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Engineered vs. solid hardwood: What's the difference? (and how to choose the right one for you)

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


July 23, 2018 - Karl Yeh

Are you choosing new flooring for your home? Wondering what the differences are between engineered and solid hardwood? In this episode, we discuss what these differences are including: benefits, cost comparison and scratch resistance. We also explore how often you need to change your hardwood and how often you can finish/sand each type. Finally, we figure out which is better for extreme climate conditions. 

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Karl Yeh:

Hi everyone, I'm Karl Yeh, welcome to another Homebuyer's School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics and tips from home buying experts.

Remember, if this is your first time on this channel and you wanna get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below, hit the little notification bell [00:00:30] so you don't miss anything.

Today I'm joined by Deborah Armstrong, Senior Interior Designer with Brookfield Residential. The topic that we're gonna cover today is:

Solid hardwood flooring versus engineered hardwood flooring. Which is best for me?

Deborah, what's the difference between the two, I think that's the first question, and then how do I choose between them?

Deborah Armstrong:         

The difference between the two is:

1. Solid hardwood is a solid piece of hardwood. If it's a maple, for example, [00:01:00] it is maple all the way through and through.

2. Engineered however, I have a piece here, is you have a thinner layer on top of the real hardwood, in this case it's oak. Underneath you have several layers of a other word, different woods here going different ways. The grains are going this way, then this way, and criss-crossing all the way through, and glued and compressed very tightly.

Benefits of engineered hardwood

The benefit of this [00:01:30] is that, it will not shrink and expand due to humidity.

That's one of the reasons why you would pick this, especially in Calgary, Edmonton areas where our temperatures change drastically, especially in our winters.

Things dry out, and you're gonna get that gapping if it was real hardwood.

Whereas an engineered, if you have your humidity set right, and that's very important with any hardwood, you won't get that shrinkage, yeah, [00:02:00] so it won't dry out.

Okay? The other reason being for the engineered, is now we can get water planks.

When you use a solid, you can get up to maybe four inches maximum, no more. We can get up to a seven and a half, eight inch wide, with engineered. We're saving trees.

Karl Yeh:           How are you saving trees? Is it just because-

Deborah Armstrong:         Because we're using instead of [00:02:30] a solid thickness now of that tree, we're using a thin layer-

Karl Yeh:           Of the tree.

Deborah Armstrong:          Of that tree.

Karl Yeh:           Is it different types of wood for the entire piece?

Deborah Armstrong:        Yes. These are like plywoods, and different types of woods that are put together, that aren't like regular hardwood, like your maple or your oaks, or things like. You're using a much more economical wood underneath.

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Which is better preventing or resisting scratches?

Karl Yeh:          

Say for scratches, [00:03:00] still engineered? Much better than solid?

Deborah Armstrong:         

Nope, they're the exact same, 'cause it's a surface. With a solid piece, if it's oak or maple, it's that on top, just as this is. This is the same on top.

Now, people say, "With solid I can finish it many times over." No, not really. You can do it about the exact same as this, because when you're using a solid it is nailed down into [00:03:30] the tongue and groove.

You can only sand down as far as that anyways, and that about three millimeters, the same as what would this be. You can refinish both of these products, solid and engineered, the exact same amount of times.

Karl Yeh:           That was one of the questions I had too is that, I was thinking with a solid you were thinking you could sand it as much-

Deborah Armstrong:          Sand it down forever. Nope, there's that little nail there, and you can't.

Karl Yeh:           Is there a point where whether it's solid or engineered, you shouldn't be sanding [00:04:00] anymore, you should just replace it?

Deborah Armstrong:         Exactly.

Karl Yeh:           Okay.

How often would you change your hardwood flooring?

Deborah Armstrong:         

You know, in a lifetime when you're in that home for 25 years, you're very rarely going to be sanding it down three times.

Most people only get one time, and then it's time to change because things have changed, styles have changed, you want to change it.

Karl Yeh:           Yeah. How often, let's say I was living in a house for 20 years, how often would you change your hardwood?

Deborah Armstrong:       

If it's really, really worn, stained, or scratched, yes. Maybe it's time to redecorate [00:04:30] if you've been in the home for that long, and that's when you'd want to do it.

Benefits of using solid hardwood

Karl Yeh:          

What are the benefits of using ... Now, you talked about using engineered hardwood, what are the benefits of using solid hardwood?

Deborah Armstrong:         

There really is no benefits over engineered. There is none. You're gonna have the same wear layer, you can get all the different same finishes.

In fact, engineered is ... You're gonna have more options with engineered, because you're gonna get those water planks that everyone wants to do today.

No one [00:05:00] wants to stick with those little boards anymore, the two and a half, two and a quarter, three and a quarter inch boards.

Cost of engineered vs. solid hardwood

Karl Yeh:           I would assume probably the price is the same?

Deborah Armstrong:        Yes, they're relatively the same.

Karl Yeh:          

Okay, great. Again like you said, it's perfect for a climate such as Calgary and Edmonton where ...

Deborah Armstrong:         Absolutely.

Karl Yeh:          

Are you saying if you use a solid hardwood in a terrible Winter, and then great Summer, does the floorboard actually shrink [00:05:30] and then there's bigger holes in between them?

Deborah Armstrong:         

Absolutely. Yeah, in between you get that gaping. Little crumbs will fall down in there if you've got pets or dogs, kids, just every day household. You're gonna see those little crumbs in there.

Come summertime when humidity comes back again, sometimes they can get, if it's not installed right, you can get buckling, 'cause they're now expanding with that moisture. The floors can just heave up a little bit.

Karl Yeh:           Oh, so you see an actual-

Deborah Armstrong:         Like a little dip. Yes, where the seams are, if you get too much humidity. [00:06:00] With the engineered, that is not a problem.

Karl Yeh:           Perfect. Anything else to add?

Deborah Armstrong:          No, I think we've covered everything.

Karl Yeh:           Perfect. The question I have for you is:

Have you installed hardwood or engineered in your house, and tell us why?

Let us know in the comment section below. Thank you very much for joining us, and we'll catch you next time.

Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional interior design questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

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