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Hardwood or Engineered: A Head-to-Head Comparison

Posted on May 3, 2018 in:
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners

Modern kitchen with a wood floor

Q: We’re redoing our floors and have been going back and forth in a heated debate about solid hardwood vs. engineered floors. Help our home find a peaceful resolution, please!

A: Were your raised like I was? Red shag carpet, olive appliances, and being told there was nothing better than REAL, solid, hardwood flooring? Anything less was, well… just less (said with an upturn of a nose and a chuckle). Now, you might be wondering, is that still the case?

Many would argue that it is, and equally as many would say otherwise. From the looks of our showroom, I will tell you that you have a wide variety of options to choose from in solid and engineered floors and every other alternative you can imagine—laminate, vinyl plank, tile, and more.

A Solid Choice

Solid hardwood is still amazing! So many colors and styles, with all the flexibility to refinish for years to come. It is beautiful—luxe finishes that offer the opportunity to renew your floor over and over again and will last you a lifetime!

Engineered Hardwoods for Superior Style and Strength

Equally amazing are engineered hardwoods, or solid hardwood veneer on top of an engineered core. With engineered wood, you have more finishes to choose from and an even bigger variety of sizes and widths. To create these engineered hardwoods, you aren’t held to the size of a tree, so planks can be wide—an on-trend look. Engineered hardwood also boasts structural stability.

What Factor Is Most Important?

Color and finish are probably first and foremost, along with of the strength of the wood. Many consumers pick the color and finish they like first. Oil and brushed finishes are the most popular these days. As for color, we are watching the trends bend back towards more neutral warm tones.

After color and finish, consumers should then make sure the strength of the wood fits their lifestyle. Harder, stronger woods will withstand more wear and tear than softer woods.

The Floor of the Future?

Hard surfaces like hardwood and tile continue to be on the rise. As home values increase, many people are ditching the carpet in the main areas of their home and installing the wood floor they always dreamed of. Another sign of the times—or maybe just a sign of a strong housing market—is that more and more people are going back to installing hardwood on their stairs. This can be an expensive investment, but it’s one that many swear by.

Is solid hardwood the best? The debate between solid and engineered continues. The only thing for certain, with the wide variety of styles, types, and manufacturers, is that when it comes to hardwood, there truly is something for everyone.


Jenny Steiner is a salesperson for Builders Interiors, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s nearly 3,000 members, write to


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