What’s The Difference Between Solid And Engineered Timber Floor?
If you’re looking to educate yourself about timber floors the first question you need to ask is – what’s the difference between solid and engineered timber flooring?
When choosing a timber floor, people are quick to make a decision based on the type of wood, colour, width, length and price, but overlook whether they would be better with solid or engineered timber floor.
This initial decision will affect the lifespan of your floor, it’s durability, the time it will take to install, how many times you can sand and polish, design and stylistic features of the boards, not to mention sustainability and emission levels.
What Is Solid Timber Flooring?
A solid timber floor is a traditional style hardwood floor which is a solid piece of wood all the way through. This style is more common in older houses all around Australia.
Solid timber floor typically comes as a raw product (appose to pre-finished) meaning after the boards are laid the installer will also need to sand and polish the whole area. Solid timber flooring looks amazing, ages well and can be re-sanded and polished numerous times which makes it a great long-term option.
Sounds great right? Well here’s the thing most consumers don’t realise…
Solid timber flooring will expand in humid conditions and contract in dryer periods. For a manufacturer there is a true art in making the perfect solid timber floorboard. To minimize the expansion and contraction after installation the wood must be kiln dried and aged to achieve a perfect moisture level in the wood.
True masters of flooring manufacturing will always use a process called hysteresis to age and balance the timber to reduce movement once installed.
If the wood is dried too much, or too fast, it will become brittle and lose its aesthetic appeal. On the other hand, if there is too much moisture in the board it will expand and contract. The problem with board expansion is it forces the boards to push against each other causing them to rise or cup. When boards contract they shrink leaving large ugly gaps in your floor.
Even after this rigorous process of treating the wood you will still need to acclimatise the floorboards to the environment where they will be laid. This process is known as E.M.C (Equilibrium Moisture Content). When installing solid timber flooring in your home you should leave the floorboards in the area where they will be laid for up to 6 weeks to further adapt to the relative humidity of your location.
Pros and Cons
- Premium look and feel
- Very smooth surface with no joining edges
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Less susceptible to termites
- Ages gracefully
- Solid and can be a more stable board
- Very warm feel for your home
- Can be sanded and polished multiple times
- Can last a long time last a long
- Coating isn’t as tough as pre-finished
- Less sustainable to the log resource
- Takes up to 6 weeks to install
- Very dusty and messy installation process
- Have to move out of your home when sanding
- Shorter and random sized boards
- Restricted to narrower boards due to stability issues
- Very difficult to match timber moisture to the household EMC
- Typically nailed to the ground
- Not suitable for pre-finished
- Repair and replacement requires a full sand and polish
- More expensive
What Is Engineered Timber Flooring?
An engineered timber floor is a multi-layered floor composed of a timber veneer or lamination surface layer sitting on a cheaper substrate of ply, pine or rubber wood.
The top layer of timber is generally thin (1mm – 4mm), making it easier to age and condition the wood, drastically reducing the expansion and contraction. Without having to worry about these humidity issues the manufacturer can create a pre-finished floorboard which doesn’t require any sanding or polishing after installation. With an engineered floor you can have the wood delivered, laid and be walking on all in the same day.
But how long will my engineered floor last?
This will depend a lot on how the floor is installed. Most companies will float an engineered floor which means they stick the boards together but there’s nothing holding the floor to the ground. This is a very quick and easy way to install a floor, but it restricts you from sanding and re-polishing the floor in the future. You can’t sand and re-polish a floating floor.
Engineered timber flooring does have some design benefits. It’s hard to find a solid timber floorboard that’s any wider than 100mm, purely because the wider and thicker the board is, the harder it is to keep it from expanding. With an engineered timber floor, you can create much wider planks exposing more of the wood’s natural textures. Wider boards will give your home an open plan look and makes it feel more spacious.
Pros and Cons
- Cheaper than solid timber
- Quick and clean installation process
- Doesn’t need to acclimatise before installation
- More stylistic variations available
- Doesn’t age gracefully
- Not as durable
- More susceptible to water and spills
- Cheaper wood underneath isn’t as strong as hardwood
- Can’t sand and polish if it’s a floated floor
- More susceptible to termites and white ants
- Typically no warranty when glued down
- Sounds cheap and hollow to walk on
What Is Lifewood Stabilised Solid Timber Flooring?
As you can see there are many pros and cons in both solid and engineered timber flooring. For this reason, we’ve created a revolutionary new board which incorporates the benefits of both.
Lifewood founder Mark first created this technology out of desperation to save his original business Bamboozle from bankruptcy. The biggest problem with bamboo flooring was finding a method to create a solid board that stays flat.
Coming from both an artistic family on his mother’s side, and a lineage of inventors and botanists from his father’s side, what really drives Mark was his passion for creating innovate solutions to complex problems. Since developing this technology for the bamboo market, Mark has extended it’s functionality for timber flooring and transformed Bamboozle into Lifewood Handcrafted Flooring to fit our extensive range of timbers.
We call this technology Stabilised Solid and it has enabled us to create a solid floorboard that can be pre-finished, sanded and polished up to 5 times and its versatility allows us to create all kinds of sizes and colour blends.
Stabilised Solid has 3 layers of solid timber (top 5mm, middle 5mm, bottom 5mm), the middle layer being the essential core layer. This core layer is lined with timber sections all laid on a right angle giving it the ability yield the natural movement of its environment, holding this movement entirely within its core.
Lifewood Stabilised Solid Flooring is 100% hardwood from top to bottom.
Not only does this prevent the big issue of solid timber expanding and contracting, we have also gone to great lengths to make our board much more scratch and water resistant. All our boards have very low VOC emitting coating which we apply to all 6 sides of every board.
This means you can have a floor that looks amazing and feel at ease that it’s not going to be easily damaged.
Pros and Cons
- Solid timber used from top to bottom making every board more stable
- Advanced manufacturing procedure eliminating expansion and contraction of the board
- All our boards come pre-finished and can be walk on the same day – no dust or mess
- Thick top layer which can be sanded and polished 4 times
- Low VOC emissions in the glue
- Sustainable manufacturing process which uses the whole tree, even the saw dust to heat the kilns
- Hard-wearing coating offering more damage protection
- Moisture resistant
- Lifetime warranty on all our floors
- More expensive than engineered
- Challenging scientific process to make and manufacture each board
- Not as readily available
We set ourselves the goal to create the most consistently superior floorboards available. It means searching harder for reliable and sustainable timbers and inventing our own process to achieve our uncompromising standards.
We call ourselves Lifewood because we know we can truly offer a timber floor that will be beautiful for life.
If you would like to know more about our story don’t hesitate to get in touch, or if you’re in Perth come visit our Osborne Park showroom today and take some free samples.