While looking at flooring options for luxury home design, both homeowners and designers often choose wood flooring. The warmth, character, and elegance it brings to any space are unmatched. However, the question then comes – What to go for? Engineered wooden flooring or Solid wood floors? There’s a prevailing myth in the industry that solid wood floors are inherently more durable than engineered wood floors. Today, we’re going to debunk this myth, illuminating the advances in engineered wood technology and why it can be a superior choice for luxury homes.

The Basics: Solid Wood vs. Engineered Wood

Before we dive into the comparison, let’s clarify what we mean by solid wood and engineered wood floors. Solid wood flooring is exactly what it sounds like: each plank is a single, solid piece of wood, typically 18 mm or ¾” thick. Engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, is 100% real wood too, just constructed in a different manner. See the image below or read this blog for more details. This unique structure was engineered to solve the problem of too much expansion and contraction in wood floors, hence the name “Engineered” wood floors. It is this structure that gives engineered wood its superior stability and resistance to environmental changes.

Engineered Wood Flooring vs Solid Wood Flooring!

Bottom: Solid Wood Flooring Cut-piece
Middle and Top: Engineered Wood Flooring Cut-Pieces (three layered and multi-ply layered)

Moisture Resistance and Stability

One of the biggest challenges with solid wood floors is their susceptibility to moisture and temperature changes. They tend to expand and contract, which can lead to warping, cupping, or cracking. Engineered wood floors, due to their multi-layer construction, are significantly more stable and less prone to these issues. This makes them especially suitable for luxury homes in regions with fluctuating climates or for installations over radiant heating systems.

Let’s visualize this with an example. Picture a beautiful, expansive living room with large windows and natural light pouring in. If there is not proper ventilation, during certain seasons, these rooms can become humidity traps. Considering that AC has not been working for a substantial period of time, in a solid wood floor, the boards may begin to expand more than normal and may even cause buckling. However, in a similar situation, a good quality engineered floor, constructed and installed properly, will show more stability and tolerance preserving the room’s immaculate appearance. However, this is not to say that engineered wood floors do not need the right environment to perform at their best. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in this regard.

A buckled solid wood floor!

Photo credit – © Kaltimber

Durability and Longevity

When it comes to the wear layer (the top layer that you walk on), engineered wood floors can be just as durable as solid wood floors. The thickness of the wear layer on high-quality engineered wood can vary, allowing for several sandings and refinishing over the years, much like solid wood. If you think that you will be needing a lot of sandings, consider an engineered wooden floor with a thicker top layer and an excellent base (a high quality, marine grade plywood such as Birch or a full hardwood 3 layered structure such as Oak/Birch/Oak or Oak/Birch/Birch or Oak/Oak/Oak). However, engineered wood floors have the added advantage of being able to handle moisture and temperature changes better, which can actually extend the life of the floor in certain environments.

A three layered construction of Engineered Wood Floor!

Photo credit – © Coswick

Versatility and Installation

Engineered wood floors offer greater versatility in installation methods, including floating, gluing, or stapling, allowing for easier installation over various types of subfloors, including concrete. This flexibility makes engineered wood an excellent choice for luxury homes that may have different foundation types across various sections of the house.

A floating installation with Elastilon – A great way to install engineered wood flooring!

Photo credit – © Elastilon

A glue-down installation!

Photo credit – © Coswick

In conclusion, the myth that Solidwood floors are more durable than engineered wood floors does not hold up against the advances in engineered wood technology. For luxury homeowners and designers aiming for both elegance and practicality, engineered wood floors offer a much more versatile, stable, and durable flooring solution that meets the demands of modern living. Whether you’re renovating a historic villa or designing a contemporary new build, consider the engineered wood floor not just as an alternative, but as a first choice.