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What Type of Hardwood Is Better: Solid or Engineered Hardwood?

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If you’re redoing the floors in your home, you might consider hardwood. After all, hardwood offers a timeless look and is long-lasting, requiring little maintenance over its lifetime. It matches a variety of decors. With the addition of an area rug over your hardwood floor, you can change the look of a room.

If you’ve just started your research in hardwood flooring options, you might be wondering which is better: solid hardwood floors or engineered hardwood floors?

The fact is, neither one is inherently “better” than the other. It all depends on your tastes, your needs, the way your home was built, and your budget. In many ways, engineered hardwood floors offer many more advantages, including less maintenance, easier installation, and a more extensive selection of styles. In most cases, the average homeowner cannot visually see the difference between a solid hardwood floor from engineered hardwood. If you are looking to create the look of a historic home, you may opt for new solid hardwood. But with every job, there are limitations and expectations. Please check with the experts at Tom Adams to verify the correct floor for your home.

Let’s look at the difference between the two flooring options and consider the benefits of each.

What Is Solid Hardwood?

Solid hardwood floor strips or planks are cut from the log of the tree. This can be done horizontally or vertically to the grain of the log to give a different visual appearance. Most strips usually range from 1.5 inches wide to 2.5 inches wide, while planks range from 3 inches wide to 5 inches wide. Pieces are sanded down and finished, approximately ¾ of an inch thick and as long as a length of the log until the wood needs to be cut because of visual imperfections to the hardwood. These imperfections could be a knot, mineral stain, or bowing of the wood itself.

Solid hardwood floors are easy to keep clean using a broom, vacuum, or swifter. Solid hardwood should never be installed over gypcrete, homosalate, flakeboard, or concrete. The strength of solid hardwood adds to your home by only installing the solid hardwood perpendicular to the beams of your home over 3/4″ plywood or OSB board.

If you’re redoing your floor in preparation to sell your home, hardwood flooring has a residual value of 106% over your cost compared to 60% residual value of carpet, according to real estate experts. Also, homes have a 54% higher chance of selling if they have hardwood instead of carpet.

When moisture is in the air, solid hardwood always wants to expand the width of the grain, which in a 5-inch wide wood, may even make the hardwood pop up, from a flat installation, as it expands. The wider the wood, the larger the expansion.

Because solid hardwood expanding and contracting in your home during summer and winter, it is necessary to have a humidifier in the winter and a dehumidifier during the summer months to protect your floors.

Keep in mind, solid hardwood may be more expensive. As trends of hardwood go to wider widths, solid hardwood becomes harder to find and becomes more cost-prohibitive. Solid hardwood costs are on the rise, almost 30% higher in the last 90 days because of shortages and waste of solid hardwood floors during manufacturing. More manufacturers are discontinuing their production of solid hardwoods and focusing on engineered hardwood only.

Be sure to do the math to see if the expensive investment will pay off if you plan to sell.


On a positive note, as time goes by, if you want to refinish the hardwood and /or change the color, sanding and refinishing can be an easy fix to make your solid hardwood look new again. Always get a seasoned professional to complete that work, even though your house may need a good professional cleaning. Having a professional refinish your floors is like buying a new floor at 1/3 of the original cost.

Solid hardwood can give 50 years plus enjoyment out of your hardwood floor and then you can sell the home and existing floor at a higher price, all thanks to the solid hardwood and its ability to sand and refinish. It may be worth the investment.

Some new trends are coming in 2021, like waterproof hardwood flooring. But that does not include solid hardwood. Scratch marks from dragging furniture or pets may come clean and smooth again, based on how bad the scratch. You may be able to screen and reapply a new urethane finish or replace a board or two, in order to make your floor look new again.

When choosing solid hardwood floors, pick a reliable manufacturer and installer who will understand the complexities of installing hardwood flooring. Remember that moisture, heat, and cold can change the installation of your floor from a success to a failure. Tom Adams Windows and Carpets has 66 years of experience as an expert installer and offers National Award Winning Installation of solid hardwood floors.

Here are some of the benefits of solid hardwood floors:

  • Increases the value of your home
  • Improves the beauty of your home
  • Long-lasting and can be re-sanded and re-finished
  • Adds strength to the floor with correct installation
  • Matches any décor and can change with a sanding
  • Proper installation and care and maintenance can make this a forever floor

What Is Engineered Hardwood?

Some of the new Engineered hardwood falls into the category of waterproof flooring, making it great for homes with pets and children. Engineered hardwood has a number of advantages, including enhanced durability, easier installation with more choices for installation methods, hardwood stability, and a wider variety of design choices and widths.

Engineered hardwood is created by bonding wood layers together. The layers are bonded with marine adhesive in a 90-degree criss-cross of the grains for increased strength and stability against humidity, moisture, and water.

hardwood floor

These engineered floors and high-density boards can be made to interlock with every plank. This creates a surface that is watertight or can be nailed or glued down based on your home’s existing subfloor. Based on the subfloor condition, the correct engineered hardwood can be installed in your home. Engineered hardwood is perfect for the kitchen with its high traffic and water spilling areas at the sink, dishwasher, kitchen table, and refrigerator. In the case of spills, water beads up on top of the hardwood urethane surface until it can be wiped up. Even if the water sits for an hour on regular engineered hardwood flooring, no damage should be done to the floor… on the waterproof engineered hardwood floors, you won’t experience any damage even after a day or two of spills that have not been cleaned up.

Engineered hardwood tends to look more consistent than solid hardwood since the pieces are, essentially, made in a factory. Each plank either has or doesn’t have natural imperfections, based on your product selection. Most people cannot tell the difference between a solid or engineered hardwood. Usually, you can tell by the thickness of hardwood, and sometimes by the graining of the solid hardwood. Lastly, if you are looking at a 7- or 8-inch wide hardwood, it is a good chance its engineered hardwood. You don’t want to purchase a solid wood that wide unless you want gaps between the planks that are ¼-inch or greater.

Most importantly, both solid and engineered hardwood are equally durable based on the manufacturer’s urethane and costs applied during the manufacture ring of the hardwood.

Engineered hardwood floors are very trendy thanks to their lower cost, easy installation, and low maintenance.

Here are some of the benefits of engineered hardwood floors:

  • Some are waterproof
  • Available in more colors and styles than solid hardwood
  • Durable and stable
  • Affordable
  • Easy to install options
  • More installation options based on the subfloor
  • Wider widths and selections
  • Varied thickness, varied price points, varied appearances
  • Excellent for pets

What to Consider about New Hardwood Floors

If you’re considering adding new hardwood floors to your home, or even window replacement, window installation, or new patio doors, call the best Hardwood company with four showrooms in Lehigh Valley, Churchville, Whitehall, and Doylestown with a 66-year reputation for quality. Tom Adams Windows and Carpets can do it all for you. We service and install in the Lehigh Valley, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester counties including Philadelphia. We also serve New Jersey Shore and Mountain Homes in the Poconos.

Which do you like better? Solid or engineered hardwood?

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