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Product Comparison: Engineered vs. Hardwood Floors

Posted: Thursday September 30, 2010

Hardwood floors or engineered floors? You're probably wondering what the real difference is between a solid wood floor and an engineered. They look pretty much the same installed. They can be comparable in price (with a lot of room for variability in both types). Engineered flooring refers to any engineered product using real wood as a face material. Some laminates resemble wood, but are faced with plastic. While such products wear extremely well, that's just not the focus here.


Engineered flooring offers less variety, but includes mainstays such as Brazilian cherry, oak, pecan, maple, cherry and hickory.

Solid wood is more likely to include "cabin grade," or inferior pieces. With laminate, there is still some possibility of this, but it is minimized.

There are various available installation options for engineered wood floors, including: glue down, staple down, and free-floating. Solid wood floors do not offer a floating option.

Engineered floors are more dimensionally stable. All flooring contracts and expands with changes in conditions. Engineered floors remain flat under more extremes of moisture and temperature.

Engineered floors are relatively thinner, up to 5/8". This means its possible to install over an existing floor. This in turn means that transitions in height from one area to another are minimized, as well as issues with door clearance.

Solid Hardwoods

This probably makes it sound as though this article favors laminates, but thats not the case. Theres a lot about a traditional wood floor that cannot be replaced with any substitute.

Hardwood floors have a solidity underfoot that is their own, that sound of a shoe on a solid floor.

Solid wood floors offer a broader selection of species, although some of these can be exotic and are quite expensive.

Solid wood has a positive impact on resale value. If youre planning on selling your home in the near future, the words solid hardwood, like the words real stone have an appeal that laminates cant match.

High-quality hardwoodwhen properly protectedlasts and lasts and lasts.


We offer no ironclad recommendation here. Instead, ask yourself some questions before you choose, and these will guide your answers.

  • What will my budget allow? Its easy to get carried away and upsell yourself into a second mortgage.
  • Do I plan to sell this house?
  • Does the price range of this house justify hardwood?
  • How much wear will the floor take?