Selecting Wood Flooring: Solid or Engineered?

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Mar 15, 2023

Different settings have dynamic demands when it comes to flooring. Wood floors deliver unmatched natural beauty within both residential and commercial applications. When selecting wood flooring, there are two choices: solid wood and engineered wood. Read on for a detailed breakdown of the differences between these two types of hardwood flooring.


Solid wood is constructed with one thick cut of wood stretching from the top of each board to the bottom. It is typically ¾ inch thick and milled to be installed tongue-and-groove with nails and/or glue. Standard board width ranges from 4 to 5 inches, but it can be purchased in widths up to 12 inches for specific design applications. A wider board allows for a pristine view of natural grains and knots within the wood. 

Engineered wood is still real wood and appears very similar, but it has a few prominent differences. Engineered wood is constructed with multiple layers, usually between 3 and 9 layers that total less ¾ inches thick. Its top wear layer is the species you are buying and has various thicknesses, while the other layers beneath are likely different species applied in perpendicular directions. Engineered wood is typically installed with staples and/or glue. Board widths range anywhere from 3 to 12 inches, with most common installations featuring 4 to 7 inch boards. Solid and engineered wood flooring offer varying features and benefits, which means there are several factors to consider when selecting the best type of hardwood flooring for your environment.


Homeowners and hardwood flooring contractors alike may select solid wood flooring for optimum durability, but engineered wood flooring offers unique benefits as well. Since engineered flooring consists of multiple cross-grain layers of wood, it has greater wood flooring stability and is less likely to warp or distort in humid and damp conditions. Engineered wood is better equipped to withstand moisture, meaning it can be installed anywhere in the home: above, on, or below grade. Solid hardwood is an excellent choice when installing on and above grade, but according to industry standards, it cannot be installed below grade. For this reason, engineered wood is a primary choice for below grade applications.

Durability and Lifespan

Selecting the wrong type of flooring can lead to costly maintenance and even replacement, which is why it is crucial to install wood flooring that best serves the environment. Solid wood is a safe choice for high traffic and commercial applications. Whether it’s installed in a busy family’s living room or a hotel lobby, solid wood flooring guarantees unmatched durability. One of the main benefits of solid wood is that it can be sanded and refinished multiple times, transforming the appearance of the floor each time. This qualifies solid wood as an ideal solution for longevity, since engineered flooring can withstand limited sanding and refinishing jobs.

Depending on the thickness of its top layer, engineered wood does not offer the same number of opportunities for re-sanding, and some engineered floors are completely incapable of being sanded. While engineered flooring can be installed at any grade, it generally cannot be sanded as many times as solid hardwood flooring.

Engineered wood flooring and hardwood flooring share similar differences in lifespan. With proper routine maintenance, a hardwood floor can last up to 100 years. Engineered wood, on the other hand, usually lasts about half this time before becoming worn. Despite their contrast, both types of flooring are a worthy investment, and it is important that they match the needs of their environment.

Overcoming Challenges with Engineered

"TyKote® is the best solution for engineered wood's sanding limitations."

Basic Coatings® offers a variety of products for beautifying and protecting solid hardwood floors, but we also offer products to help overcome challenges associated with engineered wood. TyKote® is the best solution for engineered wood’s sanding limitations,  creating a no-dust method for refinishing floors when the top layer is too thin for re-sanding. While perfectly suited for engineered wood, TyKote’s system is ideal for any type of hardwood flooring. TyKote is also an excellent choice for flooring with unique characteristics, such as an existing wood floor with an aluminum oxide factory finish. Following application, TyKote creates an intermediate bonding layer between the existing floor surface and the new finish. This means wood floors – including engineered wood – can be granted new life without compromising the integrity of the top layer.

Whether you are finishing a brand-new hardwood floor or refinishing an existing floor, Basic Coatings’ HyperTone stains add personalized style and beauty to hardwood surfaces.  HyperTone Stains are low odor, low VOC, non-flammable stains that can be used in tandem with Basic Coatings’ finishes. HyperTone stains can be used on freshly sanded floors to manipulate the finished color, or they can be mixed with other Basic Coatings finishes to provide a controlled tint. When prepared with TyKote, finishes tinted with HyperTone can be used as the top finish coat on an engineered floor – no sanding required. There are multiple colors available, including primary options, allowing for personalized color choices.

There is much to consider when installing new flooring, whether it is an engineered wooden surface or traditional solid hardwood. Between navigating the layout of a home or commercial space and proper application of tints and finish, wood surfaces present a series of unique challenges.

The Key to Wood Flooring Installation

The timeless appearance of hardwood flooring is extremely desirable.  However, it’s a bit more complicated than a traditional DIY project. From an engineered floor needing a gentle dust-free refinish to the installation of new solid hardwood throughout your home, hiring an experienced hardwood flooring contractor guarantees your floor will be treated with care and professionalism. This preserves your peace of mind and saves time as well as ensures long-term satisfaction with your hardwood flooring investment. Click here to connect with local Basic Coatings certified contractors in your area.