Stuck between a rock and a hard place when deciding “which is better hardwood or engineered”? You’re not alone. Choosing the right flooring for your home requires significant thought and an understanding of the differences and benefits of each option. Flooring is not just about aesthetics; it must withstand the test of time, foot traffic, spills, and even our furry friends.

At California Flooring and Design, we often meet homeowners grappling with the choice between solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring. Both options bring the warmth and elegance of natural wood to your home, but they vary in terms of construction, durability, cost, maintenance, and installation methods.

To give you a snapshot, here’s a brief comparison:

Solid Hardwood Engineered Wood
Material 100% Wood A thin slice of natural wood on top of multiple layers of plywood
Durability Very durable, can be sanded and refinished multiple times Durable but the number of refinishes depends on the thickness of the top layer
Moisture Resistance Prone to damage from humidity and moisture Better resistance to moisture and humidity, hence suitable for basements and over concrete
Cost Depending on the wood species but generally higher because it’s 100% real wood It can be more affordable than solid hardwood due to its construction

Hardwood vs Engineered Flooring comparison - which is better hardwood or engineered infographic comparison-2-items-formal

This article will delve deeper into these differences and help you make an informed choice about your home’s flooring. We’ve taken the technical jargon and translated it into simple language to decode the better choice in your ‘hardwood vs engineered’ dilemma. So, let’s get started!

Understanding Hardwood and Engineered Wood

Before we jump into the comparison, let’s first understand what hardwood flooring and engineered wood flooring are.

What is Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood flooring is crafted from a single piece of solid wood, often taken from hardwood trees like oak, maple, and hickory. It is renowned for its durability, warmth, and timeless appeal, making it a popular choice for many homeowners. Hardwood flooring is typically milled into planks of varying lengths and widths, kiln-dried to a specific moisture content, and then cut into assorted length planks. Some hardwood floors are pre-finished at the manufacturing stage, while others are finished on-site after installation. The key characteristic of hardwood is its solidity – it’s a single piece of timber from top to bottom.

What is Engineered Wood Flooring?

On the other hand, engineered wood flooring is a multi-layered product. It begins with a core of several layers of wood, such as plywood or high-density fiberboard (HDF), arranged in different directions for added stability. This core is then topped with a layer of solid hardwood, also known as the “wear layer”, which is what you see and walk on. The wear layer is usually a thin veneer of hardwood, giving engineered floors the same natural beauty as solid hardwood. However, the multi-layered construction of engineered wood makes it more stable and less prone to warping due to changes in humidity and temperature, making it a versatile choice for various environments.

Now that we have a basic understanding of each type of flooring, we can dive into the specifics to determine which is better hardwood or engineered. Come along as we explore the pros and cons of each type, their durability, cost, and impact on your home’s value.

Comparing Hardwood and Engineered Wood

Composition and Construction

Let’s start by looking at how each type of flooring is made. Solid hardwood flooring is just as its name implies – solid. It’s made from a single piece of wood, milled into planks that are typically one inch thick. These planks are kiln-dried and milled to get rid of any defects, then planed into the desired thickness and given tongues and grooves along the long ends.

On the other hand, engineered hardwood is composed of multiple layers of wood. The top layer (wear layer) is a veneer of solid hardwood, while the layers underneath (core layers) are made of less expensive wood materials. The core layers are arranged perpendicular to each other for added strength and stability.

Durability and Lifespan

When it comes to durability, both engineered and solid hardwood flooring can withstand surface wear and scratches to similar degrees. However, their lifespan differs due to the number of times they can be refinished. Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished approximately ten times before the tongue and groove start to show, while engineered hardwood, due to the thinness of the wear layer, can only withstand a couple of refinishing cycles before the core layers become exposed.

Resistance to Moisture and Humidity

Wood is naturally susceptible to changes in moisture and humidity, which can cause expansion and contraction. However, engineered wood’s layered construction provides better resistance to these changes, making it a better choice for areas prone to moisture like bathrooms or basements.

