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Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring

Learn about both solid and engineered hardwood flooring to decide which one is right for you.

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 Solid vs. Engineered Wood Guide

Prime Harvest Oak - Warm Caramel

When it comes to adding warmth and elegance to a room, nothing beats the beauty of a genuine hardwood floor. If you're thinking about installing hardwood flooring in your home, learn the differences between solid wood and engineered wood floors.

Both types are 100% real wood, and they both offer many looks and colors, but there are significant distinctions.

 Two Types of Hardwood Floors

Solid hardwood boards are milled from a single piece of lumber. The thickness of the boards can vary, but generally range from 3/4" to 7/16".

Browse Solid Hardwood Floors

Engineered wood flooring is constructed from multiple plies of wood with a solid wood top layer. Below the top layer, cross layers of plywood are pressed to create a strong, stable core. At the bottom is a hardwood backing.

Browse Engineered Hardwood Floors

 Where Can I Install Hardwood Floors?

Solid hardwood expands and contracts in reaction to changes in moisture and temperature, so solid wood floors are only recommended for rooms at ground level or above.

The unique construction of engineered wood creates a structure that is less likely to buckle, gap, or react to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. You can install engineered flooring on any level, including below ground. It's a great choice for finished basements and bathrooms.

 Solid vs. Engineered Performance

Hardwood floors aren't just beautiful - they're meant to be lived on. Prefinished solid and engineered boards have hard-as-nails coatings that can take a beating from the pitter-patter of kids and pets, not to mention the inevitable drops and spills of daily living.

Engineered floors have enhanced stability, which provides slightly more resistance to everyday wear- and-tear and also to buckling or rippling.

Wood Hardness Scale

 DIY vs. Pro Installation

Solid hardwood flooring is either glued, nailed, or stapled to a wood subfloor. These types of installations are best left to the pros, since they can challenge even experienced DIYers.

Engineered wood floors can be either nailed down or glued down, like a traditional hardwood installation. They can also be installed as "floating" floors, in which the boards attach to each other and "float" above the subfloor.

How to install hardwood floors

 DIY Hardwood Installation

Installing a solid hardwood floor using traditional methods is a challenge, but with the right planning and tools, most skilled DIYers can handle the job with beautiful results. But before rolling up your sleeves, review our DIY skill assessment, so you know what to expect.

For an easier and faster DIY installation, choose an engineered hardwood floor with the Lock&Fold™ installation system. This simple two-step process eliminates the need for messy glue or nails.

 Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors grow more appealing with age. But the protective top coating may eventually develop scratches, scuffs, and may dull over time. Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished many times throughout their life - up to 10 times - depending on the board thickness.

Engineered boards can also be refinished, but typically only 1-2 times over the life of the floor.

 Hardwood Flooring Costs

Solid hardwood floors may cost more than engineered floors, but that's not always the case. There are many factors that affect the final cost, including installation method, labor, and subfloor condition. One way to reduce expenses is to install the floor yourself. Engineered wood installations are more DIY-friendly. Armstrong's price estimator is a helpful tool to get an estimate for the cost of buying and installing a hardwood floor.

Get a Flooring Price Estimate