Hardwood flooring versus engineered wood floors in kitchen

kateydid29May 13, 2013

Our new granite countertops were installed in December and our backsplash last week (will post pics soon-we are in the process of changing out the outlets and wall switches and their covers).

Next up: flooring.

Right now, we have laminate in the kitchen; it actually looked really nice 12 years ago when we built the house and it worked well with 4 dogs and 2 cats. Not so much anymore, though!

We are trying to decide between solid hardwood floors or engineered wood floors for the kitchen. Although we were happy with our laminate, we know many folks are not a fan of it and it is not considered a positive selling point for a house. Is engineered hardwood looked at the same way as laminate? Lesser quality and/or less desirable than solid hardwood?

Am just starting to research this and know next to nothing about these types of floors.



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I'm not sure you could put solid hardwood in an existing kitchen. You need a good plywood subfloor for solid wood, and you may not have that. If not, your floor will get so high that you won't be able to fit your dishwasher under the counter.

Engineered hardwood is a floating floor, like your laminate. I'm not a fan of wood in the kitchen (I'm paranoid about water damage), but lots of people don't worry about it.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Am not sure about the plywood. Have been told we would need different sub flooring if we went with tile. Haven't talked to anyone about wood floors yet. Will ask about the dishwasher, I never thought about that issue. Thanks, annkh.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:45PM
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I would consider engineered somewhere between laminate and solid, with a slight edge towards solid. It can be a very stable floor, in some cases more so than solid, but the big drawback is that it can only be re- finished a couple of times before sanding through the veneer... and engineered is not the same as floating, it can be nailed or glued down

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:30PM
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We have had both. It could depend on your climate but we live where the climates change (Canada) and I prefer the engineered hardwood floors. I found the thicker solid hardwood to shrink more and leave large gaps in winter even with the humidifier working properly, the engineered is more stable.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:31PM
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We are in northern indiana, so get somewhat extreme changes in temperature, humidity, etc...We've been tracking th ehumidity level in our house over the last two weeks and it's stayed around 55 per cent. Is there also a limit to how many times solid hardwood can be sanded and restained?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:38PM
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It depends on the product. When we were shopping for wood floors that would extend to our kitchen, there were flooring companies that refused to put solid hardwood in our kitchen due to the changing humidity levels, etc.... One highly regarded company only dealt with engineered hardwood in those cases, especially with the wide planks, for the stability. It seems engineered floors are the new hardwoods, especially in places where there could be moisture.

There are differences, though. Although an engineered floor would be more stable and less prone to cupping or gapping, some are so thin, it may as well be a laminate. We went with a Hallmark Hardwood engineered floor that offered as much wood face for refinishing as the solid hardwood. It is guaranteed for at least three sanding and refinishes, which I won't see in my lifetime. We have had the floor for nearly a year, and it has held up to three active boys and a parade of neighborhood children. I have been very happy with it.

Don't think a quality engineered floor is going to come cheaper. We paid just as much for our engineered hardwood floor as we would have for a solid wood. It seemed the logical choice for the kitchen though, and water is on it all the time with kids and water at the fridge, sink, etc... So far, so good!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2015 at 9:52PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Your foundation type and other factors decides flooring thpe. You don't override a concrete slab or 60% humidity swings with personal prejudice buzzwords unless you want a disaster on your hands. ''Solid wood'' is a stupid term to get hung up on. Find the best quality for your home's conditions and stay away from the $3 LL Chinese quality ilk.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 4:35AM
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Didn't realize how old the original post was.


I installed site-finished rift-sawn oak floor (over radiant heat), and it's only been 2 years and I'm not happy with the slight damage that the stools are doing (when kids drag them in/out).


I've seen a GW kitchen who installed wood-look tiles, and I wished I researched that more, because it looks GREAT!!!

Can anyone find the GWebber who just recently did a u-shape kitchen with all sorts of built-ins with gorgeous wood-tile flooring?

