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Engineered Hardwood vs. Traditional Hardwood Flooring

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Engineered hardwood and traditional hardwood flooring both add beautiful, timeless style to any room. Many people don't realize that while each type of material looks the same, they're actually quite different in terms of the construction process and durability. Learn the key differences between engineered hardwood and its more traditional counterpart, so you can make an educated decision on which option is the best choice for your design project.

Defining Engineered Hardwood Flooring

What Does It Mean and How Is It Different From Traditional Hardwood Floors

Designed to withstand the test of time, engineered hardwood flooring is made up of several layers of wood. The top layer, aka the wear layer, is a thin piece of hardwood typically between 3 to 7 mm thick. The substantial base known as the "core" is made up of multiple layers of plywood or two-layer high-density fiberboard totaling about 12 to 28 mm on average. The layers of wood are bonded together under high-pressure resulting in a durable flooring solution that won’t easily warp or buckle - even when exposed to extreme temperatures or humidity levels.

Benefits of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Durability, Cost-Effectiveness, and Versatility

Engineered hardwood floors offer some benefits that traditional hardwood does not. In addition to incredible durability, engineered hardwood offers more design options, such as wide planks, various wood species, endless color choices, and a multitude of finishes. Engineered hardwood flooring can also be installed over a wide variety of surfaces, including concrete, plywood, laminate subfloor, or radiant heating systems, and is often less expensive than traditional hardwood.

Installing Engineered Hardwood vs. Traditional Hardwood

What You Should Know

Installing engineered hardwood is quite a bit easier and less time-consuming than traditional hardwood. An ideal choice for DIYers, engineered hardwood can be glued, stapled, or floated over many types of subfloors. Traditional hardwood floors must be nailed down to a subfloor, which can be a more complicated process and requires more skill and precision.

Comparing the Appearance of Engineered Hardwood vs. Traditional Hardwood Floors

Which One Best Suits Your Aesthetic

Once installed, engineered hardwood and traditional hardwood offer an almost-identical appearance and feel. Prior to installation, the planks look different. Traditional hardwood is simply solid wood. Engineered hardwood is made up of multiple layers of wood including a plywood base and a thin veneer top layer of solid wood. Both materials can be finished in a variety of colors, rustic or refined grades, and protective surfaces; however, multi-ply engineered hardwood is typically more dimensionally stable meaning it won't easily warp, bow, or cup over time.

Size Comparison

Standard hardwood planks are usually .75" thick, 2.25" to 4" wide, and between 12" to 84" long. Engineered hardwood planks may be thinner but come in a wider range of widths and lengths offering truly unique looks.

Caring for Your Investment

Maintenance Tips for Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Maintaining engineered hardwood and traditional hardwood floors is essentially the same. Regular cleaning and maintaining including sweeping, vacuuming, and occasional mopping with a hardwood floor cleaner is key to keeping both types of floors looking their best. Long-term care, however, varies. Because traditional hardwood is solid wood, it can be sanded and restained many times. Engineered hardwood's thinner wear layer can only be refinished once or twice. That said, the expected lifespan of engineered hardwood still reaches a respectable 30 years. In the instance one of your engineered hardwood planks is damaged beyond repair, simply pop it out and replace it with a new one.

Final Thoughts on Engineered Hardwood Flooring

A Durable, Cost-Effective Investment

When it comes to classic beauty, few flooring options can compete with hardwood. But for those looking to make a truly lasting impression at an affordable price, engineered hardwood floors are quickly becoming the go-to choice.

For more information about our engineered hardwood flooring options, contact us at


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