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There is rarely a floor more classic and elegant than hardwood flooring. Both natural and beautiful, the choices available today are vast and the options can be overwhelming.  Particularly when you consider that wood isn’t just wood. When considering hardwood flooring the type, the species and the areas that you’re putting it need to be considered.

The choice between solid hardwood and engineered wood will often come down your needs regarding stability, durability and the area you want it installed.  Hardwood might be the perfect fit for your basement but you can’t put solid wood down there. Conversely, you may be hesitant to install any wood product in your kitchen but engineered wood will likely stand up to any potential interaction with water.

Read on to find out more about solid hardwood and engineered wood and their primary differences.  Learn about the different, most popular species of wood on the market today and how each product requires a different method of installation and how that can effect is placement.


Hardwood | Side profile of solid hardwood

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It’s all in the name. Solid hardwood is a single piece of wood from top to bottom that most often comes in a 3/4″ thickness and ranges anywhere from 5″ to 11″ wide.  It’s most commonly produced as a pre-finished product and can be sanded down and refinished more time than an engineered wood product.  Solid hardwood is never recommended for bathrooms, basements or other areas where moisture is likely to accumulate but can, depending on its seal, withstand a small amount of moisture.  Solid hardwood is a great option for those looking for a long-term floor but who are also good with having a different product in the areas where solid wood just isn’t suitable.


Conversely, engineered wood is a layered product. Thin pieces of plywood are cross-grained, adhered together and topped with a piece of hardwood.  Identical in appearance to a solid product, it’s thickness starts at 3/8″ and width starts at 5″. Engineered’s surface layer is thinner than a solid but, due to the fact that it is a constructed product, engineered wood does have more durability in areas that are more prone to moisture. It can be sanded down and refinished but again, because of the thin top layer, this can only be done minimal amount of times.

Hardwood | Side profile of engineered wood

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When considering a wood species, what you’re looking at is the actual tree your hardwood is coming from.  Pared down, you’ll be choosing between domestic, wood like maple, oak and beech, and exotic species like ipe and brazilian.  Exotic woods tend to be harder and, oftentimes, more striking to look at. Though some exotics are harder than their softwood counterparts, it is important to remember that hardwood can and will dent, scratch and even chip if not maintained.

Hardwood | Maple Swatch


Light coloured by design, maple is a close grained wood popular with modern design. However, if finished with a dark stain maple is prone to visible scratches.

Hardwood | Red Oak Swatch

Red Oak

A really popular flooring choice, red oak has a natural red hue and an open grain. It's usually the most cost effective hardwood available.


Beech has a dramatic, natural finish with contrasting whorls. It's very popular for areas that get a lot of foot traffic as it withstands foot stress very well.

Hardwood | Brazilian Swatch


One of the hardest species available, Brazilian hardwood encompasses a number of different species including Jatoba and Tigerwood.

Hardwood | Walnut Swatch


Walnut is swirled with browns and, because of it's natural beauty, is rarely finished in other stains. Softer than other woods, any dents and nicks aren't usually visable due to its coloration.


Bamboo isn't actually a wood but rather a grass. It's stability is borne from the adhesive used to bind the material together. Bamboo grass is a voracious grower and therefore considered a green flooring choice.


Solid Hardwood

Nailed or stapled down to a subfloor, solid hardwood is never installed as a floating floor. Below grade locations and rooms with high moisture, like bathrooms, are not suitable for hardwood. Rather, this product is perfect for living areas, bedrooms, dining rooms and hallways.

Engineered Wood

Unlike solid wood, engineered wood has a range of installation options. Thinner varieties can be nailed down to a subfloor where the heavier options can be installed as a floating floor. Another bonus is that, with the proper subfloor, engineered wood can be installed in basements and other below grade rooms.


So, now that you’re armed with a bit more information what will it be? Solid or engineered? Both are timeless options that will certainly increase the ambiance and the resale value of your home.

If you’re looking for some design options, consider checking out some of the manufacturers that we’re proud to be partnered with. Appalachain Flooring, Mohawk and Fuzion Flooring are bound to inspire!

If you’ve decided that wood flooring is the right choice for you, we hope you’ll consider reaching out to us! We’ve flooring over 50,000 of your neighbours since 1986 so we’re fairly confident we can find the perfect hardwood flooring option for you. Want to meet us in person instead? Schedule your free in-home estimate today!

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