Solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring? This is perhaps the most common question facing anyone looking to lay a new floor in their home. In truth it has never been easier, or more cost effective, to achieve the perfect finish but deciding whether to lay down an expensive solid wood floor or to go with the modern equivalent of engineered wood flooring, still needs careful consideration.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid wood flooring, also known as real wood, is typified by its quality and comes in endless variations of colour and thickness to suit any theme from ultra-modern to vintage. Solid wood adds distinction to a room and more often is used to boost a home's value and appeal. Real wood flooring typically comes in 18mm-20mm thicknesses and is cut from a single piece of wood, either uncut or manufactured with tongue-and-groove cuts for easier fitting. Popular species used for solid wood flooring include:

  • oak
  • pine
  • karri
  • jarrah (eucalyptus)
  • Canadian maple

They come in varieties of widths from narrow strip to wide planks and parquet. The list can get very exotic as your budget increases to include some staggeringly expensive options that include; acacia, hickory, mahogany and even Brazilian cherry. There is also a rising trend toward using reclaimed wood rather than new, as it is environmentally friendly and adds a distinct, vintage character.

  • Solid wood looks fantastic
  • Provided it is installed correctly and cared for, it will remain durable
  • Will add value and appeal to a property
  • Can be expensive
  • Solid wood can swell in the winter and shrink in the summer
  • Harder to fit as it needs to be glued or nailed and boards can change their shape slightly.

Tip: All wood has a set toughness rating that can tell you a lot about its properties and its ideal applications. Yellow pine is at the bottom end of the scale with a rating of around 690 on the Jenka scale while Brazilian cherry is one of the toughest woods with a rating of 2350.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood has become extremely popular as it is both cost effective and extremely easy to fit using either tongue-and-groove or click-lock designs. Most strips of engineered wood flooring consist of three or four inner layers that build up the plank, with around 4mm of solid wood veneer on top. It has fulfilled a demand from customers who want to achieve a flooring that is much more tactile than laminate but perhaps do not want to spend out on expensive solid wood. They may also want something that is more environmentally friendly as it requires a lot less hardwood to create.

Engineered wood often chosen over solid wood as it is much less prone to swelling. On the surface, engineered oak flooring appears identical to solid wood and resemble long strips of preassembled wooden floors. It's only when you examine the underneath or the cross section that you'll see the difference in the structure. For most floors without any kind of underfloor heating installed, an adhesive such as Unisil is usually fine to secure the new boards, while concrete usually requires a liquid primer as well. Floating engineered wood (or longstrip) is laid to sits in a slightly raised position above the sub-floor on an underlay grid, raising the wood up to help protect them from any rising moisture.

  • It is generally more stable than solid wood after manufacturing
  • Cheaper and quicker to fit than solid wood
  • Much more attractive then laminate and has a better feel
  • Comes either as tongue-and-groove or a fast click-lock cuts.
  • Adds less to the value of a property than solid wood.