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Engineered vs. Solid


Construction types

Solid hardwood flooring is one solid piece of wood used to make each plank.  Because solid wood naturally absorbs moisture, these planks are more sensitive to changes in moisture and humidity than engineered wood planks. Changes in moisture and humidity will cause the wood planks to expand and contract horizontally. If the moisture level is too low, the planks will contract leaving gaps between each plank.  If the moisture level is too high it can cause the planks to peak, cup or buckle. This is why solid wood floors should not be installed below ground level, in wet areas, or directly over concrete slabs.  Because here on the Central Coast most houses have concrete foundations, solid hardwood is rarely used in this area.  The vast majority of hardwood we sell is Engineered.


Engineered hardwood is constructed by compressing several plies together which are stacked on top of each other with the grain on each successive ply running the opposite direction to the one just above and below it.  This provides a more dimensionally stable floor than the solid wood construction.  This is because when exposed to moisture solid wood planks absorb the water and expand across the width of the planks causing floors to buckle, whereas engineered planks use the cross-ply construction to counteract the expansion of each of the plies with the one above and below it.  Also with engineered construction only the top finish layer needs to be the species of wood desired.  The other plies can be made of more stable or less expensive species, making the engineered construction both more practical and more affordable.  As stated above Valley Flooring Carpet One of Santa Maria usually recommends using engineered wood in homes located on the Central Coast.


Most Engineered hardwood can be installed by stapling, nailing, or gluing.  Some can even be floated (a method in which the wood is not attached to the subfloor, but instead sits on top of a thin cushion of padding).  The majority of the ones we install a re glued.  Solid hardwood can not be glued or floated.  It must either be nailed or stapled.

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