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Engineered Hardwood Floors vs. Solid Hardwood Floors

Engineered hardwood floors offer several advantages over solid hardwood floors, including enhanced durability, easier installation, and greater sustainability. Composed of multiple layers with a hardwood veneer on top, engineered hardwood is more stable and resistant to environmental changes. This stability allows for larger plank sizes without the risk of warping. Additionally, engineered hardwood uses less raw material, making it a more sustainable option. The layered construction also provides excellent resistance to moisture, making it suitable for areas like kitchens. Overall, engineered hardwood floors combine practicality, beauty, and eco-friendliness.
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Hardwood floors never go out of style, creating a cozy atmosphere and exuding beauty. If you have decided to install this material in your home, you may now be facing another question: choosing between engineered hardwood floors and solid hardwood floors. Each type of wood flooring brings its own set of characteristics and benefits to the table, making the decision significant in the overall aesthetics and longevity of your space. However, there are several reasons – from maintenance to sustainability – to choose engineered hardwood floors. 

Here, we delve into the details of engineered hardwood floors versus solid hardwood floors, providing a comprehensive understanding of the durability, installation, and sustainability factors that set them apart: 

Manufacturing process

“People hear the word engineered and they automatically assume that it’s some kind of plastic or a man-made product”, explains AIA Miami vice-president, Wesley C. Kean, “but that has nothing to do with it. Engineered refers to how the product is actually built”. Engineered hardwood floors are composed of multiple layers. The top layer is a relatively thin veneer of hardwood, like European oak. Also referred to as the wear layer, this is the part of the floor that you see when the finished floor is installed. “That’s called “wear layer” because it’s what you’re eventually going to be walking on top of”, adds Kean. 

“Engineered hardwood floors are composed of multiple layers. The top layer is a relatively thin veneer of hardwood, like European oak.”

This part of the floor might have a certain level of hardness for the floor to be as resistant as possible. So, it is around 1 to 6 mm of wood. “This makes it a much more stable product in general, allowing to get larger dimensions of planks without risk of warping through the conditions”, Kean explains.

Installation

Engineered hardwood floor is easier to install because it’s a lighter product than a solid thick piece of wood. Above the top layer there is the core layer also known as the bottom layer, which gives the floor its dimensional stability. Many companies tend to use plywood for the core. “The way they make the plywood is in a crossed direction, ensuring optimal stability for the plane”, says Kean. There are also some companies that use solid pieces of core of a less dense, less more lightweight species such as Poplar or pine. The construction of engineered hardwood floors allows for larger plank sizes, such as 14 inches wide by 12-14 feet long, making it a popular choice for modern flooring applications. 

Solid wood, as the name suggests, is made from a single piece of hardwood because a certain level of hardness is needed if you’re going to  be used as floor. 

Durability

Engineered hardwood floors offer greater resistance to changes compared to solid wood. The layered construction enhances stability and reduces the impact of water, moisture, and environmental changes, making it a more reliable option for areas prone to fluctuations in conditions. According to Kean, high-end engineered products receive in between each plywood layer a D4 adhesive which is extremely moisture resistant. This gives extra protection to the product.

Solid hardwood flooring, being a thick piece of wood, reacts significantly to water, moisture, and environmental changes, making it less stable in the long run.

 

Sustainability

Engineered wood flooring often presents a more sustainable option compared to solid wood flooring due to its efficient use of materials. By utilizing a thin top layer of high-quality wood, such as European Oak, over layers of marine-grade birch plywood, engineered hardwood minimizes waste while maintaining the visual appeal and durability of solid hardwood flooring. By the way, this is the way RIVA Spain manufactures its engineered hardwood floors offering an eco-friendly product which needs less raw material than solid wood.

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The layered construction of engineered wood enhances stability and reduces the impact of water and moisture, allowing installation even in kitchens. In this house, RIVA MAX 10”, Earth color, Character grade.

GRADING

Learn about our wood grading.

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FIREWOOD

The upper section of the tree is used for firewood, which may not be suitable for flooring due to higher branch density and smaller trunk size.

CHARACTER

Our character grade comes from the middle part of the tree. This part has a visual appeal and some knots but avoids the large holes of the top part. We refer to our character grade as “light character”.

SELECT

Our select grade comes from the bottom part of the tree and is the youngest wood, which results in the absence of knots and a sleek appearance.

SELECT

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CHARACTER

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