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niceguymr
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Posted: 10/6/2009 12:33:50 AM
So we're deliberating between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood floors. I've been doing a lot of research and have learned that neither choice is best for all applications, and that engineered are actually better for some. I'm just going to blurt out some random facts about the 2 different types of floors that I've recently learned. Please feel free to correct any mistakes but back your statements up so we can understand why.

1) Engineered is basically hardwood mounted to 3-5 layers of plywood that run perpendicular to eachother. The purpose of this is a few fold (1) to reduce the cost of production by using cheaper grade woods in the plywood (2) it provides for a more dimensionally stable top layer (solid wood) better for use in high moisture areas and (3) virtually eliminates cupping and crowning.

Other benefits of engineered wood is that it doesn't expand/contract seasonally like solid hardwoods and can be installed on almost any subflooring with either nails or glue

Some say that engineered woods can be sanded down fewer times but I guess that depends on how thick the top layer is. Solid woods can only be sanded down to either the top of the nail/staples or the top edge of the grooves, which can be around 1/4". They make plenty of engineered woods with the same thickness for their top layer.

I've also hear/read that engineered woods will make less 'creeky' sounds due to is greater stability.

Even a professional wood floor salesperson/installer cannot tell the difference of quality installed engineered vs non-enginieered of the same species and plank width.

Engineered wood floors tend to sound more hollow when walked on.

Good quality engineered woood floors may last 3 - 4 sandings, which translates to at least a few decades. Solid wood floors claim to last for generations (which they can, but I don't see how much more sanding they can take. You still have to stop sanding at the nail heads or groves, whichever you hit first.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 12:52:02 AM
We faced the same question about five years ago. We went with engineered. There was no real advantage to solid wood over engineered that I could see.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 12:54:46 AM
Originally Posted By niceguymr:
<snip>

1) Engineered is basically hardwood mounted to 3-5 layers of plywood that run perpendicular to eachother. The purpose of this is a few fold (1) to reduce the cost of production by using cheaper grade woods in the plywood (2) it provides for a more dimensionally stable top layer (solid wood) better for use in high moisture areas and (3) virtually eliminates cupping and crowning.

<snip>


Water is death for the engineered stuff. Death. It's not good for either, but it will kill engineered flooring.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 1:00:13 AM
Engineered is the way to go, especially if you have a concrete subfloor. Solid hardwoods have to be nailed down, with the exception of a few 5/16" solids that can be glued. If you go with a solid that has to be nailed, and you have concrete, expect additional costs for a plywood subfloor to nail into and transition problems in any area it will touch that has carpet, tile, etc., as the solid will sit significantly taller after the plywood subfloor, and the products thickness of typically 3/4".

Engineered can be glued, and some can be floated, over any subfloor that is level within the products parameters. Look at engineered floors with a minimum of 3/8" thickness, 1/2" would be preferable. Also, depending on the species of wood, engineered woods are typically cheaper than solids.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 1:07:54 AM
Call me Mr. Lucky.

In my current home, which is about 17 years old, I've had two attic mounted evaporator coils go bad this summer and overflow
out through the ceiling and on to our "engineered" floors.

Like I said, Mr. Lucky.

I am quite happy at how they have settled down and really I won't do anything with them.
I have home owners insurance, but I don't want the hassle.

I have had some replaced (always a GREAT idea to save any and all leftovers) where my son's young Pit Bull pissed on the floor and we didn't know for about a day or so...[://
It left a stain in the wood that, IMHO, would have done the same to any wood and had nothing to do with the lower layers.

This is the third house in which I have had engineered hard wood floors installed and I am happy with them.
I agree with the above poster that they don't like water, but maybe the better ones do better. (What a novel thought!)





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Erick123
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Posted: 10/6/2009 1:22:49 AM
[Last Edit: 10/6/2009 1:25:53 AM by Erick123]
I install the stuff, I can tell you, go with solid...

can be refinished MANY TIMES............... END.

Oh, you may be able to get 1, if your lucky... sand/screen on the engineered .
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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:12:09 AM
It is my understanding that "real" solid wood floors add value to a property. The "engineered" wood floors have a life cycle equivalent to carpet, i.e., they are considered "used up" after 5 to 10 years. Granny has 59 year old real hardwood floors that look as good as the day they were installed.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:19:11 AM
Originally Posted By Erick123:
I install the stuff, I can tell you, go with solid...

can be refinished MANY TIMES............... END.

Oh, you may be able to get 1, if your lucky... sand/screen on the engineered .



