One of the best ways to add style and value to your home is to install hard surface flooring. When it comes to hardwood flooring you have the options of traditional solid hardwood or engineered hardwood. Even though solid hardwood and engineered hardwood are both 100% wood, the key difference is that traditional hardwood is made from a solid piece of wood. Engineered hardwood is constructed of layers of plywood with a thin wood veneer skin on top, and a thin wood layer on the bottom. When engineered hardwood first entered the market, most people saw it as a less than perfect substitute for traditional hardwood flooring although, with recent advances in manufacturing, engineered hardwood is quickly becoming the preferred hardwood flooring for homeowners.
Traditional hardwood flooring responds to moisture by shrinking and expanding, depending on the humidity in your home. In the spring or summer, hardwood flooring expands. During the winter, it can shrink. Hardwood flooring is also subject to water damage. For this reason, it is not a good choice to install traditional hardwood in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or even kitchens.
Engineered hardwood is made from layers of plywood and wood that are bonded together with adhesives under intense heat and pressure. Due to this type of production method, engineered hardwood does not shrink or expand. Also, because it is more resilient than traditional hardwood to moisture, it can be installed in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. If there aren’t extreme moisture issues and a protective moisture barrier is installed, engineered hardwood can be installed almost anywhere.
Traditional hardwood flooring is usually nailed or stapled down which means it can only be installed above a plywood base. If you have a concrete floor, traditional hardwood flooring is not an option. It is usually never installed to float above any type of subfloor base.
Engineered hardwood has numerous installation methods. It can be nailed or stapled down like traditional hardwood, but it can also be installed using glue or with a floating lock and fold method. With lock and fold, you put down an underlying pad, and then install the engineered hardwood on top. Lock and fold engineered hardwood can even be installed above the concrete. This floating installation is great for basements and houses or condos built with slab foundations.
When it comes to maintenance, engineered hardwood and traditional hardwood have their advantages and disadvantages. If traditional hardwood is exposed to moisture for long periods of time, the floorboards will permanently warp. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, can withstand exposure to moisture much better than traditional hardwood.
One advantage of traditional hardwood is that if the surface is damaged, it can be easily sanded. Engineered hardwood can also be sanded, but not as many times as traditional hardwood. Engineered hardwood can only be sanded lightly one or two times before the thin top layer of wood will wear away. Traditional hardwood can be sanded numerous times, but eventually, it can also become thin if sanded too much.