When people call our office acquiring about wood flooring, a common comment is, “I would like real hardwood flooring in my house.” Our first response usually is “smart choice” then we ask, “Do you have solid or engineered in mind?” “Hardwood, the real one” is the response. More times than not, consumers do not know the difference between the two and it surprises me that the other stores they have been shopping did not take the time to explain it to them. So I, along with everyone that answers the phone, give a quick run through about the two and which one is a better application to your needs.
So what is the difference? Is one real and the other is fake wood? Well they are both real hardwood flooring. The difference is that Solid is, well just that. A solid piece of wood made into flooring. Engineered is a plank of flooring with cross-ply layers of wood and the top layer is the species that you choose (i.e. oak, hickory, etc.). The bottom layers may be different species of wood.
The reason for the cross-ply (first layer goes North/South, second layer East/West, repeat pattern), is so when moisture hits your floors. When the floor absorbs water, the wood expands the direction it is going. So with the cross-ply, the different layers are working against each other. How does that affect you in your house? Well, the layers are working against each other and the floor stays relatively flat. With solid wood flooring, as soon as water hits it, the entire water damaged area cups. (see image below)
So which flooring is the best application in your home? In the end it is your choice what you would like in your home. Both products can be the same quality. Meaning that you can buy poor quality solid and engineered flooring and on the other hand, you can purchase high quality of each too. One is not better than the other. However, I do recommend that you put an engineered floor over a concrete slab and solid is best on a second floor or over a crawl space. The moisture from the ground rises through the concrete slab and can have small levels of moisture in the wood. I would love to hear from you. Let me how your wood floors are doing. Are they laying flat or are they cupping?