bamboo, can come in a vertical or horizontal style. The process of creating traditional bamboo flooring involves cutting the harvested bamboo into strips, sterilising them, and then curing them in drying ovens. Premium strips get stacked in layers and glued before being pressed into planks. It may or may not be pre-finished for wear resistance. It typically comes in light straw yellow or blonde shades and retains its natural texture and grain.

Carbonised or strand-woven bamboo undergoes a process in which heated strips of bamboo are separated into strands, woven together, and then compressed with high-pressure heat and resins. The heat treatment causes it to become darker with a variety of shades, which remain consistent throughout and allows for sanding and refinishing. Weaving reinforces it for strength and results in a flooring that is several times harder than traditional hardwoods. While it has more flexibility for colours and textures to fit different types of decor and hides scratches well, it is more expensive than traditional bamboo.

Bamboo flooring trends follow hardwood

Bamboo might as well be hardwood 2.0, although it’s technically a grass, because the latest trends for bamboo flooring tend to follow those of hardwood. While it looks exotic with simple beauty on its own, homeowners who wish to achieve different effects can mimic many hardwood textures such as distressing, parquet, white, grey and wide planks. Bamboo still has a recognisable look of elegance, which makes it perfect for modern decor.

It’s great for high-traffic buildings

Asia popularised bamboo with its durability for flooring and doors. It can withstand the compression of furniture and feet. It can also resist stains and spills and it’s incredibly easy to clean; you only need hardwood cleaner or wood soap. You won’t see many people who only have bamboo flooring in one room, either. They tend to have it through the whole house because it can suit any decor style, making it versatile for any sized abode. All of these qualities make it pet, child and foot-traffic friendly enough for family and commercial spaces alike.

No longer just a trend, bamboo flooring is like hardwood but better. It can be manufactured in various ways and made to mimic hardwood while being cost-effective and retaining its uniqueness. The fast-growing grass is sustainable, durable and adaptable. If you’re looking to replace your flooring, consider bamboo.

To learn more about our flooring options, contact us.