The engineered floor we had installed has the top layer that goes down to the groove. I doubt I'll live long enough to refinish them that far. I'm not so sure that solid wood would look all that good refinished down to the groove either.

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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:28:40 AM
ok sounds about 50/50 so far...tagging for more opinions...
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Posted: 10/6/2009 4:02:25 AM
Nothing is better the real solid hardwood floors. They last forever and are far more durrable. Top coat them properly and humidity is not a problem.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 4:09:19 AM
Engineered floors come with a factory finish that is a lot harder than anything you can put on in the field. Mine have held up really well to four active dogs.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 4:16:00 AM
Really depends where you are installing them, and over what (concrete, radiant floor heating, etc.).

In any case, get the prefinished stuff (almost always the case with engineered, not always so with solid). The finish applied at the factory is more durable than the stuff applied on site, and often times doesn't have the blemishes that on site applications can have.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 4:51:49 AM
[Last Edit: 10/6/2009 5:00:22 AM by hicap]
well the biggest drawback to me is that engineered wood floors look cheap - its not the real thing and its easy to tell the difference - regardless if some say they hold up better (which they dont), can be placed on concrete, etc... they look cheaper, have this hollow sound when walked on, and to me its obvious that they are not the real thing - i can spot that cheap looking pre-finish a mile away

its true engineered can be placed on concrete but hardwood is not meant for concrete anyway - maybe if i had a ranch home with a slab i might consider it

most people i know put down engineered wood to save money and to me the look is just not the same

spend the money and get real hardwood - 2-1/4" red or white oak at a minimum is the only way in my opinion to go unless you want more exotic stuff



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Posted: 10/6/2009 5:19:35 AM
Concrete sub floor in rooms that have moisture issues. My wife wants the fake stuff, I opt for tile with carpets on top.
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niceguymr
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Posted: 10/6/2009 9:42:55 AM
Originally Posted By Erick123:
I install the stuff, I can tell you, go with solid...

can be refinished MANY TIMES............... END.

Oh, you may be able to get 1, if your lucky... sand/screen on the engineered .


Correct me if I'm wrong here...

I was told that an average sanding/refinishing removes about 1mm from the surface. The engineered floors I was looking at were 4mm - 10mm. So if you sand/refinish once every 5 - 10 years (and I know people who've gone longer), then I'd say engineered floors could last a few decades at least. What you're saying would be true if the floors are only 1-2mm thick. And just b/c a solid floor is 3/4" solid hardwood doesn't mean you can sand it down all the way through to the floor. The solid hardwood floors that I've seen are tounge and groove, and the top layer (the sandable part ABOVE where the tounge/groove connnect) is not much thicker if at all than some of the newer engineered stuff. Therefore (I believe that) the new engineered stuff is designed to be refinishable as many times as the solid stuff. Most people who buy a house rip out the floors anyway to put in what they like.

I could be all wrong so please feel free to correct me.

niceguymr
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Posted: 10/6/2009 9:53:45 AM
Originally Posted By hicap:
well the biggest drawback to me is that engineered wood floors look cheap - its not the real thing and its easy to tell the difference - regardless if some say they hold up better (which they dont), can be placed on concrete, etc... they look cheaper, have this hollow sound when walked on, and to me its obvious that they are not the real thing - i can spot that cheap looking pre-finish a mile away


I'm no expert but you appear to have no idea what you're talking about. Engineered does not mean "pre-finished". Some of the major manufacturers of wood floors have both engineered and non-engineered floors made with the exact same solid hardwood. The difference is that the engineered is 1/4" of hardwood atop 1/2" of plywood and that the non-engineered is 3/4" of solid hardwood. So a professionally well installed engineered floor using the same type of wood would be indistinguishable from a solid wood floor (using the same type of wood). In fact, the solid wood floor would show more cupping/crowning/gaps after years of seasonal & temperature changes than the engineered floors.

Again, I'm no expert but I went to a place that's been in business for nearly 100 years and got a little education on this. In their showroom they had floors of the same species of wood, engineered and not, side by side installed. You could not tell the difference unless you were able to look at a cross section EXCEPT that the engineered floors actually appeared to retain better installation after the years since they didn't expand/contract as much.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 9:59:03 AM
Originally Posted By Maryland_Shooter:
Concrete sub floor in rooms that have moisture issues. My wife wants the fake stuff, I opt for tile with carpets on top.


We're only putting wood on the stairs and in the bedrooms and hallway. The rest of the house which includes the kitchen & bathrooms will remain tiled.

