Struggling to choose between solid and engineered wood for your next flooring project?
Both of these flooring types are fine and could work for you no matter what you need. With that said, if you want to get the best long-term value out of your flooring, you should understand what you are dealing with.
What’s Solid Wood?
Solid wood products are made of a single piece of wood. In contrast, engineered wood is made up of a top layer of real wood (often called the wear layer or veneer) and a backboard of multiple layers of wood, often multi-ply.
Because solid wood planks are manufactured from a single piece of wood, solid floors are going to have a number of distinct advantages and disadvantages – more below.
Pros of solid wood
Better quality and durability
Solid wood is generally associated with quality and durability. You can find high-quality engineered wood on the market, but as a general rule, solid wood is considered more premium and higher-quality.
Engineered wood can be manufactured to have superior quality to solid wood. However, on average if you are paying £40 or less per square metre then it’s likely to be a subpar quality and have a lower durability than solid wood flooring.
With that, if you want a more premium feel and class, then solid wood most likely will tick the boxes for you. But do keep in mind that quality and longevity vary from wood to wood as it’s a natural product, so it’s entirely possible that an engineered floor will do just as well as a solid one.
Can be sanded multiple times
An advantage of solid wood over many engineered woods is that you can sand it down multiple times throughout its lifetime.
You see, engineered wood is composed of several layers of boards. When sanding, you are limited to the outer veneer layer – once you sand through the veneer, you’ll be exposing the ply base and have to replace the floor.
The general rule is that you can sand down a 4mm wear layer 2 to 3 times over its lifetime.
Often with solid wood this isn’t much of an issue however you are still limited to sanding down to the tongue of plank. You can’t sand further than the tongue as this will create instability. Most solid floors can be sanded down 3-4 times.
Note: A 6mm wear layer on an engineered wood floor performs the same or in most cases better than a solid floor because you can technically sand the same amount of wood. This is because solid wood can only be sanded to the tongue which usually works out to be around 4-6mm.
Cons of solid wood
Solid wood is not perfect, and its main downside is the steep pricing.
Generally, solid wood flooring is much more expensive than engineered wood. On average, solid wood flooring tends to cost about £60 per square metre, though the cost generally ranges from £50 to £80 per square metre.
Relatively low resistance to temperature and moisture
Another drawback of solid wood is that it’s prone to warping from moisture and heat because it acts as a sponge. It’s important to make sure the floor has safe moisture levels and the room has good ventilation with no damp.
If the solid wood flooring warps, the floorboards will start looking uneven and you may have to replace part or all of the floor.
It’s generally advised not to use solid wood in humid areas like shower rooms but this can be made possible by applying some sort of protective coating to the wood to prevent moisture from seeping in.
What’s Engineered Wood?
Next, we have engineered wood. Engineered wood consists of a thin outer layer of hardwood called the wear layer or veneer and often several layers of plywood (multi-ply makes improves structural integrity).
The top veneer surface is typically 3 to 6mm thick and is made of the real hardwood. We usually recommend atleast a 4mm wear layer.
The inner layers of engineered wood increase the stability of the wood, as well as help the wood resist expansion and contraction. What’s also nice about engineered woods is that they typically come prefinished.
Pros of engineered wood
Resistance to moisture and temperature
The first pro of engineered wood flooring is its resistance to warping usually caused by moisture and temperature. Although engineered wood is not completely moisture- and heat-proof, it’s less susceptible to warping thanks to the board base (usually ply).
In areas with humid and hot air, engineered wood is a much better choice than solid wood.
As mentioned earlier, engineered wood flooring is often cheaper than solid wood flooring, usually costing from £40-£70 per square metre.
There are some cheaper options but the quality tends to reduce quickly at prices lower than £40.
Solid flooring typically uses the tongue-and-groove system and is usually glued or nailed to the subfloor. This is often messier and more expensive than the floating method.
As mentioned, engineered hardwood can be floated with underlay which is quicker, easier and saves money. It can also be glued or nailed straight to the subfloor for a more stable finish.
Cons of engineered wood
Some engineered woods have really poor quality
Engineered wood is generally associated with poor quality, although we believe this is a false belief and think engineered flooring is often equal or better than many solid floors.
Paying £20-£30 per square metre for an engineered floor will often result in a poor quality, mass produced, unsustainable product however it is possible to get good deals!
Engineered wood can be made up of components of different density and quality, so whether you are looking for super-cheap flooring or want quality, engineered wood can work for various needs.
Only limited sanding
Finally, when it comes to sanding, engineered woods limit you to the upper veneer layer. Often, engineered wood allows sanding only once, though thicker woods may have 2 or 3 times in them. Compared to solid wood, this reduces the potential for long-term repair and refinishing.
With that, solid wood and engineered wood flooring both are distinct in their pros and cons.
All in all, we recommend engineered wood flooring with at least a 4mm wear layer from one of our trusted brands.
Before deciding you may have some more questions for us. Feel free to contact us on 01296 631208.