Hardwood Flooring Types & Options

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

A Beginners’ Guide to Hardwood Flooring: Here’s What You Should Know

For years, on-site finishing has been the preferred choice of both homeowners and flooring contractors when it comes to hardwood flooring. However, there is a greater variety of choices than ever when it comes to hardwood flooring services, hardwood floor repair, and flooring installation, from solid to engineered and pre-finished to unfinished.

Brown wooden parquet floor near a white wooden door

Photo by Mike K on Unsplash

Here, we’ll provide a helpful overview of all the hardwood flooring options available to you so you can make a more informed decision regarding your new flooring or replacement flooring needs.

Solid Hardwood Flooring vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Before we explore the differences between solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring, let’s review what the two categories have in common. For example, solid and engineered wood floors are both made of real hardwood. As a result, both look beautiful when installed, come in a range of styles, and will last for a very long time if properly maintained.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s explore the differences between solid and engineered hardwood flooring.

What is Solid Hardwood Flooring?

Solid hardwood flooring is made up of planks of solid wood. Solid hardwood is generally 3/4-inch thick and varies in width from 2 1/2-inches to 5 inches. If you want anything beyond that width, then you’ll want to consider engineered hardwood (more on that to come).

Solid hardwood flooring is usually finished on site after being delivered by the manufacturer. Then, it is installed, sanded, and finished at the site by flooring experts with the appropriate floor sanding, installation, and finishing experience.

In Boston, many homeowners have the good fortune of living in older homes or condos within the city. That means they’re blessed with the structure’s original hardwood flooring, lending their homes with an enticing air of antiquity and originality. In fact, solid hardwood floors are what people throughout the city (and beyond) generally strive for. That’s because they’re associated with a sense of upper-class intrigue and luxury stemming from the fact they’re made of real hardwoods instead of engineered ones.

Gorgeous Hard Wood Flooring

Another one of the major differentiators between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood is the fact that solid hardwood can be sanded, finished, and refinished 6-8 times throughout its life span. This can only be done to engineered wood once or twice before the looks start to dissipate, at which point you may be forced to consider putting in brand new floors.

However, all this isn’t to say that solid hardwood floors aren’t without their drawbacks. For example, let’s look at the threat of water, as this is the natural enemy of solid hardwood. As a result, it’s unlikely to ever find solid hardwood installed below ground, in basements, or anywhere else where excess moisture likes to build up. Instead, solid hardwood is generally relegated to above-ground rooms, hallways, and other living spaces where the threat of water isn’t so prevalent.

What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

Unlike solid hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood combines two or more types of wood (i.e., red oak and maple) into one plank. In examples where engineered flooring is made with expert craftsmanship, the top layer will consist of either a sliced or sawn hardwood veneer that closely resembles solid hardwood. In lesser high-quality products, however, that top layer will consist of rotary cut veneer which has a much more obvious plywood look.

atlantic kitchen wooden cabinets and steel ovens

Beneath the top layer of engineered hardwood, you’ll find several layers of wood and plywood that are glued and laminated together in a perpendicular pattern. This is why you can’t sand engineered hardwood over and over and over. The first time will likely be okay, as well as the second; but after resanding the engineered wood three, four, or more times, you’re sure to tear away at the top veneer layer and hit the plywood. This causes serious damage to the material that will result in the need for new hardwood.

Unlike solid hardwood flooring, which is usually finished on-site, most engineered hardwood comes factory-finished after receiving multiple coats of durable finish. Additionally, there’s an issue with moisture that should be addressed. Engineered hardwood comes better equipped to deal with moisture, humidity, and temperature changes. For this reason, it’s a more popular option when it comes to below-grade spaces.

Pre-finished vs. Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

Deciding between pre-finished or unfinished wood flooring can be a difficult decision. Each has its own pros and cons, and there’s certainly something to be said for each option. Here, we’ll explore the differences between each so you can make a more informed decision regarding your specific flooring needs.

What is Pre-finished Hardwood Flooring?

If hardwood flooring installation costs are a concern, then pre-finished flooring might be worth considering. Generally speaking, pre-finished flooring means all the processing has been done beforehand in a factory rather than inside your home. The wood is delivered to your home pre-sanded, pre-stained, and pre-coated. Of course, the wood will still have to be installed by a group of reputable hardwood floor installation professionals.

Pros of Pre-finished Hardwood:

  • No scent because the treatment of the wood has been done at the factory before coming to your home.
  • No sanding is done at your home, meaning less mess during the flooring installation process.
  • Often a better option for customers with a reduced budget.
  • Homeowners can immediately walk on it, place furniture on it, and more as soon as the installation is complete.
  • Dozens of finishing and refinishing options to choose from, many of which can closely echo the look of your pre-existing floors.

Mitchell Gold Sitting Room Example Cream and Dark Brown Wood

What is Unfinished Hardwood Flooring?

Unfinished wood flooring is a great option for those who already have hardwood flooring in their houses but are wanting to either replace the existing wood or add on to it. In these instances, unfinished wood is usually the best option if you want to maintain consistency and maintain consistent coloring and finish. Professional installers take care of all the treatment processes inside your home, from the sanding to the application of the selected stain and finishing. While it is more time-consuming and generally more expensive, most people find that unfinished hardwood provides a more natural look free from the often visible grooves in between the boards that frequently come with pre-finished wood.

Pros of Unfinished Hardwood:

  • When installed by an experienced flooring company, you’re guaranteed to get a totally flat and smooth surface that’s easy to clean and maintain.
  • Can easily be spot repaired if a section gets scratched.
  • You can quickly and easily have hardwood floor refinishing experts come in and laminate the floor at any time.
  • Many stain and color choices are available which will allow your floors to reflect the warmth and workmanship of the experts who install them.
  • Unfinished hardwood stains are now extremely environmentally friendly and don’t project strong odors like some did in the past.

Distressed Wood Siding

High-Quality Hardwood Floor Installation & Other Services Are Just a Click Away!

Choosing between pre-finished wood, unfinished wood, solid hardwood, and engineered hardwood ultimately comes down to your personal preferences. There are many choices available for all of the aforementioned options, each with its own unique details related to pricing, warranty, and more.

Contact the flooring installation experts at Sleeping Dog Properties today to learn more about the options available to you.


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