Engineered Wood And Hardwood Differences: Which Is Better?

Article - engineered wood or hardwood
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Wooden floors are certainly a classic look in any home, but as they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat! These days, engineered wood is becoming more and more popular as an alternative to traditional hardwood floors. But what are the engineered wood and hardwood differences, and is one really better than the other? Read on to find out!

Engineered Wood and Hardwood Difference #1: Structure

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Engineered wood and hardwood look almost exactly the same on the surface, but that’s as far as their similarities go! You see, while hardwood floors are solid wood all the way through, the layer of solid wood ends right below the surface in engineered wood. Below this layer, the solid wood is attached to layers of plywood by a very strong adhesive.

Engineered Wood and Hardwood Difference #2: Cost

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At about $40 SGD per square foot, hardwood is known to be one of the most expensive types of flooring in Singapore. The cost of engineered wood can vary greatly depending on its quality, but it is generally a cheaper option compared to hardwood. The estimated cost is about $14 per square foot.

Winner: Engineered wood

Engineered Wood and Hardwood Difference #3: Durability

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Over time, scratches and wear and tear will inevitably show up on the surfaces of hardwood and engineered wood floors. Now, in both floors, this damage can easily be fixed by sanding down the damaged wood, and giving the floors a fresh new finish. But since engineered wood only has a thin layer of solid wood before you hit plywood, it can’t be sanded down as many times hardwood. This means that engineered wood tends to last only about 15 years before they need to be replaced, whereas well-maintained hardwood floors can last a lifetime.

Winner: Hardwood

Engineered Wood and Hardwood Difference #4: Installation

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True hardwood floors have a pretty difficult and long installation process: each wooden plank needs to be nailed down individually. You would also need to factor in more time for the wood finish to dry. Engineered wood floors, on the other hand, can be installed in a variety of ways: in addition to being nailed down, engineered wood planks can also be glued down or just fit into adjacent planks. Engineered wood planks are generally finished before installation as well, which makes installation a much easier and shorter process.  

Winner: Engineered wood

Engineered Wood and Hardwood Difference #5: Resistance to Weather Conditions

Singapore is known to have extremely hot weather all year round. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity can really take a toll on hardwood floors. You see, if hardwood floors get seriously wet, either from liquid splashes or by water vapour seeping through the floors, they might start to swell up and get distorted. Alternatively, if your air conditioner is kept on a lot, the wooden planks could also dry out and shrink. However, because the lower layers of engineered wood are made of plywood and strong adhesives, engineered wood is usually a little more resistant to extreme weather conditions.

Winner: Engineered wood

Engineered Wood and Hardwood Difference #6: Investment Potential

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If you’re choosing flooring for a home that you’re planning to sell, then you’re going to want to consider which type of flooring boosts the value of your home the most. The answer between the two: hardwood. Because its lifespan is so much longer than engineered wood and other types of flooring, many buyers and real estate agents place a premium on solid hardwood floors. This means that when you eventually sell your home, hardwood floors might fetch you a better price than engineered wood floors, assuming everything else is equal.

Winner: Hardwood

Engineered Wood and Hardwood Difference #6: Maintenance

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As with all floors, some maintenance is required to keep it looking fresh and clean. Regular waxing is a must to keep wear and tear from showing up on the surface, and frequent checks for termites to ensure that the structural integrity of your floors stay intact.

Overall, which floor is better?

Well, let’s review what we’ve covered so far.

Factors to considerHardwoodEngineered Wood
StructureSolid wood throughoutSolid wood on the top layer, attached to plywood by adhesives below
CostApprox $40 per square footApprox $14 per square foot. Varies.
DurabilityA lifetime if well-maintained15-30 years
InstallationNail down, fresh finish. More difficult and longer.Several methods, pre-finished. Generally easier and shorter.
Resistance to weather conditionsLower resistance. Has a greater tendency to distort in extremely humid or dry environments.Higher resistance due to lower plywood layers and adhesives
Investment potentialHigher due to long lifespanLower due to shorter lifespan
MaintenanceRegular waxing, cleaning, and checking for termites.Regular waxing, cleaning, and checking for termites.
Total points23

Overall, it seems as though engineered wood floors are pulling ahead of hardwood just by a little bit.

A parting note …

However, before you make your decision, one last factor you will want to consider is: how do you, specifically, want to use your floors? Does your place have a lease that’s expiring in the next 100 years? If so, maybe a shorter lifespan of your floor won’t matter so much. Or maybe you want to redo your flooring for the main aim of selling the home in a few years. In this case, you’d place a premium on floors that boost your home’s value. In short, engineered flooring might have pulled ahead of hardwood floors in our standard list, but you need to rank each engineered wood and hardwood difference according to your needs, to make sure you get the flooring that’s perfect for your home.

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