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Engineered Wood Flooring vs. Hardwood: Which is Better?

Posted on : June 11, 2024

Engineered Wood Flooring vs. Hardwood: Which is Better?

Whether hardwood or engineered wood floors, both provide your home with a beautiful, warm, and natural appearance. These flooring options are natural wood products that offer a premium finish to your space. However, there is often a debate about which one is better.

At McClellands Contracting and Roofing, we always bring insights related to the elements of your home, including the roof, windows, and floors. We aim to use our experience to provide you with information so you always choose the best option for your home. 

In this blog post, we will explore engineered wood flooring vs. hardwood flooring so that you can choose what fits your specific requirements. 

What Is Engineered Wood Flooring?

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring is made of a top layer of hardwood (oak, maple, etc.) over multiple underlying layers of less expensive wood like plywood, high-density fiberboard (HDF), or hardwood core planks.

The layers underneath the hardwood top layer provide great structural stability. This makes engineered wood resistant to moisture, preventing it from warping or cupping as easily. It can work well in places like basements or over concrete subfloors where moisture is an issue.

What Is Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is made from various types of wood, such as oak, cherry, or maple.  It offers a very natural look to a living space. Hardwood is created from solid planks of natural wood that are further sanded and polished to create a smooth surface. 

They can be left with natural wood color or stained to create different shades like cherry or walnut. One primary benefit of hardwood floors is that they can last for many years with proper care. They are also attractive and can increase the value of a home. 

Engineered Wood vs. Hardwood Flooring: A Detailed Comparision

Key FeaturesEngineered Wood FlooringHardwood Flooring
Hardwood layer is bonded to plywood or HDF core. 

100% solid hardwood.
Lifespan20 to 30 years30 to 100 years
Cost$4 to $7 per sq. ft.$8 to $15 per sq. ft.
Sanded & RefinishedA 6mm thick layer of hardwood can be refinished 1-3 times, whereas a 3mm thick layer can be only refinished once.
It can be sanded and refinished up to 10 times.
Installation MethodIt can be nailed down, or you can glue the plank on the surface of your floor.Planks are nailed to the subfloor.
Plank Thickness⅜  to 9/16 inches½ to 1 inch
Plank Width2-1/4 to 7 inches2-1/4 to 4 inches 
Plank Length12 to 60 inches 12 to 84 inches 
Scratch ResistanceThey generally resist scratches. But severe scratches can gouge through the layers.Hardwood flooring can equally resist scratches, but deep scratches can be difficult to fix.
Water ResistanceIt is not waterproof but can resist moisture better than hardwood flooring. It can resist moisture, but it is not waterproof. 
Resale ValueLower resale value due to shorter lifespan.Higher resale value due to longevity and wide range of wood types.

Factors to Consider While Choosing The Right Flooring For Your Space

While both of these types of flooring have their own pros and cons, selecting the right option depends on certain factors that you need to consider. 

Ease of Installation

Both engineered wood and hardwood can be challenging for inexperienced installers. Engineered wood planks are usually installed by nailing or gluing them into a wood subfloor. Hardwood can be nailed down, making it slightly more versatile for installation over different subfloor materials.


Hardwood flooring can be refinished multiple times, and depending on the type of wood used, the number of times it can be sanded can differ. On the other hand, engineered wood can only be refinished once or twice, depending upon the thickness of the hardwood layer at the top. Hardwood flooring has a longer lifespan than engineered wood flooring.   

Maintenance and Cleaning

When it comes to maintenance, both hardwood and engineered wood require similar routine cleaning using a vacuum, dry mop, or wood floor cleaner. Hardwood may need refinishing more often as the surface can wear down faster over time.

Both types of floors can be affected by standing moisture or water leaks, so spills should be cleaned up promptly. However, engineered wood generally holds up better against moisture thanks to its layered construction.

Aesthetic Options

Hardwood floors offer a wider variety of wood species and aesthetic options since they are made of 100% solid wood planks. You can find many different colors, grains, and textures. Engineered wood has limited options since the top veneer layer is relatively thin.

Installation Location

While both floor types can be installed on any level of the home, engineered hardwood may be preferable in areas like the kitchen or basement due to its increased resistance to moisture. 

Solid hardwood can swell and distort if exposed to excessive moisture, so it is not usually installed in every room of the home. However, both of these options are not recommended for spaces like bathrooms. 

Also Read: 5 Best Flooring Options For Bathroom Remodeling In 2024


If you have pets at home, hardwood flooring may be better than engineered wood. With real hardwood floors, damage such as pet scratches can be sanded out and repaired so the floors look as good as new. 

Engineered wood floors have a slim layer of hardwood. If pets make deep, heavy scratches, they can be very difficult to fix. The deep scratches may go through the hardwood layer and show the cheaper wood underneath. With solid hardwood, you can sand down the planks to remove scratches without exposing a different material below.

Environmental Impact

If environmental factors are important to you, consider that engineered wood utilizes more renewable wood resources than solid hardwood planks. Many companies use sustainable harvesting and recycled materials.

Engineered wood products often incorporate wood waste and by-products from other manufacturing processes, reducing waste and maximizing resource utilization. Additionally, some manufacturers prioritize responsible forestry practices and obtain certifications for their sustainable sourcing methods. 

Final Thoughts

For most homeowners, engineered wood flooring makes the most sense. It provides the beauty of real hardwood while offering affordability, moisture resistance, and a medium installation difficulty.

The major downside is a shorter lifespan than solid hardwood floors. If you plan to live in your home long-term and want flooring that can last for a longer duration with refinishing, hardwood may be the wiser investment despite the higher price tag.

Call McClellands Contracting and Roofing For Floor Remodeling In Pittsburgh, PA 

At McClellands Contracting and Roofing, we are creative, professional, and efficient. If you want to install new flooring or replace the existing one in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, we are the best home contractor for all your interior renovation needs. We are experts in customizing durable, affordable home remodeling services. 

You can also count on us for smaller projects like replacing or installing new floors. Our skilled contractors will ensure quality workmanship and reliable floor installations. Call us at (412) 353-5660 to talk about your home project with our remodeling experts. We'll work with you to understand your vision and provide a solution that fits your needs, lifestyle, and budget.

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