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Posted: 10/6/2009 10:27:52 AM
We have real 2.25" red oak here. Finished with polyurethane much like a basketball court. I'm trying to imagine why you would need to sand them. Granted, I'm not a hardwood expert, but I thought you sanded them when you installed them. Then applied the finish. We have lived here since 1994 and they look like the day we installed them. If they ever need it, I would lightly sand the finish and apply another coat of polyurethane. But at the current rate of wear, that probably be until i'm on social security.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 10:39:50 AM
This thread is relevant to my interests...

The 'hollow' feel that many are talking about is likely a result of walking on cheaper floating laminates.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 10:42:05 AM
Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:
Originally Posted By niceguymr:
<snip>

1) Engineered is basically hardwood mounted to 3-5 layers of plywood that run perpendicular to eachother. The purpose of this is a few fold (1) to reduce the cost of production by using cheaper grade woods in the plywood (2) it provides for a more dimensionally stable top layer (solid wood) better for use in high moisture areas and (3) virtually eliminates cupping and crowning.

<snip>


Water is death for the engineered stuff. Death. It's not good for either, but it will kill engineered flooring.


Sage words. I did a job about 6 years ago where we re-trimmed an entire house in oak. Cabinets, crown, doors, floor, etc. This house was on a monolithic slab and I tried like hell to convince the homeowner to use standard 3/4 oak on 5/8" sleepers. Yes, this would have raised the finished height a bit but it would have been the way to do it correctly. The wife got involved (as they always do) and unleashed her vast knowledge of everything that she learned at the office and the settled on a product from Bruce that is Oak with a total thickness of 3/8". This product is designed to be glued to concrete with a special adhesive you trowel out like thinset.

This product also required that in order to get the planks to lock up tight, you had to use masking tape across the top of the flooring to lock it all together. Of course, of course, of course I got a liability waiver on this stuff and I am glad it did because any amount of moisture that came through the slab warped this stuff and popped it off the floor, which I told them would happen.

I will never ever touch this stuff again and I highly recommend no one does either. I went back and fixed this stuff for free about a half dozen times before I finally told the homeowners that I could no longer continue fixing this product for free, it wasn't our workmanship, it was the product.

Standard hardwood is what I always suggest. Laminates are good in areas that might see water like kitchens. I don't like laminates because it is obviously fake. The other flooring products that are actual hardwood adhered to a plywood base are ok as long as the aren't glued to concrete.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 10:43:11 AM
You can't go wrong with fine tile, it looks so nice.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 10:50:05 AM
Solid . I have solid at my house Cherry and Oak. my GF has engineered, the engineered shows dents from the kid leaning back and sitting on 2 legs of the chair . I had mine sanded and refinished once in 20 years , the Cherry was actually removed from another house .
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Posted: 10/6/2009 10:51:29 AM
Originally Posted By hicap:
well the biggest drawback to me is that engineered wood floors look cheap - its not the real thing and its easy to tell the difference - regardless if some say they hold up better (which they dont), can be placed on concrete, etc... they look cheaper, have this hollow sound when walked on, and to me its obvious that they are not the real thing - i can spot that cheap looking pre-finish a mile away

its true engineered can be placed on concrete but hardwood is not meant for concrete anyway - maybe if i had a ranch home with a slab i might consider it

most people i know put down engineered wood to save money and to me the look is just not the same

spend the money and get real hardwood - 2-1/4" red or white oak at a minimum is the only way in my opinion to go unless you want more exotic stuff





That is not the case in my floors. I have engineered red oak floors. Pre finished and glued down over concrete. The floor sounds as solid as my tile. I do not like the hollow sound the cheaper and non glued down floors give and have been extremely happy with mine. My floors are 2 1/2 planks and are 5/8" thick with the top layer down to the groove. Granted, I used more glue than recommended, but I can tell you this, they are not going anywhere without some major work involved.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 10:54:04 AM
Hint-90-100 years from now, no one will be reclaiming the engineered wood flooring from your ready to be torn down house.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 11:00:08 AM
What's best for a concrete slab?
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Posted: 10/6/2009 11:01:40 AM
We are having solid oak flooring installed as I type this. There is no comparison....real wood is awsome.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 11:09:47 AM
I think a few people here are confusing engineered flooring with laminate flooring. They are not the same product.

I use solid hardwood. I dabble in tile. I wont touch laminate or engineered flooring.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 11:17:20 AM
We looked at bamboo flooring when we built this house three years ago. It was so damn confusing as to types and sub-types that we just went with ceramic tile and throw rugs thru-out the house.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 11:26:18 AM
Originally Posted By DriftPunch:
This thread is relevant to my interests...

The 'hollow' feel that many are talking about is likely a result of walking on cheaper floating laminates.


