When you are looking around for ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs, you should think about the insulating properties of different materials around your home. If you live in a cold environment, your walls are likely already insulated. Your floor might be insulated as well. Insulating in the attic is pretty common in most environments. However, the materials of the floors and walls can insulate as well. Every piece of building material has an R-value. That value is the resistance of each item to thermal transfer. For example, air has a very low R-value. Heat easily moves through the air. Fiberglass insulation has a very high R-value; heat does not easily move. That’s what makes it good insulation. If one room is hot and an adjoining room is cold, insulation with a high R-value keeps the hot room hot and the cold room cold. Your hardwood flooring has an R-value as well.
Engineered Hardwood vs Solid Hardwood
It might seem that engineered hardwood would obviously have the highest R-value because it’s made of several different layers glued together. However, that’s not always the case. Engineered hardwood can be made with core layers of softwood, hardwood, or medium density fiberboard. The type of core layer will have the most effect on the insulating properties of the plank. Typically, engineered hardwood ranges in R-value from about 0.250 to 0.750. For comparison, carpet typically has an R-value around 1.1 and insulation is about 3.000 and up.
Solid hardwood’s insulating properties depend on the wood itself. Certain types of wood are more dense than others. Denser wood will actually be less resistant to heat transfer since there are fewer pockets of air that can trap the heat. Most oak planks have a value around 0.700. Maple values are around 0.750.
Which provides better Insulation?
As you can see from the values of solid hardwoods such as oak and the wide range of values from engineered hardwood, the best option will depend on several factors. In general, solid hardwood will likely insulate better than engineered hardwood. There is one caveat, though. Engineered hardwood can be designed to insulate better. Choosing different materials for the base layers can drastically change the R-value of the hardwood. To that end, you can buy hardwood designed specifically to insulate.
So, if your main consideration when choosing a hardwood floor is the insulating properties, you should probably choose an engineered hardwood designed to insulate. If one of those isn’t available, a solid hardwood will likely be the next best option.
Find a Detroit Hardwood Installation Company
The experts are best equipped to answer this question because it depends on your unique needs. Hardwood floor installation companies have likely seen your exact situation in the past and can give you advice on which product will work best!