It’s true what they say, the classics never go out of style. That is why, when it comes to investing in new flooring for your home, real hardwood is always a safe bet. Not only does hardwood make a beautiful, timeless visual statement, you can also expect a return on investment of nearly 80% when it comes time to sell; much higher than installing vinyl, laminate, or carpet.

When searching for hardwood flooring you have two options, solid or engineered, both of which are considered “real” hardwood. The difference between the two comes in the construction of the plank. From a visual aspect you would be unable to tell whether a floor is engineered or solid without being able to inspect its structure.

Solid hardwood, as its name suggests, means that each plank is made from a solid piece of wood that is ¾″ thick. Plank width for solid wood flooring can vary depending on style; traditional solid planks are 2 ¼″ to 3 ¼″ wide, while modern solid planks can be up to 5″ in width. Conversely, engineered wood flooring is comprised of several layers of plywood finished with a top veneer of real hardwood. Engineered planks are generally ½″ thick with widths up to 7″.

You may think, upon hearing the make-up of engineered planks, that they would be the less superior option of the two. However, engineered wood flooring was actually created to combat the issues that plagued solid plank. By using multiple, quality ply layers set in opposing directions, engineered wood is better able to maintain its structure when faced with temperature, humidity, and moisture variations. This means less expansion and contraction throughout seasonal changes and less sensitivity to mishaps like spills.

Another positive for engineered planks is the variety of ways in which installation can be handled. Solid plank should be nailed into a wooden subfloor and never installed in basements. Alternatively, engineered planks can be nailed, glued, or floated over existing flooring, and are rated for basement installation.

Where engineered wood does falter is in its ability to be refinished. While solid planks can be sanded and refinished five times or more throughout its life, the ability to refinish engineered plank is entirely dependent on the thickness of the hardwood veneer. Some high-quality engineered planks have a veneer thickness of 3+ mm that can handle two or more refinishes. More typical, however, is a much thinner veneer layer of 1 or 2 mm that can only withstand one refinish and should only be trusted to a professional.

Regardless of which you select, you should be aware that hardwood requires upkeep in maintaining its appearance. Wood floors are notorious for scratching and gouging and should be handled delicately; the suggested use of protective pads under furniture legs, caution and protective measures taken when moving large items, floor mats or area rugs at entry ways to reduce outside debris, wood specific cleaners, etc. Be sure to ask your retailer for the manufacturer’s care and maintenance guide specific to your floor.

Hardwood floors are an investment in terms of both cost and maintenance, but when handled with care, these floors can bring a lifetime of beauty and added equity into your home that can be enjoyed for generations.

Stop by our showroom today to see our huge selection of hardwood and other flooring options!