The difference between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood is obtrusive, yet an engineered hardwood floor is, if not equally but not too less popular and installed in many houses. A hardwood floor is an expensive desire, and an engineered hardwood floor is a less costly reality of that expensive dream.
For those who cannot afford hardwood flooring, the rooms that cannot tackle hardwood floors well, the next option is engineered hardwood for them. Even after having such a close replica, many install hardwood floors even if they cost so much. The reason is the authenticity, the elegance, and the posh vibe hardwood provides to a surface.
So, if it comes to a thorough comparison to the real and replica, many will choose the real, of course, no matter how good the copy is. The below discussion will all be about the pros and cons of engineered hardwood floors. We will start with the cons first.
Disadvantages of Engineered Hardwood Floor
All these engineered hardwood floor disadvantages might make us appreciate hardwood flooring even more. And even after knowing the weaknesses, if you are willing to install engineered hardwood floors, it implies you want it whole-heartedly as your floor.
Discussing the disadvantages will remove your confusion, and the deciding factor will be much more crisp and confident.
Engineered hardwood floor is a multiple-layered floor, and most of the layers are not at all wood. Only the top layer is pure wood. It could be oak, maple, hickory, but not the entire plank, only the top layer; the other layers are made of cheaper materials.
So, no matter how visually stunning it is from the outside, to be the precise top layer, within, its way too low quality than a floor that is entirely oak, maple, ebony, or hickory.
Not Too Low-Priced
Many have this misconception about the engineered hardwood floor that they are low-priced. But the fact is they are not. Yes, using extrinsic woods to build up your floor will be too expensive to afford. But if you are opting for less expensive woods, they cost pretty low. If you are using an ultra-expensive wood layer as the top layer on an engineered hardwood floor, the money it will cost will be way more than a solid wooden floor of less expensive but not so exotic real wood. So, it’s up to you to decide if you want exotic wood even if it’s a thin layer on top, or you will be happy with an entire hardwood plank of domestic hardwood, not ebony or hickory.
A replica will always be of lower quality than the original. So, another disadvantage of an engineered hardwood floor is that it’s made of materials, cheaper one’s layer by layer, and then only a thin 3/8 inches’ layer of wood is used on the top to make it wood-like. Wood-like can never provide the quality and elegance that natural wood does. Neither will it last like a wood. Most importantly, you cannot make use of a damaged engineered hardwood plank when it needs to be replaced. Which, by the way, you can do with a piece of wood. And why that? Due to comparatively low-quality core construction of engineered hardwood floors.
Compare an engineered hardwood floor to a hardwood floor; the latter lasts a century and the former 20-30 years at best. Even a vinyl floor lasts the same, that too, with easy maintenance, way easier than an engineered hardwood floor, so what is the point of installing an engineered hardwood floor. Yes, engineered hardwood floors are also easy maintenance but not as easy as the tile, vinyl, or laminate. The top layer makes the maintenance as meticulous as the hardwood floor.
Not Entirely Water-Resistant
We are searching for a replica not just because they are cheap but also because we want to save our hardwood from moisture. The areas like kitchen and bathrooms cannot have hardwood floors, so many people tend to opt for engineered hardwood planks to keep the floor in these areas similar to the hardwood floor they have installed in the other rooms. Yes, it handles water well but compared to solid hardwood only. An engineered hardwood floor is not entirely water-resistant, let alone being waterproof. It absorbs water, not even slowly like, say, a vinyl does. So, even if you install them in kitchens and bathrooms in place of hardwood, eventually they will warp, bend and whatnot, resulting in an ugly view of those areas. It absorbs water and gets damaged from within more if not sealed. So, the only way you can make the water absorption process slow is by sealing it.
The top wood layer makes the engineered hardwood floor prone to scratches. One wrong move, it will have scratches all over. So, though a replica, you need to take care of it like wood floors. You cannot use harsh chemicals, random cleaning machines, and solutions, can’t scrub vigorously, and be cautious about the tools you are using to remove the stubborn stains. The hassle is a lot. Here is a tip, if you want to keep it scratch-free, install the ones with scratch-resistant topcoats.
Doesn’t Allow Refinishing
You can turn a damaged, dull, old wooden floor into a new one just by sanding and burnishing or refinishing it with wood finishers. That is why even after years after years, it feels like your floor is not getting older. But an engineered hardwood floor slowly and gradually starts losing its sheen, will warp, bend, have scratches, turn hollow from within due to cheaper material layers in the core and moisture retention, and within a decade or two, you will have to replace it as it doesn’t allow refinishing.
Fades in Sunlight
Sunlight is fatal to every floor type, and engineered hardwood floors are among those floor types. With heavy sunlight, your engineered hardwood will lose its original color, turn dull, and will fade. So, the rooms in your house that have direct sunlight entering through windows use window film on the windows there. If you thought carpets would protect the color from the sun, then be ready to see different colors of flooring or several dull spots on your original floor. Either fully carpet the room or just use window films.
Having discussed all the above, we also want to mention that this floor has many advantages too. That is why it is so popular. Compared to hardwood, it might lack in different areas, but compare it to any other floor, and even hardwood in some cases, the flooring will shine through. What are those advantages; let’s find out.
Engineered Hardwood Floor Advantages
The Closest Replica
If there is one floor that stimulates the hardwood floor the best, it is the engineered hardwood floor. The top wood layer brings the wooden vibe just the right way, and none can tell it’s not wood. It mimics the design, pattern, color of the real hardwood so well. Therefore, if you have decided to install a hardwood floor in your home, think about the kitchen area and bathrooms, then just customize the engineered hardwood floor. Use the same hardwood as its top layer. So it will look just like the real hardwood. It will make sure your house has the same floor design. And as it’s the closest replica, you can hardly differentiate, thus will maintain the look in every corner of the house.
Less Pricey Compared to Real Wood
We have talked about engineered hardwood floors, not being too less pricey. But if you are willing to use an ultra-posh and expensive wood like ebony, and do not want to miss the look and elegance of it, custom-make an engineered wood floor with ebony being the top layer. It will cost way less compared to installing a whole plank of natural ebony wood. Ebony, hickory, these are unparalleled, so great that even a thin top layer on the floor will be a wish come true for many.
A Real Wood Layer On Top
Though it is not wood entirely, there is a piece of wood right on top. That piece of wood makes it the closest replica of hardwood and a little pricey, too, compared to laminate or vinyl. But then the looks come alive due to that very layer. Also, when needed, you can sand and refinish the top layer as its natural wood. So the price is worth it considering these factors.
Handles Water, Heat and Moisture Better
Engineered hardwood floor handles water, moisture, heat very well, compared to the real hardwood. Just because you mopped your floor twice a month instead of once in two-three months with a damp mop or forgot to remove standing water only once, it will not immediately start warping or swelling. So, it’s a great alternative to hardwood in areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
Easy and Varied Installation
You can install engineered hardwood floors in varied ways, from using potent adhesive to nails and screwed. It also allows you to lay it loosely over an underlayment. As it is available in different thicknesses, you might think installing it would be difficult. But in reality, engineered hardwood floors are super easy and very quick to install. If you are in cost-cutting mode and decided DIYing, then the planks loosely floating over the under layer would be best and most convenient to do by yourself.
So, if you have decided to install engineered hardwood floors, go ahead. It’s a great option to go with. However, if there is a chance for you to wait and increase the budget a little, then we recommend you installing hardwood rather than the not too low-priced replica.