Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood vs. Luxury Vinyl Planks
When it comes to hardwood flooring, many homeowners only think of solid and engineered wood. However, there are other manufactured woods, such as Luxury Vinyl planks that are fashioned to simulate the look and feel of hardwood. Solid and engineered wood flooring undoubtedly add great value and structure to the home and come in various species, styles, and stain. But on the other hand, Vinyl offers quite a good number of advantageous features that the natural hardwood and even engineered wood cannot offer. In this wood flooring guide, we will look at the major differences between solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, and luxury vinyl planks. We will look at the design options of the three as well as their installation processes. We will also consider the underfoot sound of the three flooring materials and also explore their waterproof level. At the end of this article, you would be able to distinguish between the three and also be equipped with what you need to make an informed decision on your home flooring. Let us go right in and explore!
What are Solid Hardwood; Engineered Hardwood; and Luxury Vinyl Planks?
Solid hardwood is 100% natural with each plank crafted from a single solid timber piece that is air-dried or kiln before sawing. The moisture content of solid hardwood is usually controlled during the manufacturing process in order to prevent it from warping during storage and transportation. Many homeowners desire solid hardwood for their home flooring due to its authenticity, durability, and timelessness.
Engineered hardwood is made up of different layers. The upper and bottom layer is usually 100% natural wood while the middle is built from a core of five to seven layers of plywood that are crisscrossed in various directions. The hardwood parts of the engineered wood come in different species. These types of flooring designs produce a very stable core that has a relatively low chance of expanding, shifting, or contracting when exposed to humidity, temperature, and moisture.
Luxury Vinyl Planks
Luxury Vinyl planks are man-made flooring materials that are manufactured. They are designed to have the look and feel of natural hardwood with distinct markings and colors replicating hardwood design. Thanks to advancement in technology, an ordinary onlooker will have a hard time distinguishing between natural hardwood flooring and luxury vinyl planks flooring because latest printing technology has made it possible for vinyl to be simulated to look exactly like a variety of hardwood species.
Let’s get started by doing a rough comparison among these three flooring:
How do Design Options Differ?
Solid Hardwood offers a wide selection of designs to bring your personal style and home décor to life. It ranges from traditional hardwood to more trendy colors to naturally hand scraped wood. It comes in stylish, trendy, and classic designs that will look graceful on any home floor.
Engineered hardwood also comes in a wide range of designs and style, with just a few exceptions. It ranges from traditional designs to customized designs that feature hand-crafted tool markings, and multi-tonal colors. There are some specific designs, like extra wide planks that are available only with engineered wood.
With the development of technology, the difference between solid hardwood and luxury vinyl flooring is barely noticeable. The constant exponential development in the field of digital photography has inspired designers of luxury vinyl materials to come up with natural and realistic vinyl products that come in texturized and wear layer, making it look and feel like real solid hardwood.
Where and how can I install them?
Solid hardwood is moisture absorbent; therefore it is not recommended to be installed in humid and moist areas of the home. The kitchen and bathrooms are not great places to install solid hardwood. This type of flooring is also at risk of strong sunlight and can easily stain. It is therefore not advisable to install it in places exposed to extreme sunlight. Solid hardwood is designed to be installed over a wood sub-floor with each of the boards arranged and separately fastened to the even sub-floor. It is not appropriate to install it on a concrete substrate because of the nailing. It is also not a good option for below grade installations like the basement. This is because the residual moisture and heightened humidity below grade may cause the solid hardwood flooring to warp.
Engineered hardwood is made of polymers, multi-thin layers of condensed wood, and resin, topped with layers of natural hardwood. Engineered hardwood is a bit better than solid hardwood in terms of waterproof. It can be installed on the basement floor and other places prone to humidity. You might want to check the brand of engineered hardwood flooring you are purchasing because the moisture resistance varies from wood to wood. It can be installed on various flooring including tile, linoleum, concrete, or even real hardwood. However, the existing flooring must be level. Engineered hardwood is fixed and snapped into place through grooves on each side of the wood planks. It is not actually fastened to the floor underneath and is somewhat like a floating floor. Some engineered wood can be refinished but the majority cannot hold for refinishing.
Luxury Vinyl Planks
This type of flooring is easy to install. For vinyl, an absolutely leveled floor is not required but the surface must be flawlessly clean. It can be installed on concrete, wood, or any other existing flooring. Luxury vinyl comes with sticky backing and can be glued straight to the floor surface. The material is moisture resistance so it can be installed in the kitchen, bathroom, and basements.
How does the sound underfoot compare?
Solid hardwood sounds solid when walking on it. It is not sound proof but it doesn’t sound wrong either. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, can sound a bit hollow when moving on it. However, this can be easily corrected by stapling the planks to the floor beneath rather than floating them. The premium version of engineered wood is actually thick and sounds like solid hardwood. Luxurious vinyl planks are the most sound-absorbent of all the three types of flooring materials. They are softer and muffle footsteps than other types of floors.
Are they waterproof?
Both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood are not waterproof and this is why they are not recommended for areas with high humidity and moisture. They can easily stain from the liquid. Luxurious vinyl planks, on the other hand, are waterproof.
Solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, and luxury vinyl planks all have their individual uniqueness. We have highlighted the attributes of each of the flooring materials above, so you have the right information to work with when making your flooring choice. It is advisable that you seek professional service when selecting and installing any of the flooring materials discussed above.