Solid or Engineered Oak Flooring – Which to Choose?

Working in the Flooring Waldorf Md industry we often have customers calling us because they are interested in a solid oak floor. More often than not we end up suggesting they go down the engineered route and then being asked the same thing, ‘why choose an engineered wood floor over a solid oak floor and does it really feel and look as beautiful?’

We are writing this article to briefly outline the main advantages of our engineered wood flooring and why now so many people are choosing the engineered over the traditional solid oak flooring. Throughout this article I will write in reference to a top quality engineered oak flooring with multiple layers of ply wood under core and a thick, long lasting wear layer. I can not speak on behalf of all engineered wood floors as they differ massively in quality and price. In all cases you need to check thoroughly the specifications of the product on offer.

So let’s start off this article with talking about the number 1 reason our engineered oak floors have the upper hand over solid oak floors, this being it’s stability. A quality engineered board will be made up of around 10 layers of multi laminated birch ply wood. These layers are stuck in opposite directions with a moisture resistant adhesive and this gives the floor an immense amount of stability. We have been asked before by customers who have researched the market how strong the adhesive is as they have heard of stories of engineered wood flooring de-laminating. However if you go for a quality engineered wood flooring you can even gone as far as to boil a piece of our floor for 30 minutes and the board still will not de-laminate. The 15mm ply wood under core is what gives the flooring the strength and stability is has.

Oak is a natural product and when used for flooring the board widths can change in size. This can cause gaps between boards or the floor to buckle and this movement is most commonly caused by the changing of humidity in the environment. Because of the stability of a quality engineered oak floor it is far less prone to this movement. This stability is also becoming of greater importance today due to the fact that an increasing number of properties are having under floor heating systems installed, which of course causes a frequent change in humidity. Having said this I would again like to reiterate that I am writing in regards to a quality, higher spec engineered oak flooring, and I can not talk for all engineered wood floors.

Let’s move onto another reason why engineered wood flooring is now classed as a superior product to a solid oak floor. The main reason why people will go for an oak floor is that they love the timeless natural beauty that European oak has to offer. What many people are unaware of is the fact that the top layer of a good engineered oak flooring is the same quality European oak as you would find in solid oak flooring. This means that when it has been laid it looks and feels just the same and more and more customers are saying they prefer the look of the longer and wider boards that many engineered wood floors offer.

So, a top quality oak engineered flooring will look the same but will it actually last as long?. How long a floor will last is mostly down to something called its ‘wear layer’. The part of the floor that is classed as the wear layer is from the surface of the board down to the tongue and on a solid oak board this would be around 5-6mm. Now, the wear layer on engineered wood flooring is the top layer of oak. So if you purchase an engineered oak flooring which has a 5-6mm solid oak top layer it will result in the flooring lasting just as long. In conclusion if you want an engineered flooring that is going to last as long as a traditional solid oak floor then make sure it has a nice thick top layer of wood, ideally 5mm+.

Laying the floor is also another area that is worth thinking about when comparing the two types of oak flooring. The majority of engineered wood floors are longer and wider than most solid oak boards because this is the look that most people are wanting nowadays. The flooring being longer and wider means the flooring is quicker to fit. Another aspect that makes this floor easier and quicker to fit is how well machined the boards are.

From our experience in the flooring industry we have had nothing but good feedback regarding how easy our engineered flooring was to lay, and this is down to how well machined the boards are. Given that engineered flooring is quicker and easier to fit, any extra money that is spent on purchasing an engineered oak floor is often compensated in the time that is saved fitting it! This is something to keep in mind when comparing prices.

The final advantage of engineered wood flooring over solid oak flooring that I am gong to mention is how an engineered oak floor is more environmentally friendly. The plywood that is used is made up of fast growing softwoods which are plentiful and this is what the under side of our engineered wood flooring is constructed of. This means that far less of our valued oak, which has taken hundreds of years to grow, is used resulting in a much more environmentally friendly flooring.

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