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Solid Wood or Engineered Wood Floors?

Fitting engineered wood planksOne of the most frequently asked questions is what type of wood a customer should go for, solid or engineered? What are the pros and cons and how much both options cost?

Solid wood floors, such as oak, cherry, maple etc. feature improved resistance to physical damage and can be re-sanded multiple times when the protective sealant has worn off. Solid installations, however, are less resistant to humidity. Damp subfloor, flooding or area with increased or rapidly changing humidity mean a higher risk of solid wood planks getting shrunk and deformed.

A good example of places where you might be better off opting for something else rather than solid wood flooring is a South facing conservatory with frequent and rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity, cellar with constant, higher humidity etc.

Fitting engineered wood flooring makes for a great alternative in these cases. Engineered wood layers are designed to be more resistant to higher temperature and humidity and come off with flying colours through mishaps that would have caused severe damage to solid wood flooring. Engineered floors have one major disadvantage over solid and it´s their shorter lifespan. 

Engineered wood blocks typically come in thickness that varies between 18 and 20 mm, with a top layer of natural wood that´s usually 5 mm thin, meaning they can be re-sanded and re-finished once or twice and this which shortens their life to just 5 to 7 years.

The price of engineered floors may vary quite a lot. Starting from £22.00 depending on wood finish (exclusive of VAT), price sometimes skyrockets and go higher than what you would pay for solid wood featuring the same surface finish. Of course, price hikes are sometimes justified and well worth depending on the specific conditions in the area, where flooring is to be installed.                                                                                                                                 

To summarise:

Tongue and groove system used for hardwood flooring

Hardwood Floors

  • Made out of a single piece of 100% natural wood
  • The most popular profile is tongue-and-groove
  • Less resistant to high humidity levels
  • It is harder to install
  • Unless you keep the consistent temperature during the different seasons expect minor gapping
  • Can be sanded multiple times and generally last longer
  • In most cases, it is more expensive than engineered flooring

Can be installed on or above grade with nails or staples

Sideview of a click system used for engineered wood

Engineered Floors

  • Made out of multiple planks of different wood species
  • Can be tongue and groove or click-lock
  • More resistant to temperature changes
  • Incredibly easy to install
  • Minimal seasonal movement
  • Can be refinished only two or three types at most which usually means the shorter life span
  • Most of the time it is cheaper than hardwood
  • Can be installed above, on or below grade

FlooringFirst! Services
158 Coles Green Road
London, NW2 7HW
T: 020 88309782