Engineered Wood, it's fake, right?
Part 3: All About Engineered Wood.
Solid vs Engineered Hardwood
Solid hardwood plank is milled from a single piece of wood with a tongue and groove design and is 3/4" thick. It's available in a lot of widths from a traditional 2 1/4" strip to a 7" wide plank.
Despite a common misconception, engineered wood still comes from a tree. It simply has a laminated core comprised of horizontally opposed layers of stranded wood fiber to which a veneer is applied.
What to choose depends mostly on what kind of subfloor you have.
A solid hardwood is for staple down installations on wood subfloors only. If you're installing wood in your house anywhere but the basement, this is what you'll use. You can refinish 3/4" solid hardwood 2-3 times over its life without compromising its integrity.
Engineered hardwood is more dimensionally stable for areas prone to elevated moisture levels emanating from a concrete subfloor but can also be stapled to wood subfloor. It is typically glued down or floated over an underlayment.
Any areas below grade with a concrete slab, such as a basement, require an engineered wood. High-rise condominiums also fall into this category.
The Exception to The Rule
There is an exception to this rule. If moisture levels are nominal, you can install a plywood subfloor over the concrete and then staple down a solid hardwood floor. This is usually problematic, in most cases, due to clearance issues with doors and appliances etc. since you are adding 1.5" of elevation.
There are 1/4" solid hardwood floors rated for concrete floors that are at or above grade but not very common.
When comparing solid vs engineered wood, you might notice that the grain looks slightly different. Most engineered floors have much more open grain patterns and sometimes more color variation plank to plank. This is because the most common way to harvest the veneers is with a process called rotary peel. Veneers are also very thin and some cannot be refinished.
Moisture Resistant Option
If you need the moisture resistance of an engineered hardwood with the beauty and serviceability of a solid, then there are a few companies that actually attach a solid 1/4" hardwood plank to an engineered core.
If you've read all 3 parts of this series on hardwood, then you should be well armed when navigating the process of choosing the right plank for you. If the abundance of information has left you more confused instead, just talk to one of us for more help.