Maintenance and Care

Both types of flooring require similar maintenance and care. Regular sweeping and vacuuming can keep the surface clean and free of debris that could scratch the wood. The difference comes in with refinishing. As mentioned earlier, solid hardwood can be refinished multiple times, which can help it look new for decades. Engineered hardwood, however, has a limited capacity for refinishing due to the thinness of its top layer.

Installation Methods

When it comes to installation, engineered wood is more versatile. It can be glued, stapled, or floated, even over concrete, making it ideal for below-grade installations. Solid hardwood, however, typically requires a plywood subfloor and can be more labor-intensive to install.

So, in the battle of which is better hardwood or engineered, the answer is not straightforward. Both types of flooring have their strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the conditions of your home. We at California Flooring and Design are here to assist you in making the best choice for your home and lifestyle.

Pros and Cons of Hardwood Flooring

Advantages of Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is a classic choice that offers numerous benefits. One of the main advantages is its longevity. As noted in the Top 3 Reasons to Choose Hardwood Flooring article, a well-installed hardwood floor can last for generations. This durability provides a sense of stability and can be a significant selling point for homeowners.

In addition to its lifespan, hardwood flooring offers unrivaled beauty. The natural grain patterns and color variations in each plank add unique character to your home and can match any decor style, whether modern, traditional, or contemporary.

Hardwood flooring is also relatively easy to maintain. It doesn’t trap dirt or dust, making it a healthier choice for your home. Simple vacuuming or sweeping can keep your floors clean, and an annual buffing with a quality wood cleaner can help maintain its luster.

Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring

While hardwood flooring offers many advantages, it’s also essential to consider the potential downsides. One of the main drawbacks is its susceptibility to moisture and humidity. As mentioned in the Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood article, hardwood flooring can warp or buckle if exposed to high levels of humidity or direct water contact. This makes it less ideal for high-moisture environments such as bathrooms, basements, or kitchens.

Another disadvantage is the cost. Hardwood flooring tends to be more expensive than other flooring options. This higher initial cost can be offset by the longevity of the flooring, but it might not be the best choice for budget-conscious homeowners.

Lastly, while hardwood flooring is generally durable, it can be prone to scratches and dents. High foot traffic areas or households with pets might see more wear and tear on hardwood floors. However, many of these can be sanded out and the floor refinished, keeping your hardwood floors looking their best for years to come.

Pros and Cons of Engineered Wood Flooring

Advantages of Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring offers a unique blend of benefits that might make it a more appealing option for some homeowners. Here are some of the main advantages:

Moisture Resistance: One of the key strengths of engineered wood flooring is its resistance to moisture. As per our research, its layered construction makes it less likely to expand and contract in response to changes in humidity, making it a suitable choice for high-moisture areas like bathrooms or basements.

Durability: Engineered wood flooring is built to withstand the rigors of daily use. While not as durable as solid wood, it’s still a robust choice, particularly if you opt for a high-quality ply or HDF variety.

Versatility: Engineered wood flooring can be installed on any level of your home, including basements, and directly on top of concrete. This is something you can’t do with solid hardwood.

Installation: It’s often easier to install engineered wood flooring than solid wood, thanks to the tongue-and-groove system used by most manufacturers. This could make it an attractive option for DIY enthusiasts.

Disadvantages of Engineered Wood Flooring

While engineered wood flooring has many benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks. Here are a few potential cons to keep in mind:

Damage Repair: Engineered wood flooring is less forgiving when it comes to damage. Scratches and water stains can’t be easily repaired. And while it’s possible to sand and refinish engineered wood, you can only do this a limited number of times due to the thin top layer of hardwood.

Fading: Like many types of flooring, engineered wood can fade in the sun. This can be a particular concern in rooms with a lot of natural light.

Strength: While engineered wood is strong, it’s not as strong as solid wood. This could be a concern in high-traffic areas or if you have heavy furniture.

In conclusion, the decision of which is better, hardwood or engineered, depends largely on your specific needs, budget, and the conditions in your home. At California Flooring and Design, we offer a wide range of both solid and engineered wood flooring options, allowing you to find the perfect solution for your space.