Also there are 2 ways to lay the engineered flooring. The floating method. This way sounds hollow and cheap, Like pergo with a nicer finish.

And the glue method. You can't really tell the difference of solid wood or engineered.

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Posted: 10/6/2009 12:51:01 PM
Originally Posted By whiskerz:
Solid . I have solid at my house Cherry and Oak. my GF has engineered, the engineered shows dents from the kid leaning back and sitting on 2 legs of the chair . I had mine sanded and refinished once in 20 years , the Cherry was actually removed from another house .


I think some people are not getting the fact that the hardness of the wood depends entirely on the species of wood. Therefore, a person can have an engineered wood floor that is much harder (as well as dent and sratch resistent) than a different species of solid hardwood. Another thing people assume is that ALL oaks or cherries are the hardest when in actuality, there are some oaks and cherries that are on the hardest end and some that are on the softest end of the hardwood floors (similar to pine). There's a lot of variation and dozens of different species. So it is very possible that your GF (above quoted post) simply has a softer hardwood used in her engineered floors, just like it is possible to obtain harder engineered hardwood floors than what you presently have.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 12:58:20 PM
Originally Posted By xjronx:
I think a few people here are confusing engineered flooring with laminate flooring. They are not the same product.

I use solid hardwood. I dabble in tile. I wont touch laminate or engineered flooring.



You're right, people here ARE confusing engineered and laminate.

Mind if I ask why you wont touch engineered flooring? You sounded like you knew what you were talking about until you made that statement.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:11:30 PM
Cherry is a relatively soft hardwood. Oak is harder than cherry, but still pretty soft. Maple is harder. When you get into some of the South American or African species, you will see hardness two to three times that of American hardwoods.

It does in fact seem that people are confusing laminate and engineered wood floors. It also seems that no matter what, a floor installed under less than ideal conditions will fail. If you aren't sure how your concrete slab was laid down, don't install ANY kind of wood floor over it. If you're going to install wood flooring in framed parts of the house, you won't really have a problem with either type. Personally, I wouldn't buy glue down engineered flooring. I'd rather use a thicker product and nail it down.


Furthermore, FAR too often in hardwood flooring, woods are given generic names like "Brazilian cherry" when in fact the name of that wood is actually Jatoba. This tends to confuse people. Also, some species are substituted for others, and that leads to further confusion. For example Alder looks a lot like cherry, and can be used as a substitute, but it's almost half the hardness.

Here is a cursory list of hardwoods and their hardness on the Janka scale which is used to measure hardness of wood. The list isn't all inclusive, and does name woods by generic and or "trade" names, but it is a pretty good starting point.
http://www.jankahardnessscale.com/janka-hardness-scale-graph.php
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:15:02 PM
Real wood!
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:22:52 PM
[Last Edit: 10/6/2009 3:06:10 PM by OnlineAllTheTime]
We just put down bamboo in 2 of the kids' rooms, the master closet and the laundry room. We used cheap laminate before as a temporary fix until we decided on something permanent and I'm so glad we weren't expecting it to last longer than a couple of years because I was tired of it within a couple of months.

We're rebuilding from Ike and did stained concrete throughout the living room, dining room, kitchen and hallway. Tile in both bathrooms. Our bedroom will have carpet because it's easier on the knees but that will be all other than area rugs on the concrete floors.

Hang on and I'll post pics.

ETA: Nevermind on the pics. Can't find the USB cord for my camera. I do have some of the stained concrete though.....

Ignore the sheetrock dust footprints.



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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:23:29 PM
Real Oak floors. Mine are from the 60's and going strong. unless there is a HUGE price break on engineered i would stick with real hardwood.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:29:30 PM
My house was built in 1903 and still has the original pine floors. I wouldn't trade them for anything.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:30:41 PM
We used both, and there is no substitute for our original maple floors, but the engineered floors are also beautiful and for the price, we went for them in our remodel. Considering we have a 100# dog, they are holding up quite well.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:31:58 PM

Originally Posted By mcnielsen:
We used both, and there is no substitute for our original maple floors, but the engineered floors are also beautiful and for the price, we went for them in our remodel. Considering we have a 100# dog, they are holding up quite well.


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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:36:08 PM
If you can't use solid wood because of your sub-floor, or you can't afford it, that's fine. No big deal.
But don't say engineered is just as good as solid. It's fucking plywood, for God's sake.

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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:39:41 PM
What about in a basement, on the concrete floor, and the humidity is like 85% unless I run a dehumidifier?
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:47:00 PM
I put hardwood in my kitchen/dining room and the master bedroom. I put the engineered wood above the cement floor in the den downstairs.

