When you decide to get a hardwood floor for your home or office, you’ll be faced with more choices than you might have thought. Many people think that you just decide on what type of wood you want or what color and then you’re ready to install. Inf act, there are dozens of different choices. One of the most fundamental is whether you want engineered hardwood or solid hardwood. You’ll see solid hardwood called several different things too.
Solid hardwood might be called prefinished hardwood, factory finished hardwood, unfinished hardwood, or site finished hardwood. These might sound similar to engineered hardwood, but they’re all names for solid planks. Prefinished and factory finished hardwoods mean the same thing. They’re hardwood planks that have been stained and sealed at a factory by the manufacturer. When they’re shipped to your house, they’re ready to be installed.
Unfinished and site finished hardwoods are the same thing as well. They’re hardwoods that do not have stain or seal on them. They’ll need to be stained and sealed at your house. All of these are planks of solid hardwood. So, what is engineered hardwood?
Engineered hardwood is a very popular option that has been growing in popularity for homeowners for years. It is a great compromise between the beauty of solid plank hardwood and the durability of some synthetic options. Engineered hardwood is made from at least two layers, but oftentimes, it is made of three layers.
The bottom layer is the backing layer. It’s a stiff wood or synthetic. Some engineered hardwood has a waterproof layer as the backing layer to keep moisture from coming through the subfloor. The next layer is actually multiple layers of thin plywood. This provides weight, height, and flexibility to the plank. The top layer, often called the wear layer, is a thin sheet of hardwood. This is the layer that is visible. Finally, it is stained and sealed. You’ll only see the layer of hardwood once the floor is installed.
Typically, engineered hardwood floor is indistinguishable from solid plank hardwood, but it consists of much less actual hardwood. That means it is usually more affordable. Also, the layers of plywood, the glue holding it together, and the backing layer serve to make the engineered planks more resistant to absorbing moisture. That means they’re less likely to warp in humid or overly dry environments. An engineered floor is a great balance between beauty and durability.