You’ve decided you want wooden flooring – that’s one issue solved.  But perhaps that’s raised another dilemma – whether to fit solid hardwood flooring (such as oak flooring) or an engineered wood. Here’s our quick guide to the pros and cons of each.

Hardwood vs engineered wood – what’s the difference?

Hardwood flooring (or solid wood flooring) is simply natural timber from trees such as oak, maple or ash, sawn to suitable lengths and thicknesses.

Engineered wood flooring is made from layers of wood bonded together using adhesives and high pressure. There are two main types:

  • Three layer engineered wood comprises a base layer (usually pine), a middle layer (typically birch plywood) and a top layer of hardwood.
  • Multi-layer engineered wood comprises several layers of plywood or similar material, again with a top hardwood layer. However, in multi-layer floors, this veneer is thicker than that found in three layer floors.

Now let’s look at some head-to-head comparisons.

Durability and maintenance

Both hardwood and engineered wood flooring can be considered hard-wearing compared to many other flooring materials. However, solid hardwood has the edge over its engineered rival, with well-treated hardwood floors lasting for decades. This is something to bear in mind when purchasing engineered flooring – although it’s cheaper, other things being equal, you may end up replacing it sooner.

Having said that, in humid conditions, engineered woods often fare better in the long run than traditional wooden floors. This is due to the effectiveness of their water-resistant coating.

Over time, wooden floors can benefit from re-sanding, and here is where solid floors really score. As only the top layer of engineered woods is a hardwood, they will not bear multiple re-sandings. This is especially true for three layer flooring, as the veneer is thinner than that used in multiple layers.

In terms of daily maintenance, there is little to choose between the different options.

Cost and installation

Hardwood flooring loses out twice in this comparison. Although prices vary widely for both options, hardwood is generally more expensive than engineered flooring. Hardwood is also more difficult and time-consuming to fit. Higher fitting costs will again add to your initial outlay.

The one strength of hardwoods in this comparison is that, as mentioned above, they tend to last longer. This has to be weighed against the intial costs.

Its worth noting that although engineered wood is easier to fit, we still recommend using an expert fitting service with a proven track record. The quality of installation can make a huge difference to how your new flooring looks.

Suitability for underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is a neat and increasingly popular option for keeping your home warm. How do hardwoods and engineered woods fare? There’s some debate over whether hardwood flooring is a suitable choice for an underfloor heating installation. It’s often argued that only engineered wooden floors work well with underfloor heating. However, some companies disagree, claiming that it depends on the type of solid floor chosen, how well maintained the floors are and other factors.

One thing’s certain: the safe choice that everyone agrees can work well with underfloor heating is engineered wood.


When it comes to looks, there’s little to choose between the two options. Remember that the top layer of an engineered wood is real hardwood. As this is all that’s visible once the flooring is laid, effectively what you will see is a hardwood floor.

Final thoughts

Thats it for our quick three-minute comparison. Although engineered wood seems to score in a number of categories, for some houseowners, solid wood flooring has an appeal that goes beyond practical considerations. Maybe it’s because they like to know that the material in their home is more ‘natural’ and produced using techniques that are centuries old, and that gives a feeling of authenticity they’re prepared to pay that bit extra for.

If neither option really appeals, and you’re left looking for a less expensive alternative to hardwood or engineered wood, you could also consider laminate flooring.

If you would like further advice on what sort of flooring best suits your needs, get in touch. We’re experts at what we do, and supply and fit all types of flooring in Calne, Chippenham, Bath, Swindon and beyond.