Engineered hardwood is the new kid on the hardwood flooring block, so to speak. Both traditional and engineered wood floors bring benefits and downsides, as explained below. Read on to figure out whether engineered or traditional solid lumber floors are best for you.
Conventional Hardwood Floors
Solid hardwood floors may be refinished over and over again since they are usually milled to a ” thickness. Traditional wood flooring is cut this way so that the hardwood flooring can later be sanded and re-sealed. Thanks in part to this process, hardwood floors remain beautiful and durable for decades – it’s not unusual for them to last fifty years or longer.
However, there’s also a significant disadvantage of conventional wood flooring: It is affected by water and temperature. Naturally, wood expands in hot/moist settings and contracts in cold/dry conditions. This requires contractors to leave small gaps around the edges of hardwood flooring so that it can expand in the summer. (These gaps are usually hidden with baseboards.)
In addition to potentially unsightly gaps, hardwood flooring can also pose a health threat if not properly cared for. Water can linger in timber floors and cause mold, fungi, and mildew to grow. Not only do these water-lovers destroy wood; they can also cause respiratory diseases including asthma and allergies.
Given the problems that traditional lumber floors have with water, it’s not surprising that they can’t be installed “below grade,” in a basement. Likewise, most contractors will not install lumber flooring in bathrooms or kitchens, some of the most moisture-rich areas in a home. Lastly, timber floors can’t be built directly on concrete, since concrete conducts water. If you have a concrete foundation/pad, you must build plywood subflooring for your wood floors to sit on. Consumers are often put off by these installation limitations.