To the unsuspected eye, all wood flooring looks the same. However, when you look under the hood you soon discover that the world of wood flooring includes two rival construction technologies. In the vast majority of cases, either type will suit your home, however in some homes and under some conditions one technology is more suitable than its rival. Choosing the correct option together with caring for the wood in the correct manner is the key to achieve a long service life.

Wood Flooring Technologies:

There are two type of wood flooring construction technologies. Solid wood flooring also referred to as ‘real wood flooring’ and engineered wood flooring also referred to as semi-solid. The use of the term real wood flooring loosely implies that engineered wood flooring is not made of real wood, however nothing could be further from the truth. As a homeowner, you should consider both types before choosing one based on your individual circumstances. Each has its set of pros and cons.

Solid Wood Flooring – Each floorboard is made from complete solid wood such as Oak, Walnut, Cherry and so on. The closer the wood is harvested from the center of the tree, the higher the grade of the floor is. Grade referrers to the perfection of the wood in terms of color variations between the boards, the existence of knots and other visual aspects of wood floors.

Pros – The biggest benefit of fitting solid wood comes from its durability and service life. With the right care and occasional sanding and recoating, the floor can exceed 100 years of use. In fact, it is quite common to see solid wood flooring reused as reclaimed wood flooring simply because its durability allows the wood to withstand many years foot traffic.

Cons – The biggest drawback of fitting solid wood flooring comes from its susceptibility to react to temperature changes. In its nature, wood will expand when the climate is warm and contract when the climate is cold. This may lead to gaps in the floor in some circumstances. In addition, its natural construction means that the size of floorboard is limited by the size of the tree and in terms of costs it is slightly the more expensive option of the two.

Engineered wood Flooring – When we started the article we said that ‘to the unsuspected eye, all wood flooring looks the same’. This is because engineered wood flooring is build from three or more layers of syntactic material such as Plywood, MDF and Softwood with the top layer constructed from solid wood. It is therefore clearer why the term ‘real wood flooring’ should not be used solely to describe solid wood flooring, but also to describe engineered wood flooring. When fitted, engineered flooring looks precisely like solid, however while they share the same visual look, they differ in their suitability.

Pros – The biggest benefits of fitting engineered wood flooring comes from its better suitability in damp, moist and wet areas such as a basement, bathroom or kitchen area. With a suitable top finish (Lacquered in this case), the wood can be made waterproof. Furthermore, due to its lighter weight, engineered floorboards are suitable for a type of DIY style fitting methods called ‘floating installation’ where nails or glue is not needed.

Cons – The biggest drawback of fitting engineered wood flooring comes from its service life, which cannot rival solid. While wood is an extremely strong material and both types use wood, engineered uses less and is therefore let down in the long term of the other syntactic materials. Furthermore, while solid floors can be sanded and recoated thereby increasing its service life, engineered can still be sanded however fewer times. This is because the process of sanding and recoating removes 1mm of top layer so in the case of engineered wood the thickness of the top layer (the solid layer) will determine how many times the process can be repeated.

Which type for your home?

In most cases, either type will suit well. Further attention should be given when the floor is to be fitted in damp areas or if you intend to remove the floor at some point and sell it own.

Guest Article By: Wood n’ Beyond
This guest article was supplied by wood and beyond for Professor’s House. Wood and Beyond is an FSC approved wood seller of wood flooring, decking and worktops.

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