Engineered wood flooring combines the best features of solid hardwood and laminate flooring, without most of their drawbacks. This versatile and attractive flooring is made by bonding real wood veneers to a plywood or high-density fiberboard (HDF) core.
This unique construction results in floors that are beautiful, durable, and stable. Engineered wood resists moisture damage and can be installed directly over concrete or radiant heating systems. The multi-layer build also minimizes expansion and contraction, preventing gapping.
In this comprehensive guide, we will dive into the top ten benefits of engineered wood flooring:
After reading this guide, you’ll understand why engineered hardwood is one of the best choices for residential and commercial flooring installations. Let’s take a closer look at why this versatile flooring is growing so quickly in popularity.
|Attractive Appearance||Made from real hardwood veneers for an authentic wood look|
|Excellent Stability||Cross-layered construction resists expansion and contraction|
|Resilient to Moisture||Multi-layer build prevents moisture damage|
|Easier Installation||Can be floated or glued down on many surfaces|
|Cost Savings||20-30% cheaper than solid hardwood on average|
|Wide Range of Styles||Hundreds of species, colors, grains and finishes|
|Easier Maintenance||Protective veneer layer resists dents and scratches|
|Can Be Refinished||Can be renewed multiple times unlike laminate|
|Reduces Noise||Multi-ply build absorbs sound and footsteps|
|Sustainable Materials||Uses recycled wood and bamboo byproducts|
Engineered wood flooring offers a number of compelling benefits compared to solid hardwood or laminate flooring. Here are the top 10 reasons to consider engineered hardwood for your home or office:
The top layer of engineered flooring is made from real hardwood veneers, providing an authentic wood look and feel. Engineered floors come in a wide variety of wood species like oak, maple, hickory, and exotic woods. This gives you a broad selection of colors, grains, and textures.
The veneers can also be thicker than solid hardwood, allowing for deeper wood grains and more character. With contemporary visuals like wide and long planks, engineered wood offers beauty and versatility.
Solid wood shrinks and expands naturally with changes in temperature and humidity. This movement can cause gapping, cupping, and other damage over time.
In contrast, the cross-layered construction of engineered wood flooring makes it highly resistant to expansion and contraction. This prevents warping, buckling, and separation between boards. Engineered floors retain their shape and structure year after year.
The dense plywood or HDF core of engineered flooring gives it superior resistance to moisture. While solid wood readily soaks up excess moisture, engineered wood’s multi-layer build prevents water damage. This makes it an excellent choice for kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, and basements.
Engineered wood flooring can be installed as a floating floor or glued directly to the subfloor. This versatility allows engineered wood to be placed over many surfaces, including plywood, OSB, concrete, tile, vinyl, and radiant heating systems. Proper acclimation and expansion gaps are still required, but installation is generally easier than solid hardwood overall.
The thick wood veneer layer provides the beauty of solid wood, while the plywood or HDF core offers significant cost savings. Since less high-grade lumber is used, engineered flooring is around 20-30% cheaper than traditional hardwood on average. Affordable engineered options start around $3 per square foot installed.
From classic to contemporary visuals, you’ll find a full spectrum of colors, grains, finishes, widths, and lengths. Popular engineered wood styles include classic oak and maple, as well as walnut, Brazilian cherry, bamboo, acacia, and cork. With hundreds of options, you can match the floor to your interior design vision.
The protective veneer layer resists dents and scratches better than solid wood. Engineered flooring is also less prone to damage from pet claws, high heels, and heavy foot traffic. Maintenance is easy with regular vacuuming and damp mopping. Refinishing is rarely needed but can renew the floors after years of wear.
While laminate flooring cannot be refinished, many engineered floors can be lightly sanded and refinished several times. This allows you to refresh the appearance after 10-15 years of use. However, the veneer layer is thin, so engineered wood cannot be refinished as often as a solid wood floor.
The multi-ply construction of engineered flooring naturally dampens sound transmission. This creates a quieter indoor environment with less echo and ambient noise. Solid floors and laminate tend to amplify noise as people walk across them.
