Hardwood Flooring Types
With so many beautiful and durable hardwood options, choosing one for your project is exciting—and it can also be a challenge. Understand the differences and similarities between the two types of hardwood, and you’ll be one giant step closer to nailing down (no pun intended) the right flooring for your home.
Solid hardwood is considered by many homeowners to be the “gold standard” in flooring. Constructed from one solid piece of 100% hardwood, it’s known for its durability, authenticity and timelessness. Bruce solid hardwood is made in the USA with fine American craftsmanship, and primarily sourced from the Appalachian region, where hardwood is prized for its stability, color consistency and refined grain.
Engineered hardwood is made of layers with 100% natural wood on top, wood on the bottom, and a highly stable core in the middle. The core consists of 5 to 7 layers of plywood, pressed together in a crisscrossed pattern. It’s what makes engineered hardwood less likely to shift, expand or contract when exposed to environmental changes in temperature, moisture and humidity.
Style and Species
Solid hardwood is available in Oak, Maple and Hickory, the species that are hardest and most resistant to wear. With a variety of widths up to 5″ and an abundance of colors and textures, you’ll discover many ways to bring personal style to your space.
Engineered hardwood offers many of the same design options as solid. Additionally, you may find designs that are only possible with engineered wood, such as softer exotic species, specialty textures, certain surface treatments, color effects and extra-wide planks.
Solid hardwood performs best in above-ground spaces, such as living and dining areas, kitchens and bedrooms. We do not recommend installing solid in bathrooms or laundry rooms where water and humidity can be a problem.
Engineered hardwood can go in the same rooms as solid hardwood, but its engineered construction also makes it a great choice for basements and over radiant heating and concrete floors. (Still, avoid bathrooms and laundry rooms.) Because engineered flooring is slightly thinner than most solid hardwood, it can also be good for projects where your hardwood needs to match the height of an adjoining floor or accommodate a thin space beneath kitchen appliances.
Solid hardwood durability is mostly dependent on the product’s species and level of protective finish. Choose harder woods like Oak and Hickory for greater dent resistance and products with our Lifetime Finish for better scratch resistance. Generally you can rely on solid hardwood to stay strong for many years, even through several rounds of sanding and refinishing. (Not that you’ll necessarily want or need to redo them!)
Engineered hardwood can also be sanded and refinished several times if the top layer is thick enough, though not typically as many times as solid hardwood. Like solid, those products that have a Lifetime Finish will withstand scratches the best. If moisture, humidity or temperature are a concern—like in basement installations—you’ll definitely want to choose engineered over solid hardwood.
Solid hardwood, as the name suggests, has a solid sound and feel underfoot.
Engineered hardwood has the potential to sound more hollow when you walk on it, especially if you opt for a floating installation. Stapling planks down can make them sound more solid. Premium engineered collections are a bit thicker, so usually sound and feel just like solid hardwood.
Solid hardwood generally comes at a higher price point than engineered flooring, but there are a lot of variables. Having a lifetime warranty, a high level of protective finish, a specialized texture or an artistic staining technique can all elevate the total cost.
Engineered hardwood is usually less expensive until you get into premium collections, which are more comparable to solid hardwood. These may offer better durability, have a thicker top layer that allows for more sanding and refinishing, or have unique designs.