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Wood Flooring 101

Selecting the right flooring is an important decision! Flooring can add depth, texture and beauty to compliment other aspects of the space like paint color, cabinets, and the fireplace mantle.. My sister is in the process of having a semi custom home built and we were discussing finishes. The current trend in her area is luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring, which provides a realistic wood or stone look using 3D printing technology to mimic the texture of the real thing. In past homes, she's always installed solid wood flooring and so she didn't know about the difference between solid and engineered hardwood flooring as an alternative to LVP. I decided to do a short blog to explain the differences to help you make the best choice for your home. Thank you to Brie Chochek of TriWest for your help.

Solid wood is what has been used as flooring for more than 400 years. Let's start with its pros and cons.


1. It is normally 3/4 of an inch thick, but with diminishing lumber sources, new wood typically can't be wider than 4 or 5".

2. Hardwood can be sanded and refinished numerous times over the life of the floor.

3. It is fairly easy to match if you know the species of your existing floor which is helpful if you remove a wall during a remodel.

(A wood flooring specialist can feather in new with the existing)

4. Comes in unfinished and prefinished options.

5. Typically nailed down to a subfloor and is recommended for above grade spaces only

(not recommended for slab/concrete foundations unless you put down a 3/4" plywood subfloor first

which will affect the overall height or basements)


1. Must be acclimated to the site for a minimum of 3 days before being installed to allow for expansion and contraction

2. Shouldn't be installed over radiant heat

3. Can continue to expand and contract over the life of the floor, including warping.

Engineered wood pros and cons.


1. Can very in depth from 5/16" to 3/4" thick (typical is 3/8" or 1/2")

2. Can be glued straight to a concrete slab (can also be nailed, stapled or floated)

3. Uses 80% less wood than solid hardwood (environmentally friendly)

4. More stable because of the numerous plies underneath the top layer

(each ply is perpendicular to the one below which creates additional stability similar to plywood)

5. Comes in wider widths

6. Some can be installed over radiant heat


1. Depending on the quality of the engineered wood, it can't be refinished (especially if installed floating vs nailed)

2. Less expensive options only come in shorter lengths, which can look busy in an open floor plan

3. The wear layer can vary from 1mm (lifespan of 20-30 years) up to 4mm (lifespan of 50-100 years or more)

(this determines how many times the floor can be sanded down)

Selecting the right flooring for the application, your budget and your aesthetic can be a daunting task. I would love to talk with you about how my design services and project management might help you make your dream a reality. If there are other topics you’re interested in learning about, or if you’d like more information and a personalized interior design consultation, please contact me at or view my services online.

Learn more tips in my free Interior Design ebook here

Always look for the silver lining.


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