Sharing my advice on everything from interior design trends to construction and home maintenance guidance. I want you to love the home you live in!
Hardwood flooring is a timeless and classic addition to any home, adding warmth, elegance and durability to your space. However, with various types of wood flooring available, choosing the right one can be a difficult decision! So many factors go into choosing the right fit for you including price point, aesthetics, longevity, and maintenance. My goal for this blog is to get you comfortable with your choices and how to choose the best option for your space!
In this post I’m going to talk you through the following:
While there are a lot of flooring options out there, when it comes to hardwood floors we have two categories: solid hardwood and engineered. Both types of flooring offer a warm and natural look to any home, but there are key differences between the two.
Solid hardwood is made from a single piece of hardwood, such as oak or maple, that has been milled into planks. This type of flooring can be sanded and refinished numerous times over its lifespan, making it a durable and long-lasting option. Solid hardwood is also highly prized for its natural beauty and unique character, as each plank is different and has its own individual grain pattern and color variations.
Engineered hardwood is made up of multiple layers of wood and other materials that are pressed together. The thin top layer is made of real hardwood and is known as the wear layer. The other layers can be made of materials such as plywood or high-density fiberboard. Engineered hardwood floors usually come pre-finished in specific stains and sizes depending on the suppliers. There are a few manufacturers who have a product you can sand and stain yourself, but the number of times you can refinish the product is still limited given the thickness of the top layer.
Solid Hardwood Flooring:
Engineered Hardwood Flooring:
The cost to get wood flooring in your home goes far beyond just the price per square foot you see online or in a showroom. For starters, a subfloor material may need to be installed prior to the hardwood planks. If you’re installing on concrete slab, you will want to install a proper subfloor and vapor retardant for solid hardwood installation. If you’re installing engineered hardwood on a concrete slab, you can skip the subfloor step and install only a vapor retardant underneath your floors.
Then the installation of your flooring comes next. If you choose solid hardwood, the planks will be nailed directly to the subfloor. Engineered hardwood floor installation can vary depending on the product, but typically includes a process of nailing and/or glueing the floor planks. Hardwood flooring can be easier to actually “install”, but it’s definitely subjective to the project.
After installation comes the finishing process (for solid hardwood at least). Once solid hardwood is installed, it’s just raw unfinished wood that needs to be sanded and stained to the clients liking. On the other hand, most engineered products come pre-finished and are ready to enjoy shortly after install. This step is what usually makes solid hardwood installation more costly than engineered products.
Another important cost implication to consider is maintenance of the floors overtime. Over a few years, your solid hardwood floors may begin to look worn or show more scuffs than you care to see. It is recommended to get your solid hardwood floors “refinished” every 3-5 years, which consists of sanding down the existing top finish and reapplying. Engineered hardwood floors typically come with a factory-applied finish that will hold up longer than solid hardwood, BUT it won’t last forever. Due to the thickness of the thin top layer of engineered hardwood, they cannot be refinished over and over again. This is why it is typically noted that engineered hardwood has a lifespan of 30 years whereas solid hardwood has a lifespan of 30-100 years (if maintained well).
The location of your hardwood floors is probably one of the most important factors to consider for multiple reasons. Firstly, solid hardwood floors can be fickle in climates where temperatures fluctuate majorly throughout the year. This can lead to your solid hardwood panels separating in areas and creating visible cracks or creaking when you step on certain spots. Your flooring contractor can fill these cracks with wood filler or add additional nails to help with the creaking, but these are issues to consider for sure. Engineered hardwood floors don’t typically have this same problem due to their base layer being a more flexible material.
Resistance to water may also be a concern of yours if you’re considering hardwood floors for a room such as a kitchen or bathroom. Right off the bat, you can take solid hardwood floors out of the running for “water resistance”. Large unattended spills or constant contact with moisture WILL warp and stain solid hardwood floors. Engineered products have a slightly better “resistance” to moisture, but are not typically referred to as “waterproof”. If you are looking for a wood-like product that can handle moisture better, consider LVP/LVT (laminated veneer planks). I will expand on this product on a later date.
While we’ve considered some major factors, there are still a few that stand out to me when choosing what’s best for my homes or any of my clients. Considering how you actually live in your house and what is practical for your lifestyle is a big one. If you have little ones or pets, an engineered product may be more suitable because it is initially manufactured to take on more wear and tear (though overtime solid hardwood will outperform because it can be refinished).
Considering the history and context of a home may be important to you as well. If you are restoring a century old home, solid hardwood floors may fit the historic charm of the home where something more pristine and uniform may feel out of context.
If you’re updating a short or long term rental property, using an engineered product may be the best option from a cost and maintenance perspective.
On our properties, Patrick (my husband) and I have done all of the above! Our personal house has 100 year old refinished hardwood floors and new solid hardwood floors we added to match the existing.
We’ve also installed beautiful engineered hardwood products from companies such as Mohawk and Hill Country that our clients have loved. I could definitely write a follow up post of some engineered hardwood products I recommend!
In our most recent fixer upper, the Klein House, we used a higher end engineered product from Teckton that comes unfinished. I did a custom finish on them (pictured above) that I will elaborate in my next post so look out for that next week!
In conclusion, the right wood flooring for your home will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Consider the pros and cons of each option, your budget, your lifestyle, and desired look and feel before making your final decision. Putting this upfront thought into your decision will ultimately help you to love your home for years to come!
Love, Christian <3