How to Tell the Difference Between Engineered Hardwood Flooring and Solid Hardwood Flooring

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On a big picture level, there are two basic kinds of hardwood flooring: solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. If you’re considering new hardwood floors in Detroit, it’s important to know the difference. Solid hardwood is exactly what it sounds like. Pieces of hardwood are cut and then milled into planks for a floor. Typically, they’re about three-quarters of an inch thick. That gives you plenty of material to sand and refinish if need be. Engineered hardwood is made of three or more layers of wood that are bonded together under extreme heat. The differences between these two different types of wood aren’t aesthetic. They tend to look about the same once they’re installed. The differences are practical. That makes it very important for you to know different ways to tell them apart.

Look at the Sides

The simplest way to tell the difference between the two types of wood is to pick up a loose plank. Look at the side of the plank. If it is one solid piece of wood with a continuous grain, it’s solid hardwood. If you see different layers of wood, it’s engineered hardwood. The layers of wood will look sandwiched together.

If you can’t pick up a loose plank, you’ll need different methods. For example, if you’re considering buying a house and the homeowner claims the floor is one type of wood, you’ll need to know how to tell the difference.

Use a Mirror

If you can’t pry up a piece of hardwood flooring, you should look for spaces where the construction would be lax. Look around cabinets, near baseboards, and in closets. These are all the places where the installer would have had to cut the boards by hand to fit them into tight spaces. That means there’s a higher chance there might be some space between the wall and the floor. Use a mirror to get a look between the floor and the wall. You’ll be looking for the layers that indicate engineered hardwood.

Use a Fingernail

In many cases, solid hardwood is finished with polyurethane. Engineered hardwood is finished with an aluminum solution that is baked on. Polyurethane is a plastic that can sometimes be dented with a fingernail. The baked aluminum oxide typically cannot. So, you should find an inconspicuous spot to press a thumbnail into the floor. If it dents, it doesn’t guarantee you have solid hardwood but it’s not as common to find engineered hardwood with a polyurethane finish.

These three methods have been serving prospective home buyers well for years. Still need help? Call your local hardwood floor company, Natural Beauty Wood Floors, for help determining which is right for you!

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