Difference between Hardwood and Engineered Flooring

 

Key difference: Hardwood is the wood that comes from an angiosperm tree. This is a type of tree that has seeds that are enclosed, be it in pods, a shell, a covering or in a fruit. Hardwood tends to be long-lasting and durable. Due to this hardwoods are generally accepted as being the highest quality wood. Engineered wood, on the other hand, is made up of hardwood and plywood. It is composed of two or more layers of wood in the form of planks. It consists of alternating layers of hardwood and plywood in 90° angles to each other. The top layer is mostly composed of hardwood, as this is the layer that will be visible, once the flooring is set.

 

Hardwood and softwood are two categories used to classify different types of woods. Many people consider that hardwood is named such because it is harder and denser than softwood. This is true often enough, but not all the time. Take for example the balsa wood, which is soft, light and less dense than most other woods, but is classified as a hardwood. The classification of the wood is not actually done on the basis of weight or density; rather it is done on the basis of plant reproduction.

 

Basically, hardwood is the wood that comes from an angiosperm tree. This is a type of tree that has seeds that are enclosed, be it in pods, a shell, a covering or in a fruit. For example, apples or nuts and seeds like acorns and walnuts. These types of seeds allow birds and insects to be attracted to the flowers of the tree and be able to carry the pollen to other trees. This is also the reason why hardwood trees are not often bunched together but are spaced apart and often have other trees in-between them.

 

Most hardwood trees are also deciduous is nature. A deciduous tree is a tree that loses its leaves annually. Hardwood trees are also slower to grow, taking their own time. Due to this, most hardwood is dense. This is also the reason that hardwood is expensive, as it takes longer to grow. Some famous hardwoods include maple, balsa, oak, elm, mahogany, and sycamore.

 

Hardwoods are used for various applications such as fuel, tools, construction, boat building, musical instruments, flooring, cooking, barrels, manufacture of charcoal, etc. However, most people relate hardwoods for use in home furnishing and furniture. The most commonly used hardwoods for furniture include oak, ash, acacia, mango and mahogany.

 

Flooring made with hardwood tends to be long-lasting and durable. Due to this hardwoods are generally accepted as being the highest quality wood. However, with the high density of most hardwoods, they have a tendency of splitting, due to which the carpenter has to take extra care while installing the flooring. Maple and elm are most often used for flooring.

 

Engineered wood, on the other hand, is made up of hardwood and plywood. It is composed of two or more layers of wood in the form of planks. It consists of alternating layers of hardwood and plywood in 90° angles to each other. The top layer is mostly composed of hardwood, as this is the layer that will be visible, once the flooring is set.

 

The main advantage of engineered wood flooring over hardwood flooring is the price. Hardwood is quite expensive, even as compared to softwood; and as engineered wood contains part hardwood and part plywood, it is less expensive than pure hardwood. Currently, engineered wood is the most common type of wood flooring used globally.

 

Wikipedia lists the different categories of engineered wood flooring:

  • All timber wood floors are made from sawn wood and are the most common category of engineered wood flooring. They do not use rotary peeled veneer, composite wood (such as HDF), or plastic in their construction.
  • Veneer floors use a thin layer of wood with over a core that is commonly a composite wood product.
  • Acrylic impregnated wood flooring uses a layer of wood that is impregnated with liquid acrylic then hardened using a proprietary process.
  • Laminate and vinyl floors are often confused with engineered wood floors, but are not—laminate uses an image of wood on its surface, while vinyl flooring is plastic formed to look like wood.

 

As compared to engineered wood flooring, hardwood flooring is prone to "gapping", which is excessive space between planks; "crowning" which is convex curving upwards when humidity increases; and "cupping", i.e. a concave or sunken appearance of the plank. 

 

Image Courtesy: doityourselfbuilder.com

Image Courtesy: diverseflooring.co.uk

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