When it comes to selecting hardwood flooring, homeowners often face the choice between engineered and solid hardwood. Each type has its unique benefits and drawbacks, making it important to understand their differences to make an informed decision.

Solid Hardwood Flooring


  • Composition: Solid hardwood flooring consists of single, solid pieces of wood, usually 3/4 inch thick.
  • Durability and Longevity: Solid hardwood is known for its strength and durability. It can be sanded and refinished multiple times, allowing it to last for decades, often over 50 years with proper care.
    Aesthetic Appeal: Solid hardwood offers a natural, warm, and authentic look that many homeowners prefer. It can develop a beautiful patina over time, adding to its character and charm.
    Variety: Available in numerous wood species, colors, and finishes, allowing for a high level of customization.
  • Cost: Solid hardwood is generally more expensive than engineered wood, both in terms of material and installation costs.
    Installation: Installation often involves nailing or stapling to a subfloor, which can be labor-intensive and usually requires professional assistance.
    Moisture Sensitivity: Solid hardwood is susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature, which can cause it to expand or contract, making it less suitable for basements or areas with high moisture levels.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring


Composition: Engineered hardwood consists of multiple layers of wood veneer, topped with a layer of solid hardwood. The layers are glued together in a cross-grain construction.

Stability: The cross-grain construction provides greater stability, making engineered wood flooring less susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature. This makes it suitable for basements and areas with higher moisture levels.
Ease of Installation: Engineered wood can be nailed, stapled, glued, or installed as a floating floor, offering more versatility and often being easier for DIY installations.
Cost-Effective: Typically less expensive than solid wood, both in material and installation, making it a budget-friendly option.

Limited Refinishing: Engineered hardwood can only be sanded and refinished a limited number of times, depending on the thickness of the top layer. This limits its lifespan compared to solid wood.
Perceived Value: Some homeowners may perceive engineered wood as less prestigious than solid hardwood, potentially affecting resale value.
Top Layer Wear: The thinner top layer of solid wood can wear down over time, especially in high-traffic areas, requiring more frequent maintenance or replacement.
The Best Finishes for Wooden Floors
Choosing the right finish for your wooden floors is essential to enhance their beauty and protect them from damage. Here are some of the best finishes available, each offering unique benefits.

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane is a popular finish that provides a durable and protective layer over the wood.

Durability: Highly durable and resistant to wear, scratches, and water, making it ideal for high-traffic areas.
Warm Appearance: Adds a warm, amber glow to the wood, enhancing its natural beauty.
Ease of Maintenance: Easy to clean and maintain, with minimal upkeep required.

Drying Time: Takes longer to dry and cure compared to other finishes, often requiring multiple coats.
Odor: Has a strong odor during application, necessitating good ventilation.

Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane is a clear finish that offers a durable and protective layer without altering the wood’s color.

Clear Finish: Preserves the natural color of the wood, making it ideal for lighter-colored woods.
Quick Drying: Dries faster than oil-based finishes, allowing for quicker application and use.
Low Odor: Emits less odor during application, making it more user-friendly.

Durability: Slightly less durable than oil-based polyurethane, although still highly protective.
Appearance: Does not add the warm glow that oil-based finishes provide.

Penetrating Oil Finishes

Penetrating oil finishes, such as tung oil and linseed oil, soak into the wood, providing a natural and matte appearance.

Natural Look: Enhances the natural grain and texture of the wood, giving it a more organic appearance.
Repairable: Easy to repair scratches and scuffs by simply reapplying the oil to the affected area.
Environmentally Friendly: Generally low in VOCs and more environmentally friendly than synthetic finishes.

Maintenance: Requires more frequent reapplication and maintenance to keep the wood protected.
Durability: Less durable than polyurethane finishes, offering less resistance to wear and water.

Wax Finishes

Wax finishes provide a soft, low-sheen look and are often used in conjunction with oil finishes for added protection.

Soft Sheen: Creates a soft, satin sheen that enhances the natural beauty of the wood.
Touch-Up: Easy to touch up and repair small scratches and scuffs.
Natural Feel: Gives the wood a more natural, less processed feel.

Durability: Less durable than polyurethane finishes, requiring more frequent maintenance and reapplication.
Water Sensitivity: Offers less water resistance, making it less suitable for high-moisture areas.


When deciding between engineered and solid hardwood flooring, consider factors such as stability, installation, cost, and the ability to refinish. Solid hardwood offers unparalleled durability and a timeless look, while engineered wood provides greater stability and versatility, especially in areas with moisture concerns. Choosing the right finish for your wooden floors further enhances their beauty and longevity. Whether you prefer the durability of polyurethane or the natural look of oil or wax finishes, each option offers distinct benefits to suit your style and maintenance preferences. Understanding these options helps ensure your wooden floors remain beautiful and protected for years to come.