Engineered wood makes efficient use of wood resources by using less of the valuable hardwood layer. The plywood and HDF cores utilize wood and bamboo byproducts to minimize waste. When sourced from managed forests, engineered flooring can be an eco-friendly choice.
|Factor||Engineered Wood||Solid Hardwood|
|Appearance||Wide array of wood looks and plank sizes||Unique natural variations and customization|
|Cost||$3-12 per sq. ft. installed||$5-15+ per sq. ft. installed|
|Stability||Very stable, resists expansion and contraction||Prone to gapping and buckling|
|Moisture Resistance||Excellent, multi-layer build prevents moisture damage||Poor, absorbs moisture easily|
|Installation||Install over many surfaces like concrete or radiant heat||Sensitive to subfloor; climate controlled space needed|
|Refinishing||Can be refinished 2-3 times||Can be sanded and refinished many times|
|Eco-friendly||Uses recycled wood, bamboo, and wood byproducts||Sourced from premium lumber; larger carbon footprint|
Engineered and solid hardwood floors result in very different looks, performance, and costs. Here’s an overview of how engineered wood stacks up against solid wood:
The top veneer layer mimics solid wood, while the core lends stability only. Engineered wood provides a wide array of wood looks since less high-grade lumber is required for the surface.
Solid wood offers uniqueness with natural variations, flaws, and fully exposed wood grain. Custom wood species, cuts, and stains provide endless customization.
Engineered planks can be wider and longer than solid wood, allowing for a modern, seamless look.
Engineered wood costs $3-12 per square foot installed, making it an affordable and attractive option for homeowners.
Solid exotic woods, custom wood cuts, and specialized installation can cost $12 or more per square foot. Solid domestic oak and maple are more affordable at $5-9 per square foot installed.
The thick veneer and multi-ply core reduce material costs for engineered flooring. More abundant and affordable woods can be used for the core layers.
Engineered flooring resists expansion, contraction, warping, and moisture damage thanks to its multi-layer build. This makes it ideal for radiant heat and tile subfloors.
Solid wood is prone to gapping, cupping, and buckling as it naturally reacts to humidity and temperature changes. Protective site conditions and ample expansion space are required.
Overall, engineered wood offers better stability and resilience over the life of the flooring.
Engineered wood is more resource efficient since only the top layer uses high-grade lumber. The core layers utilize recycled woods, bamboo, and wood scraps.
Solid floors use thicker premium wood cuts, so have a larger carbon footprint. However, buying locally harvested solid wood supports regional loggers.
Many engineered manufacturers use sustainable forestry practices and EPA-compliant processes. Look for recycled content and green certifications when comparing brands.
|Surface Layer||Real wood veneer||Photographic laminate layer|
|Durability||Prone to dents and scratches but resists moisture damage||Highly scratch and stain resistant but damaged by moisture|
|Feel||Softer, warmer underfoot||Harder and more hollow sound when walked on|
|Refinishing||Can be refinished 2-3 times||Cannot be refinished|
|Moisture Resistance||Excellent, multi-layer build prevents moisture damage||Poor, swells and warps easily|
|Installation||Floats or glues down; level subfloor needed||Floats only; more forgiving of uneven subfloors|
|Cost||$3-12 per square foot installed||$1-8 per square foot installed|
|Environmental||Uses recycled wood, bamboo; sustainable forestry||Made from plastics and resins|
Laminate flooring provides a resilient and affordable flooring option. But engineered wood beats out laminate in several performance categories:
Engineered wood has a top layer of real hardwood, making it look and feel like solid wood floors. Laminate has a printed image layer over fiberboard or plastic.
Laminate is highly scratch and stain resistant thanks to the resin wear layer. Engineered wood can dent and scratch, but resists moisture damage better than laminate.
Engineered wood feels warmer and softer underfoot. Laminate provides a harder, hollow sound when walking across it.
The real wood veneer of engineered flooring can be lightly sanded and refinished up to 2-3 times. Laminate cannot be refinished or renewed at all.
