Understanding the Difference between Solid and Engineered Hardwood Floors

May 7, 2010

If you have been thinking about having hardwood floors installed and have begun doing a little research you have probably noticed by now that there are solid hardwood floors and engineered hardwood floors. What puzzles many people is what the actual difference between the two is. Understanding what each term actually means can be helpful so here are the basics:

Solid hardwood floors are exactly what their name says they are, solid wood that has not been glued, pressed or otherwise altered in any way. To create solid hardwood planks a tree is cut with a saw into large pieces and then cut again to a specific width (which for flooring purposes tends to be between 2 to 7 inches). These planks are then have notches carved along their sides so that they will fit together perfectly when placed side by side, something that is known as Tongue and Groove.

There are also a couple of different methods for cutting the tree. Plainsaw cutting utilizes all areas of the tree, slicing it in a tight, compact manner. On the other hand both Quartersaw and Riftsaw involves cutting  at an angle from the inside core of the tree to the outside of the tree, a process that is slightly more wasteful as the entire tree is not utilized, but often extremely attractive because of the natural patterns that are uncovered.

Engineered hardwood is created slightly differently. A knife blade cuts the tree from the outside to the inside leaving one long strip of wood, a little bit like peeling the skin off a potato. Several of these strips are then cut to an appropriate size and bonded and glued together to create a plank with a thickness that is usually just under an inch. The final product is then varnished and finished to ensure its durability and enhance its beauty.

When installed, it can be difficult to tell the difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood, as both are beautiful and elegant in appearance as well as very hardy and durable. When making the decision between the two types for most customers it comes down to a simple case of personal preference. But now that you understand the basic difference between them making the choice between solid or engineered hardwood flooring might be a little easier.

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