When it comes to choosing a flooring product, there are a number of considerations and some of them can be confusing. One choice facing consumers is the option to go with natural or engineered hardwood floors. Natural (solid) hardwood flooring is made entirely of wood, specifically hardwood tree species such as oak, maple or walnut. In contrast, engineered hardwood is a plywood substrate bonded to a thin, top layer of hardwood. It differs from other plank floors on the market today because the top layer is actual wood- albeit thin- rather than a digital representation of wood. Read on for more details to help make the decision easier.
How is Natural Hardwood Different from Engineered?
Natural hardwood floors are classic; they were the standard in the past and are considered an upgrade in many new construction homes today. Consisting of short, narrow boards, a professional must install them by nailing each piece to a subfloor. Engineered flooring planks tend to be wider and longer. In some cases, a box of engineered flooring contains varied-length planks so the finished floor can have a more random and less cookie-cutter appearance. Engineered floor boards snap or click together and are relatively easy for a home-owner to DIY. Considered a floating floor, engineered flooring requires a subfloor and an underlayment, which is available with a variety of features and helps to insulate from cold and lessen the quintessential “click” that comes with a floating floor.
Natural Hardwood is Durable
Solid by nature, hardwood flooring has an advantage since there is no top “layer.” They can be sanded and refinished as necessary to remediate surface issues like scratches and so they last longer. Engineered floors can be refinished a limited number of times. They cannot be over-sanded or the thin hardwood layer will be compromised, resulting in damage to the floor.
Natural Hardwood Lasts Longer
As far as lifespan goes, natural hardwood floors can be expected to last a minimum of 30, up to 100 years. That may seem like a huge range, but the life of anything depends on how well it is cared for, and flooring is no different. If you take good care of your hardwood floors by keeping them clean and dry, they will last a long time. Engineered floors can be expected to last 20-30 years if properly cared for.
Natural and Engineered Hardwoods are Easy to Clean
Both solid and engineered floors are relatively easy to care for and maintain. Regular dry mopping or vacuuming, damp mopping (no bucket required), and prompt attention to spills will keep both varieties looking and feeling good underfoot. Neither floor should be installed where it will get wet, although engineered floors tolerate dampness slightly better.
Engineered Hardwoods are More Economical
In regard to cost, engineered floors have a slight advantage. Although they don’t last as long, they are more inexpensive to purchase than natural hardwoods and can be self-installed, rather than requiring the help of a professional.
Natural and Engineered Hardwoods are Both Excellent Choices
At the end of the day, the decision of whether to go with natural or engineered floors depends on the situation and lifestyle of the homeowner and their budget. There is no obvious choice; both flooring options have pros and cons that need to be considered. If you need assistance making a good flooring decision for your home, visit the flooring professionals at Ultimate Flooring Design Center. They can help you talk through your options.