Solid or Engineered Hardwood?

Solid or Engineered Hardwood?When choosing a hardwood floor, it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetic decisions such as stain and plank width. But what about the wood itself? Solid and engineered hardwood, while very similar, do have fundamental differences that may make one wood type the better option for you. Here is a comparison of the two hardwood types from Carolina Flooring Services to help you decide between solid or engineered hardwood for your home.

What is Engineered Hardwood?

A common misconception is that engineered hardwood is the same product as laminate flooring. Laminate is made of synthetic fibers covered with an image of wood and sealed with resin. Engineered hardwood consists of a top layer of finished wood over layers of unfinished plywood. Each layer of plywood is laid perpendicularly to the layer above it, adding stability and strength to the wood. These layers also make engineered hardwood less prone to warping in moist conditions.

What is Solid Hardwood?

Solid hardwood is simple – the planks are all wood from the same piece of timber. Most of the solid hardwood used today is finished with a water-based polyurethane, but older solid hardwood floors may be sealed with wax or oil-based urethane.

Installation and Cost

Engineered hardwood can be installed by nailing or gluing individual panels down or purchased as interlocking panels that can be laid down as a floating floor. These interlocking panels are an easy DIY project for thrifty homeowners. Solid hardwood planks are nailed or glued to the subfloor. Engineered hardwood always comes prefinished, meaning that once the planks are in place the floor is complete. Solid hardwood can come prefinished or can require the messy process of sanding and finishing, depending on the type your purchase. Most engineered hardwood options are less expensive than comparable solid hardwood, but engineered hardwood can be more expensive depending on the quality, brand, and plank size.

Maintenance and Repair

When deciding between solid or engineered hardwood, maintenance and repair are too similar to be much of a factor. Both are best maintained through regular sweeping, which prevents fine particles from scratching the finish. Both flooring types should be damp mopped at least once a week, and spills should always be wiped up immediately. Damaged planks can be individually removed and replaced from either flooring type. The biggest repair difference between the two is that extra precautions must be taken when sanding an engineered floor to prevent over sanding the finished layer and exposing the plywood beneath. Engineered hardwood typically can only be sanded and refinished up to 3 times.


Because solid and engineered hardwood floors are made of real wood and can be stained and finished with the same products, the two are usually indistinguishable. If engineered hardwood planks are not correctly installed and gaping occurs, or if the surface of engineered planks is deeply scratched, the plywood lower levels may be exposed. In that event, it will become obvious that your floor is not solid hardwood, but careful care of installation and maintenance will prevent this from becoming an issue.

Other Considerations

  • Because of its increased resistance to warping, engineered hardwood is the better option for rooms below grade or in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Engineered hardwood is often considered the “greener” flooring option because the plywood layers can be made from bits of wood that otherwise would be used as waste. However, it is always good to research the flooring brand prior to making purchases to be certain that all the glues used in their engineered flooring are eco-friendly.

Once you’ve considered your budget, your personal style, and the nature of the room you wish to install hardwood in, contact us! At Carolina Flooring Services we are happy to assist you in selecting and installing the right flooring option for you.

Photo courtesy of: Boa-Franc

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