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The Ultimate Wood Floors Guide: Natural vs. Created

So now you’ve begun to think about your interior design’s wood floor style and should have an idea developing of what you’re looking for: species of wood, installation style, plank width, and overall finish. The final step is to decide whether you’d like to go with engineered floors or hardwood floors. Don’t worry; both floors are made of real wood. The big difference is that hardwood flooring is made of completely solid pieces of wood, while engineered floors are built up layers of different wood species all compressed together.

When it comes to solid hardwood floors, there are many pros and cons. Solid hardwood is typically what people picture when they imagine having wood floors. With each plank made from a solid piece of wood, it looks as classic as can be. No two pieces will look quite the same (but would you really want them to?) and the floors can be sanded down and refinished, so even if your style changes through the years, you won’t have to worry about having your floors completely redone each time.

As beautiful as solid hardwood floors are, there are several downsides. Because the wood is one solid piece, it is more prone to expanding and contracting, and is more sensitive to moisture and temperature fluctuations. It’s also definitely not recommended as a DIY project; solid wood flooring can be very tricky to install even in the most basic of patterns.

On the other hand, there’s also engineered hardwood. Despite what the name might suggest, engineered hardwood is still actual wood. However, instead of being a solid piece of wood, each plank is multiple layers compressed together. A big pro of these floors is that they can be easily installed if you’re going for a DIY approach. They’re also less sensitive to moisture and temperature fluctuations and won’t expand and contract throughout the year.

There are, however, still cons to engineered floors. Because engineered hardwood tends to be precreated and not cut planks, it can be harder to customize the installation style, so you might not be able to do the nontraditional lay pattern you’d been dreaming of. Additionally, because of the nature of engineered flooring, it is not always possible to sand and refinish these floors. Some engineered hardwood has the ability to be sanded and refinished once or possibly twice, but some doesn’t have the ability at all.

Our suggestion? The solid hardwood will win out over the engineered flooring in almost every situation. The ability to adapt over the years and the amount of flexibility and longevity that comes with it makes any possible difference in cost more than worth the money. Each time it is refinished to suit the new design direction of the home, you’re getting more bang for your buck and the only thing that will ever ruin your floor is water and pet stains.

One of our favorite interior design projects in Bryn Mawr, PA on the Main Line, Modern Classic Main Line Interior, is an amazing example of how we incorporated an incredible solid hardwood floor into a room.

Like this article? Check out our main Wood Floors Guide to get more tips on how to design your dream wood floors or request an interior design consultation to talk to Christina Henck about how Henck Design can help you and your home!