October 2nd, 2014 5:09 PM by Jackie A. Graves, President
If you are
considering having hardwood floors installed
in your home, you’re going to have to decide whether you want solid wood planks
or engineered wood planks.
Both qualify as
hardwood flooring, but they’re surprisingly different from each other.
Solid Hardwood Planks
planks are milled from a single piece of hardwood and covered with a thin,
clear protective layer that often consists of aluminum oxide, ceramic or an
quarters of an inch, the thickness of solid wood planking enables it to be
sanded and refinished many times throughout the life of the floor.
plank is a solid piece of wood, it will expand and contract in accordance with
the home’s relative humidity. To prevent warping, the home’s interior relative
humidity needs to remain between 45% and 65% all year round.
flooring is available in a wide array of wood species—including oak, maple, and
black walnut as well as regional-specific choices like pecan, mesquite and
others. The market also sometimes offers exotic species of hardwood from
Brazil, Africa and elsewhere.
flooring is permanently nailed to the subfloor. Because of the expansion and
contraction issues, installers will normally leave a gap between the wall and
the floor to accommodate swelling.
This type of flooring
should only be installed in parts of the home above grade and only over
plywood, wood or oriented strand board (OSB) subfloors.
Engineered Hardwood Planks
classified as “engineered” feature multiple layers (typically three to five) bonded
together under extreme heat and pressure.
typically include a top veneer of hardwood backed by less expensive layers of
plywood—although some manufacturers use substrates made from recycled wood
fibers mixed with stone dust for improved durability and stability.
Because of the
way engineered hardwood is processed, it is not as affected by humidity as
solid wood planks are. Therefore, the product is often the preferred choice for
kitchens and bathrooms or in areas where the humidity level can vary—like in a
basement or a part of the house below grade, as long as a moisture barrier is
placed between the subfloor and the hardwood planks.
They are also
better suited for installing over in-floor heating systems.
planks now are being created with a tongue and groove installation method, much
like laminate flooring. This enables them to be installed in a floating floor
format without nails or glue.
hardwood floors are suitable for installation on all levels of the home and
over plywood, wood, OSB and concrete subfloors.
Which Wood Flooring Should I Choose?
your hardwood choice is going to be determined by where you are planning to
install the product and what you’re looking for in terms of design aesthetic.
installing hardwood flooring in a lower level of your home or in an area where
moisture or high (or low) humidity might be an issue, then you’re going to want
to stick with engineered hardwood.
On the other
hand, if you are installing the new floor on an above-grade level and
you want a traditional hardwood floor, then you can go ahead with solid
offer a beautiful finish and will increase the value of your home—as long as
they are installed correctly and maintained properly over the duration of your
Wedgeworth | Updated from an earlier version on realtor.com®.
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