Here at O' Fallon Decorating Center, we help a lot of customers select a hardwood for their home. A very common question we get
asked is: Is an engineered or solid better? And the answer is -- it depends.

Let's take a look at the details.

What are the differences?
A solid hardwood is solid all the way through the plank. An engineered, however, is made of various layers of intersecting plywood topped with a layer of actual wood. Additionally, solid woods are only available in 3/4" thick planks, while engineered woods offer 1/2" to 3/4" thicknesses.

Solid hardwood: Pros
Solid hardwood is the classic flooring that has been put into homes for hundreds of years. Solid wood can literally last a lifetime and has never gone out of style. High quality solid hardwoods are guaranteed to last a very long time if they are maintained and taken care of. The thickness of solid hardwoods also allows them to be sanded and refinished multiple times, adding to the life of the floor.

Engineered hardwood: Pros
Engineered hardwoods have come a long way in recent years and are virtually identical in appearance to solids. They are available in a less than 3/4" thickness which can 1)lower job costs and 2) transition more evenly into less thick floors such as carpets or vinyls. Additionally it is possible to have wider planks in an engineered wood as they are less susceptible to gapping and cupping that would occur in a solid in certain environments. You can get an engineered hardwood in 2.5" - 8" wide planks while a solid usually doesn't get above 5".

Solid hardwood: Cons
Being solid all the way through the plank means a solid hardwood is less environmentally stable than an engineered. Solid wood acts as a sponge and expands when there is more moisture in the environment in the summer, and contracts when there is less in the winter. Generally here in the midwest, a solid wood floor will get hairline spaces between the boards in the winter unless a humidifier is used to keep the environment between 35%-55% relative humidity. And if they are poorly installed cupping can be an issue. Additionally a solid hardwood cannot be installed in a basement because there is too much humidity.

Engineered hardwood: Cons
The main drawback of an engineered wood is they cannot be sanded and refinished as often as a solid, especially on products with a very thin wear layer, or products that have a heavy bevel between the planks as they need to be sanded deeper to remove the finish. This basically means an engineered wood will not last as long as a solid, especially on lower cost products. Additionally, some people like knowing they have an authentic solid floor and en engineered is constructed of plywood up to the main wear layer.

In summary
As you can see, there is a whole list of pros and cons to each type of wood floor. You really can't say one product is better than the other, and it really just depends on how the product fits your needs and lifestyle. What works for one person may not work for the other. However, if you're out shopping for a hardwood keep these tips and mind, and if you're in the area stop by either of our stores in St. Charles or O' Fallon to browse our latest inventory.