Not too long ago, the world of hardwood flooring was ruled by Solid flooring. However, due to its unstable behavior when it came to moisture and temperature swings, the kingdom of solid flooring, ultimately lost its dominancy and engineered hardwood flooring gained popularity. Although they both coexist now, Engineered hardwood flooring is more popular!
Solid flooring is a solid piece of wood, cut from a tree log and milled to be used for wood flooring. They are usually ¾” thick and they can only be installed over a wooden subfloor. In addition, they must be installed on or above grade structure. Once again, solid wood floors cannot be installed on a concrete slab or light weight concrete. Solid flooring doesn’t perform well in areas where the temperature and the relative humidity change. The boards expand and shrinks significantly due to changes in these aforementioned elements, thus causing what we call “seasonal gapping” between the boards (i.e., buckling and cupping of the flooring planks).
Engineered flooring is a produced by binding of various wood products. It consists of sublayers that are typically a cross-bonded stable wood species such as Baltic birch topped with a veneer of the wood flooring which is sometimes called the “top layer”. The top layer veneer could be 0.5-4mm thick. This structure allows the engineered wood flooring to be much more stable and less susceptible to moisture variance and temperature swings. Engineered wood flooring can be installed over any solid surface and unlike Solid wood flooring, can be installed below grade.
Both solid and engineered flooring are available in factory finished (i.e., prefinished) or unfinished options.