In the past, when one spoke of a wood floor, it could only mean one thing – a floor made of solid timber planks. However, this is no longer the case today thanks to the onset and prevalence of engineered timber (unlike solid wood, engineered timber consists of several timber ply layers that have been heat-bonded together). This then begs the question: which is better for your flooring needs, solid or engineered timber flooring? Well, you can only answer this question by evaluating the different factors outlined below.
Because solid wood is 100% solid hard wood timber, it is more expensive compared to engineered timber that consists mostly of ply. In fact, this cost consideration is one of the main reasons that led to the creation of engineered timber in the first place. So, how much cheaper is engineered timber? Well, that depends on which hardwood you choose as the top layer of your engineered timber floor.
There is a stark contrast between how solid timber and engineered flooring is installed. With solid timber floors, the planks have to be nailed to a framework of soft wood or ply. However, engineered planks can be attached directly onto existing timber or concrete floors. In addition to that, they come pre-finished so no need to treat, seal or polish them. This makes engineered floors far easier and faster to install.
When it comes to looks, both solid and engineered wood floors put up quite a competition. Solid wood floors have that authentic traditional look and feel. Engineered timber floors, on the other hand, feature a top hardwood layer so they cannot be discredited as not looking authentic. However, the difference is that engineered timber has numerous finish coatings that may reduce its natural grainy feel. This gives solid timber floors a slight edge in the aesthetics department.
In regards to maintenance, engineered timber floors win flat out. After cost, maintenance is easily the second reason why engineered timber was invented. The pre-finished top layer makes cleaning very easy. In addition to that, some varieties of engineered timber bear a scratch-resistant surface that makes it very easy to maintain your floors. Solid timber floors, on the other hand, have to be sanded, sealed and polished any time they wear down.
When it comes to durability, solid hardwood timber wins any day. It's thick, heavy and strong. Not only can it sustain all manner of stresses, it's more capable of fending off pests and warp damage. Although engineered timber is pretty tough as well, it can get damaged by moisture. In addition to that, engineered timber has little sanding life as compared to solid wood which can be sanded down over and over for decades.
The truth is that there is no 'better' choice between the two. You can only choose what you prefer. If you want a traditional and highly durable floor, go with solid hardwood. If you want affordable, easy-to-maintain and easy-to-install, choose engineered timber flooring.