Hardwood vs Engineered - How to decide?

What's better - a hardwood floor or an engineered hardwood? I get asked this question often. There are so many beautiful options out there in both types of flooring and they each have features that are great for homeowners. So how does one decide? A good understanding of the pros and cons of each type of product is important to make an educated decision on what's best for your home.

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If engineered hardwood, isn't really all hardwood, why would you buy it?

  • The underlying layer of plywood offers structural stablility

  • They're available pre-finished in a myriad of styles - less mess on site

  • Multiple installation methods including glue, nails and interlocking, allowing for easier install

  • The price point is generally lower than true hardwoods

  • Considered better for areas that may have moisture like basements. I have them in my basement and they're very good looking. Sadly, they're not waterproof...but that's a hot water heater story for another time.

What are some of the drawbacks of engineered hardwood?

  • You can only refinish them once, maybe twice if they're really 'hi-end'

  • Because the top surface is on the thinner side, it can chip and de-laminate.

  • It will return value, but not have the longevity or ROI that solid wood has.

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Now what about true hardwood floors? Well of course, they're beautiful and like engineered hardwoods, have their own advantages.

  • They also come pre-finished in numerous finishes and styles eliminating on-site mess

  • The can be sanded multiple times

  • Hardwoods must be nailed or stapled, they cannot be glued or float - and many homeowners prefer that

  • They're great for resale - it's probably the flooring option most in demand for home buyers.

Of course, hardwoods have their negatives -

  • They're definitely not recommended for moist areas like bathrooms. (They're fine in a powder room, I love mine)

  • In most cases, they're more expensive than engineered.

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I always recommend my clients do their research, visit a few stores and read on-line reviews before making their final selection. New flooring is an investment in money and time (who's packing up the contents of all the furniture that will have to be moved?) You want to be confident in your decision so that you'll be happy for years to come.

If you've installed new flooring, I'd love to hear your thoughts. And if you're considering installing new flooring, please feel free to reach out for a quick call or a consultation.

*photos (except thumbnail) were found on Google images

Debi PinelliComment