Dated: 11/16/2018

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We have noticed that Edmonton Home Owners love Hardwood Flooring . . . but not all hardwood is created equal.

People are always asking me which one is better - solid hardwood or engineered hardwood? Both have their pros and cons.

Reasons for Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood floors are just that — they’re made from solid wood, generally 3/4 of an inch thick. Each board of solid hardwood flooring is made from a single piece of hardwood. Because it's real wood and it's thick, it can be sanded down and refinished over and over again.

Reasons against Solid Hardwood

The main problem with solid hardwood is the natural expansion and contraction of the wood affected by the humidity in your home. It expands on warm days, when the humidity is higher (like spring and summer when there's more moisture in the air), and shrinks on colder days when the humidity is lower (in the winter when it's drier).

Hiring a Pro to install

Whoever installs solid hardwood floors must have enough experience to leave the right amount of space for hardwood’s natural expansion and contraction. The individual boards can’t be too tight or too loose. If they’re too tight your floor will buckle. If it’s too loose the gaps between the boards will get too wide in the winter.

What is ENGINEERED Hardwood?

It’s constructed of multiple layers of wood, bonded together with adhesives under intense heat and pressure.

Reasons for Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood flooring isn’t affected by humidity as much as hardwood. It doesn’t shrink or expand, which makes it resistant to warping and cupping. And for that same reason it’s considered very strong and stable.

It can also be sanded and refinished — not as much as hardwood, but a few times over a couple decades is fine, depending on the quality. Another reason people love engineered hardwood is its application.

Unlike solid hardwood, engineered hardwood can go over concrete under the right conditions, like in a condo. And some people say it can also be installed below grade too, in a basement, for example, but there is some debate about that.

No matter which Flooring

Hardwood and water don’t mix. If they do there is the potential for mould and water damage. What does that mean for you? Possibly ripping up your new floors and replacing them. That’s why you should never put hardwood in areas where the potential for moisture is high, such as in bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens and even basements.

Should you follow the same guidelines for engineered hardwood? It depends on how much you’re willing to risk. I would never install it in a bathroom or laundry room, but when we talk about kitchens and basements, things aren’t so black and white.

I’ve spoken to a lot of professionals and many of them say that engineered hardwood in the kitchen is fine. As far as wear and tear goes, it can get scratched or dented by falling objects or utensils. But if we’re talking about potential water damage and mould, as long as you wipe up any spills quickly you don’t need to worry.

They also say that engineered hardwood can handle moisture levels found on most basement concrete floors, which usually doesn’t go above 4%. Some engineered hardwood boards allow for air movement between the flooring and the foundation, so if there is any moisture it can dry out. But the basement must be watertight.

Bottom line, if enough water gets into the boards you will run into the same issues you have with solid hardwood. That’s why you never wet mop engineered hardwood floors — or any hardwood floor for that matter.


When choosing your flooring, you need to do your homework. Talk to the pros, ask the right questions and always follow manufacturers’ instructions on proper installation and maintenance.

Video comparing both types






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Anita and Josh MacKinnon

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