Solid hardwood flooring in a rustic American home

Engineered Wood vs. Solid Hardwood

With more people spending time at home, renovations have exploded during the COVID pandemic. And wood flooring installation continues to increase in popularity. This is the case for rooms, such as bathrooms or kitchens, where they have traditionally been less common.

If you are building, buying, or renovating a home, you may be wondering about the differences in engineered wood and hardwood floors. Although they are both made of wood, they are very different in design, construction, and price. It can be difficult to know which is the best choice for your home.

Fortunately, the distinctions between engineered and hardwood floors are easily broken down. Once you understand the pros and cons of each, you can make an informed decision about your project. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about the two products.

Engineered Wood vs Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring is made entirely from solid wood boards. Typical types of wood include maple, oak, and walnut.

Engineered wood flooring has a surface veneer of real wood on top of several layers of wood fibers that are glued together. The most common base layer for engineered wood flooring is plywood.

Both solid hardwoods and engineered flooring are easy to clean and care for. Since they both have the same wood surface, one does not have an advantage over the other in terms of maintenance. With both, you should use an approved wood cleaner when mopping.

Now, for the distinctions. Here are the ways in which each product differs for each category.

Look and Style

Natural hardwoods offer a natural look to your flooring. And there are many different types of hardwood and finishes to produce a distinct look for your floors. Although engineered floors offer a wider variety of colors and design choices.

Another issue of aesthetics has to do with fit. Solid hardwood tends to come in long planks that are often engineered with tongues and grooves so that they can fit snugly together. Then, the boards are nailed down to the subfloor.

This creates a much tighter configuration that prevents gapping between boards. And some engineered wood floors have this same design and engineering. But most come with locking edges that can loosen and produce small gaps between boards over time.


In general, hardwoods edge out composite wood flooring in durability. With proper care, some hardwood floors can last up to 100 years or more. You can expect engineered hardwood floors to have a shorter lifespan, around 30 to 40 years.

The strength of natural wood floors will vary with the type of wood used. Hickory is one the hardest kinds of wood available and known for its endurance. Maple and oak are also very hard, followed by walnut and cherry.

Another big advantage of all hardwoods is that you can sand and refinish them over and over again. It may be possible to refinish engineered wood once. But the thinness of the outer wood layer prohibits extensive reworking.

Another thing to consider when choosing between these two flooring types is stability. Both hardwoods and engineered wood flooring hold up well against heat. But hardwoods are more susceptible to expansion and shrinkage with temperature changes and can warp in extremely humid or damp conditions.

Engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, is generally resistant to these changes. This could be an important consideration, depending on the climate in which you live.


The puzzle-like configuration of engineered wood makes it slightly more DIY-friendly for installation. "Floating" engineered floors, that are not nailed down to the subflooring, are the most straightforward to install. You may be able to tackle this one on your own.

Installing hardwoods requires particular expertise and training. It requires cutting boards to fit precisely around walls and corners, as well as anchoring them properly, which is best left up to a trained technician.

It may be best to consult a professional before installing either type of flooring. Besides the flooring layer itself, there could be issues with the subfloor that need to be addressed before proceeding. A professional will ensure the installation is done properly so that your floor will stand the test of time and function as it is intended.

A Good Investment

While installing any type of wood flooring is a smart financial move, hardwoods may have a slight advantage in return on investment (ROI). In fact, of all renovations you can do, installing hardwoods in your home is one of the top ways to increase its value.

Hardwoods have an average of 106 percent ROI. In other words, across the board, when people install hardwoods in their home and then sell it, the renovation makes them money.

Note that, at an initial glance, it can be difficult to distinguish between engineered and solid hardwoods. For buyers simply looking for wood flooring, the distinction may be inconsequential.

But for discerning realtors and buyers, solid hardwoods often add extra appeal due to style and longevity. This may be a factor if you think you may sell your house down the road.

Select the Right Flooring for Your Home

Now that you have an idea of how engineered wood stacks up against hardwood flooring, you can make an informed decision about the best product for your home. Weigh all the options with what you intend to use the room for, and plan accordingly.

At National Floors Direct, we sell and install a wide variety of flooring products. We can provide you with further information about what type of flooring may be best for your home based on your lifestyle and budget.

We only carry premium products from the top manufacturers. So, whatever flooring you choose, you know it will be the highest quality and craftsmanship. We provide free estimates, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out.