Cost Comparison: Hardwood vs Engineered Wood

Choosing the right flooring for your home involves not only considering the aesthetics and durability but also evaluating the cost implications. From the initial purchase to installation and long-term maintenance, understanding the cost of both hardwood and engineered wood flooring can help you make an informed decision.

Initial Cost

Solid hardwood flooring is renowned for its longevity and classic beauty, but this comes with a higher price tag. The cost of hardwood flooring usually ranges from $8 to $14 per square foot, making it a significant investment. The price can also vary based on the specific wood species, with options like oak, walnut, and cherry commonly available.

On the other hand, engineered hardwood flooring provides a more affordable alternative. Engineered wood consists of a thin veneer of hardwood on top of several layers of other wood types, which not only makes it more stable but also less expensive. Engineered flooring typically costs between $5 to $10 per square foot, making it a cost-effective choice for homeowners on a budget.

Long-term Cost

While the initial cost is an important factor, it’s equally crucial to consider the long-term costs associated with each type of flooring. Solid hardwood flooring, given its durability, can last for decades when well-maintained, which can offset its higher initial cost over time. However, it’s worth noting that solid hardwood may require more frequent refinishing, especially in high-traffic areas, which can add to its long-term cost.

Engineered hardwood, with its layered construction, can be refinished a couple of times, extending its lifespan and enhancing its value for money. However, it doesn’t have the same lifespan as solid hardwood, which can limit its long-term value.

Additionally, engineered wood flooring offers benefits such as water-resistance and stability in varying temperatures and humidity levels. These characteristics can potentially save you money on repairs and replacements in the long run, especially if the flooring is installed in high-moisture areas like kitchens and basements.

The decision between hardwood and engineered wood will depend on your specific needs and budget. At California Flooring and Design, we’re dedicated to helping you find the perfect flooring solution that provides the best value for your investment.

Impact on Home Value: Hardwood vs Engineered Wood

When it comes to increasing the resale value of your home, the type of flooring you choose can play a significant role. Potential homebuyers often pay attention to the quality and condition of the flooring during home inspections, which can influence their buying decision.

Hardwood Flooring and Home Value

Hardwood flooring is often considered a premium feature in a home. Its timeless appeal, durability, and the natural warmth it brings to any space are highly regarded by homebuyers. According to Forbes, installing hardwood flooring can boost the price of your home by as much as 2.5%. This is because the longevity of hardwood flooring, coupled with its high quality, adds significant value to a property and can be a major selling point.

Engineered Wood Flooring and Home Value

Engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, may not increase the property value as much as hardwood flooring. While engineered flooring shares a similar aesthetic to hardwood, there’s no substantial data to suggest that it provides a higher resale value to a house. That being said, its resemblance to solid hardwood and its superior resistance to moisture are rarely a turn-off for potential buyers.

It’s worth noting that while engineered wood flooring might not increase the value of a property as much as hardwood flooring, it also doesn’t typically decrease it. It’s generally seen as a neutral feature, neither adding nor subtracting significant value.

The Bottom Line

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of ‘which is better hardwood or engineered’ when it comes to the impact on home value. Your choice should ultimately align with your home’s specific needs, your personal preferences, and your budget.

At California Flooring and Design, we offer a wide range of both hardwood and engineered wood flooring options. No matter what your preference, we’re here to help you choose a flooring solution that offers the best balance of style, durability, and value for your home.

Choosing the Right Flooring for Your Home

Making the decision between hardwood and engineered wood flooring involves various factors. You need to consider the areas where you intend to install the floor, the level of foot traffic, and whether you plan to install the floor yourself.

Considerations for High-Moisture Environments

If you’re considering flooring for areas that are often exposed to moisture such as the kitchen, bathroom, or basement, engineered wood is a more practical choice. Its layered construction provides better resistance to moisture and humidity compared to solid hardwood. The top layer of engineered wood is actual hardwood, providing the aesthetics of hardwood, while the multiple layers beneath made of plywood or high-density fiberboard add to its stability and moisture resistance.

