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Making your hardwood flooring choices for your home can be a fun challenge. There are different tones, types, textures, patterns, finishes, colors — but before you can decide any of that, you must answer one big question: solid or engineered?
Solid hardwoods are best at ¾-inches thick and 2 ½ to 5-inches wide, because they can be prone to cupping with an increased plank width. Those wider solid hardwood planks will also need to be both glued and nailed down, which can increase installation time and labor costs. So you’ll probably want to look at engineered hardwood if you’re looking for wider planks.
Installing solid hardwood involves nailing them to the subfloor or nailing them to tar and screeds. One major benefit of solid hardwood planks is that they can be sanded and refinished multiple times over the years — a notable difference from engineered and the reason they can increase your home’s resale value.
One of the biggest drawbacks to solid hardwood flooring, however, is how susceptible they are to moisture or other water leaks. Moisture can travel quickly through solid planks and cause expansion or cupping and can be costly to repair. Temperature changes can also affect solid hardwood’s expansion and contraction. Make sure you consider this factor when making your hardwood flooring choices.
Although solid wood flooring used to be substantially more expensive than engineered, that is no longer the case; they are on equal footing these days when it comes to cost.
Engineered hardwood has no similar restrictions when it comes to plank width, giving them a leg up on design options from solid hardwoods.
Although both solid and engineered hardwoods are made from actual wood, engineered flooring combines several layers of wood into one plank so that there is one top layer of hardwood veneer and several layers of wood and/or plywood glued together. This specific engineering makes these options more stable and better able to endure environmental changes such as in moisture or temperature.
High-quality engineered hardwood flooring is typically 5/8 to ¾-inches thick, with a very thin veneer layer. The veneer layer can be anywhere from 1/12 to 3/16-inches thick. The veneer thickness is what determines the number of times the engineered planks can be sanded down and refinished, while the lower layers determine the strength and stability of the flooring.
Engineered hardwood comes in a wide variety of styles and finishes but can, like solid hardwood, come unfinished so that homeowners can customize stain and surface detailing.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both hardwood flooring choices. As with the rest of your custom home, you should pick the option that’s right for you and your family.