So, I suggest "both". Actually, I would say hardwood over engineered unless you had to.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 2:49:36 PM
Originally Posted By DriftPunch:
This thread is relevant to my interests...

The 'hollow' feel that many are talking about is likely a result of walking on cheaper floating laminates.


Bingo!





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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:05:49 PM
Originally Posted By whiskerz:
Solid . I have solid at my house Cherry and Oak. my GF has engineered, the engineered shows dents from the kid leaning back and sitting on 2 legs of the chair . I had mine sanded and refinished once in 20 years , the Cherry was actually removed from another house .


Our current home has the engineered floors for just over 7 years now.
Now wear issues at all.
I have no idea why I would sand them down.
We have 5 bedrooms, den, living, dining, halls and foyer all wood with a good bit of traffic as the wife and I work out of the house.
The 5 baths, kitchen, breakfast room and my office are tiled.





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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:22:50 PM
Solid floor looks better, more natural. It will last longer and doesn't buckle as much as engineered wood will. Both will expand and contract, solid less that engineered. (You must acclimate the flooring inside your house for a few days before installing.) Engineered wood is cheaper, but looks great too. you can sand the crap out of solid plank flooring, some have up to 1/4" before you get to the tongue and groove. The majority of engineered flooring on the other hand is a very thin layer, whcih can be sanded, but with the risk of weakening the top layer of the plywood. And they have been known to chip off peices if you sand too much. I know the engineered can be sanded in some cases, but remember the 1# reason to sand a floor down is because it has expanded from water damage, and the seams are showing lippage or are buckling. When you are sanding an uneven surface you tend to take a little more off of areas that have expanded. Both are in another category all together of laminate flooring. stay AWAY from that crap. unless it's a small rental apartment and you get it for 50cents per sq.ft and you install it yourself, avoid it like the plague. Solid wood will be more resilient to moisture. I've seen how easily engineered floor will buckle and the seems expand from water damage. Laminate floor is a joke. The advantage to engineered flooring is that you can find it from $2-4 per sqft. while solid can run up to $9 per sqft.

Here are some examples that I have installed:
There is some bamboo in there somewhere, stay away from
that too. They harvest it too soon and its very soft. The lighter the
color the weaker it is.
I bet you can tell which ones are solid wood floor.


















captaincha0s
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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:30:38 PM
forgot to mention, if you are going over concrete then use a good moisture barrier/sound proofing and glue down. it will last
forever and will NOT creak or make hollow noises. nail down wood flooring on a wood subfloor is the killer. For most apartment buildings 1/4" cork underlament will do depending where you live. Some parts of South FL don't allow cork and require soundproofing rating of STC 25 and an IIC of 17 or higher.
Dr_Ripp
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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:45:01 PM
I just installed 400 sq ft of 3/4" solid hickory in our bedroom and closet. We love it.

Pre-finished with a 50 year warranty.

Some of the engineered is ok, and like others have said depending on the install it may be the only way to go.

I personally have put in only solid hardwood. I really think you can tell the difference. We bought our hickory for $4.30 a sq. and the engineered doesn't run much cheaper. YMMV
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Angelshare1
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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:49:09 PM
You need engineered floors. Sounds like you don't like hard wood floors. Creaky and not perfect flatness add character to an old home.
Brians_45
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Posted: 10/6/2009 3:57:16 PM
We went with solid 3/4" thick Australian Cypress. It is glued down to the concrete. We have enjoyed it so far and have no complaints. I think they were well worth the money.

Pic from when we were moving in:
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IMHerDad
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Posted: 10/6/2009 4:17:48 PM
resell value anyone?

real wood wins out over engineered any day of the week
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Posted: 10/6/2009 4:29:29 PM
Just did the about 600 sq feet of DIY oak prefinished hardwood flooring. We used Bruce "Marsh" 3.25-inch width flooring.

As you say there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Went with hardwood because of its proven track record.

Cost me about $1600 for the wood and another $200 for a Harbor Freight flooring nailer and staples. Would have cost $5-7K if we had someone else do it.

Glad we did it. I don't miss the carpet.
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Posted: 10/6/2009 4:37:40 PM
You could not tell the difference unless you were able to look at a cross section EXCEPT that the engineered floors actually appeared to retain better installation after the years since they didn't expand/contract as much.


All wood moves in varying degrees. Engineered wood (plywood) moves the least. Just wondering how the engineered wood does when the top layer, the real wood is moving at a different rate than the bottom layer (plywood/laminate).

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
H. L. Mencken
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