For years hardwood flooring has been the popular choice in homes everywhere. Many times we are refinishing hardwood floors that are 50, 75 or 100 years old. Hardwood flooring can last a lifetime, making a very sustainable resource. The longevity of a hardwood floor will depend on if you select a solid hardwood or engineered hardwood.

The difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood is pretty simple. Solid hardwood is “real” hardwood throughout. Engineered hardwood has top veneer (often times referred to as sand-able wear layer) of “real” hardwood that is attached to a plywood or HDF platform.  Engineered hardwoods are constructed for dimensional stability in moist, humid conditions. For example, if you have a concrete slab or if you live in a more humid environment, engineered hardwood would be the wiser choice. The plywood platform is designed to control the excessive expansion and contraction.

So how to choose a quality engineered hardwood? Well the bottom line to quality and longevity is how much ”real” hardwood you get when buying the product. The best products have 4 – 6mm of real sand-able hardwood. A 6mm wear layer is equivalent to solid hardwood with the amount actual sanding that can be done. The majority of engineered hardwoods are 2 -3 mm. These can still be quality products and can be sanded at least once. Educating yourself before purchasing an engineered hardwood is a must, so here are some quick pointers when shopping for hardwood:

General rule of thumb is solid hardwoods on wood sub-floors, engineered hardwoods on concrete slabs. There is always exceptions. Engineered hardwood can be installed on either wood sub-floor or concrete slabs but you cannot glue down a solid hardwood on a concrete slab.

How long do you plan on living in this home? If you don’t want to invest top dollar into a home that you are only going to be in for a few years then consider a engineered product with a smaller wear layer. Often times these hit better price points.

Are you buying a “textured floor”? Hand-scraping, wire-brushing, etc. change the way you maintain a floor. You would not sand a floor that has been hand-scraped because it takes away the texture. You would re-coat the floor. With that being said if you purchase a hand-scrape, having a big wear layer may not be as important.

The bottom line when purchasing hardwood flooring is knowing what you’re getting and having the right expectations.
Tell us about your experience. Do you have solid hardwood? Engineered?