Laminate outperforms engineered for stain, scratch, and scuff resistance. The resin wear layer protects the floor from spills, pet claws, heel dents, and more.
Over time, engineered wood will show wear patterns while laminate maintains its facade longer. Proper maintenance is required for both floors.
Engineered wood handles spills, steam, and moisture much better than laminate. The multi-ply build resists water damage that causes laminate to swell and warp.
Laminate flooring performs poorly around excess moisture and humidity. Bathrooms, basements, and kitchens are not recommended for laminate.
Overall, engineered hardwood is the better choice in damp areas prone to spills. Laminate works fine in dry, climate controlled spaces.
Both engineered wood and laminate floors float over the subfloor, making DIY installation straightforward. Some engineered floors can also be glued down.
Laminate has a click-lock system that snaps together easily. Engineered boards require tongue-and-groove alignment and gluing at the joints.
Laminate is better suited for uneven subfloors. Engineered does best on flat, smooth substrates.
|Limited refinishing||Veneer layer is thin, so only can be refinished 2-3 times|
|Not for uneven subfloors||Can telegraph irregularities over time|
|Still some expansion/contraction||Can buckle or gap if humidity changes drastically|
|Too uniform looking||Lacks natural flaws and variations of solid wood|
|Difficult repairs||Boards with deep damage need complete replacement|
|Not as eco-friendly||Solid wood is more natural and sustainable|
|Poor extreme temp/humidity performance||Solid wood adapts better to severe climate swings|
While engineered hardwood offers many upsides, there are a few potential disadvantages to note as well:
The thin veneer layer, usually around 1/14" thick, means engineered floors cannot be refinished as many times as a solid wood floor. Light sanding and refinishing can be done several times, but the wood veneer will eventually run out.
High spots, uneven surfaces, and irregular tiles can telegraph through the engineered floor over time. The planks are not as flexible as laminate. Subfloor prep is important prior to installation.
While very stable overall, engineered wood can still minimally expand and contract. Allowing proper expansion gaps during installation is important to prevent possible buckling or gapping if humidity levels change drastically.
The layered construction results in a flawless, uniform appearance. Solid wood offers more natural character from knots, mineral streaks, and grain variety. But for many homeowners, engineered wood’s smooth look is an advantage over wood flaws.
Minor surface damage can be touched up, but boards with deep gouges or finish damage need full replacement. The planks cannot be partially sanded down or have layers planed off like solid wood.
While engineered wood makes efficient use of wood resources, solid hardwood remains more natural and sustainable. Locally harvested solid floors have a smaller carbon footprint.
Homes with extreme swings in temperature or humidity levels will see better performance from solid hardwood. The dimensional changes in solid wood make it more adaptable to severely dry or humid environments. But engineered performs well in typical residential settings.
Overall, engineered wood’s pros still outweigh the cons for most homeowners. Consider how each potential drawback fits your flooring needs and preferences.
Engineered hardwood offers the beauty of real wood along with excellent stability, versatility, and moisture resistance. This makes it an ideal flooring choice for busy homes and commercial spaces that see heavy foot traffic, moisture, and temperature fluctuations.
The layered plywood/HDF core resists expansion and contraction, preventing gaps, cupping, and damage over time. Engineered wood stays structurally sound despite changes in humidity and climate. Water-prone areas like basements, kitchens, and bathrooms are no match for engineered flooring.
While more affordable than exotic solid woods, engineered flooring does come at a higher cost than laminate. But the real wood surface is warmer, quieter, and easier to maintain than laminate floors. And engineered wood can be refinished multiple times, unlike laminate.
Overall, engineered hardwood combines the customization and natural beauty of solid wood with the resilience and stability of laminates. This versatile flooring solution works well in residential or commercial settings. Just be sure to buy from reputable brands that use eco-friendly practices.
If you’re looking for wood floors that handle real-life with grace while providing an elegant look, engineered hardwood is a top choice. Its realistic appearance, unmatched durability, and moisture resistance make this a go-to flooring option.