Considerations for High-Traffic Areas

For high-traffic areas in your home, like the hallway, living room, or kitchen, durability is key. While hardwood floors are known for their strength and longevity, engineered hardwood floors offer great resistance to scratching and warping. Engineered hardwood’s layered construction provides a balance between durability and visual appeal, making it a suitable choice for these high-traffic areas.

Considerations for DIY Installation

If you prefer to install the flooring yourself, engineered wood could be a more manageable choice. Engineered wood planks are lighter than solid hardwood, making them easier to handle during installation. Engineered wood also takes a shorter time to acclimate to room climates than hardwood, giving DIYers a quicker start to installation. Moreover, engineered wood is compatible with paints and stains, offering more room for customization.

However, DIY installation may not always be the best option, especially if you’re not experienced in flooring installation. In such cases, professional installation is highly recommended to ensure the longevity and performance of your flooring. At California Flooring and Design, we provide expert installation services to ensure your flooring is installed correctly and to your satisfaction.

In conclusion, both hardwood and engineered wood have their advantages. Your choice between them should be based on your specific needs, the particular conditions of your home, and your personal preferences. Our team at California Flooring and Design is always ready to help you make the right flooring choice for your home.


When it comes to the question of ‘which is better hardwood or engineered,’ the answer isn’t as straightforward as one might hope. Each type of flooring has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice largely depends on your specific needs and situation.

Solid hardwood flooring offers unmatched beauty and a sense of warmth that is hard to replicate. It’s durable, can stand the test of time and can be refinished multiple times, allowing for a fresh, new look even after years of use. However, it does require more maintenance and is more susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature.

Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is more resistant to moisture and changes in humidity, making it a great choice for areas where these elements are a concern. Although it may not be able to be refinished as many times as solid hardwood, its durability and versatility still make it a popular choice among homeowners.

At the end of the day, both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood can add significant value to your home. They are an investment in the beauty, comfort, and long-term value of your home.

At California Flooring & Design, we believe in the power of choice. We offer both solid and engineered hardwood flooring options, allowing you to choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences. And regardless of the type of flooring you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the same level of craftsmanship, quality, and service that we’re known for.

Your floors are more than just a surface to walk on. They’re an integral part of your home’s character and value. So, whether you decide on solid hardwood or engineered hardwood, you’re making a choice that will significantly enhance your living space.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. We look forward to helping you bring your vision for beautiful, high-quality hardwood floors to life.

About California Flooring & Design

At California Flooring & Design, we understand the importance of making the right choice between hardwood and engineered wood flooring. Our range of flooring options embodies the perfect balance of beauty, durability, and style. We’re one of the largest hardwood flooring providers in San Diego, offering both solid and engineered hardwood to suit your specific needs.

We pride ourselves on not only providing superior product quality but also offering exceptional customer service. Our team of experts is ready to assist you in understanding the nuances of ‘which is better hardwood or engineered’ and guide you towards a decision that’s best for your home. We are always ready to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have about your floors. Our responsive customer service team is committed to providing you with accurate and timely information, so you can make informed decisions about your flooring.

Moreover, we value your trust and satisfaction. That’s why we offer a generous 5-year guarantee on our products. This guarantee provides you with the assurance that our flooring will stand up to the test of time. From installation to maintenance and restoration, we ensure that your investment in hardwood flooring is protected. And in the unlikely event that you encounter a defect in the installation of your floors within the five-year timeframe, we commit to making service calls to rectify these issues.

Choosing California Flooring & Design means not only selecting high-quality, durable wood flooring but also gaining the peace of mind that comes from knowing your investment is secure. With our commitment to reliability, productivity, responsiveness, and our 5-year product guarantee, we’re confident that we can help you create a beautiful and lasting foundation for your home.

For more information about our offerings, we invite you to explore our product range. If you’re interested in reading more about hardwood flooring, you can check out our blog. And if you have any questions or require assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to helping you bring your vision for beautiful, high-quality hardwood floors to life.

California Flooring and Design - which is better hardwood or engineered