Cost of Engineered Vs. Hardwood Floors

It's hard to tell whether this is real or engineered hardwood flooring.

It's hard to tell whether this is real or engineered hardwood flooring.

Choosing your hardwood floor is more complicated today than it once was. For years, your only choice was solid wood planks, with tongue and groove connections and your options were mainly type of wood and color. You can still use solid hardwood, but you also can choose engineered hardwood. That's a sort of plywood, made of layers of wood with only the top one a hardwood surface.

Costs Can Be Similar

Either solid wood or engineered hardwood can cost you between $7 and $12 a square foot, depending on the type of wood, thickness of the planks and other variables. Engineered hardwood often is cheaper to install because it can be fastened with adhesives and does not require nailing individual planks.

Uses Differ

Engineered flooring is suitable in many locations where hardwood is difficult or impossible to install. Engineered hardwood can be installed directly on concrete slabs, for example, while solid hardwood must be nailed to a wooden subfloor. Engineered flooring also is less subject to warping and moisture problems.


Solid wood flooring will last for decades and can be refinished many times, while engineered flooring usually can be refinished a limited number of times because its top layer is thin. Engineered flooring also can vary more in appearance, depending on whether the top layer is a rotary cut, sliced around a log, or a flat cut, sliced the length of the log like solid hardwood. A flat cut is more expensive.

Costs Vary

The cost of either solid or engineered hardwood flooring will vary with the type of wood. White oak is the most common flooring wood and generally the cheapest, but additional oaks, maple and other varieties of tree are used for flooring. The more exotic the wood, the higher the price, whether it's solid or engineered.

Type of Engineered Wood Affect Cost

Engineered flooring costs vary more widely, depending on the construction. Some engineered flooring has wood composites in the center, with a veneer on top. Other styles have three to five individual layers of real wood. Higher quality and more expensive flooring has more layers of real wood and a thicker finish layer. It generally is comparable in cost to solid hardwood.

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About the Author

Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.

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