Found it:

scrappy25's gorgeous kitchen with wood-look tile flooring

Flooring; Marrazzi Gunstock Oak porcelain tile, Home Depot


-->> So just a thought: consider thinking outside of the box.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 6:21AM
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Oh my gosh I was just going to poll how many had solid vs. engineered in their kitchens. Funny this old thread came up. My DH and I love the wood look tiles (putting in master bath). But he is wood man (built a wooden canoe by hand!) and I'm debating on engineered vs. solid myself. Would anyone care if I posted a poll, or is this redundant? I'm curious as to what route the majority has gone on here.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 11:53AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Once again, it's not about preference as to which type suits your home's constuction. For untold millions with slab construction, engineered has been the go to product for that application. For decades.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 12:33PM
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Sophie I have wood sub floor for my main floor, so I can go either way. Honestly I would just go the engineered route for durability sake, but my last and only experience with it was one with a fake shiny finish on it, it lost a lot of the wood quality that's so desirable. I heard the people that purchased that home tried to have the floors refinished and it turned out terrible. Yikes.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 3:39PM
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We are going through this now. We had a bunch of different companies come out to give quotes, and they unanimously said that engineered wood was best considering our subfloor. It was the only thing they all agreed on, so we're rolling with it. Also, they all strongly advised that I getting wider boards (at least 5" wide), also because of our subfloor. So you may not really have a choice in this matter. We certainly didn't.

Also, I have just been schooled in floor quality, and apparently not all solid wood floors are the same. Some are manufactured in such a way that you can't refinish them much at all before you wear the floor down to the tongue-and-groove connection, and that's the end of your floor. That was quite a surprise to me, so just FYI. The appeal to me of solid wood is the ability to refinish it over and over and not have the floor end up in the landfill in ten years.

We are getting an engineered floor with a thick enough wear layer (the top layer of the engineered floor that is made of solid wood) that it can be refinished 3-4 times. At that thickness, it's roughly the same price as solid wood floors, except the engineered won't be at odds with our subfloor. There are thinner wear layers (cheaper) and thicker wear layers ($$$$$$). Ours at $5.19/sq ft. was maybe the high end of the mid-range in one of the most expensive areas of the country.

The floor itself is REALLY lovely. Zero complaints or hesitation about how nice it looks compared to solid wood. They all look the same. The top layer of engineered is solid wood, same as the top layer of solid wood floors.

You can glue-down, float, or nail-down engineered floors, and there are a variety of underlayments. I saw someone higher up said that you can only float engineered floors, and that not is absolutely not true. Ours are getting glued down, but we could have had them nailed or floated.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 12:04AM
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Jillius that is very helpful. What type and brand of wood did you go with? Also what is your thickness? The refinishing is important to me as well, I want to know if my floor gets destroyed by heavy use I can refinish and not replace. My first home we refinished the beaten up wood floors and they looked literally like new. It was a great feeling...and savings. Is there a reason you chose glued down vs. the other options?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 5:22AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I've dealt with 30 year old engineered floors with the original finish, and a couple of screening and topcoating over it. If you take care of floors and don't let kids play roller hockey indoors, you too will never need to do a sand and refinish. The idea of "refinishing" as a criteria for choosing your floors is not really a valid concern. Choose a quality major brand, and you won't have any worries. No LL or box store crapola. $5-6 a square foot and up is where the good stuff starts. Under that, you can get some OK buys, but you're generally gonna have to do a lot more homework to make sure.

So, what does "taking care of your floors" entail? Vacuuming a couple of times a week. Not allowing food and drink outside of the kitchen. Using rugs at all entries to capture the dirt from outside. Being a no shoes indoor household helps a lot too, but I'm not going to get into that classic arguement. Don't mop your floors. You can damp clean them, but people get all hung up over sloshing water on top of wood, and that's just a comple no no. Use something like a Bona cleaner a couple of times a month, max. Every other type of cleaning should be spot cleaning. But with food and drink confined to the appropriate spot, spills are minimized. Abrasion from debris is minimized by rugs that you frequently clean.

And in 8-12 years, you do a refresher of a screening and recoating. You don't need to sand down to bare wood at all. Unless you don't do the above and wear through to bare wood.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 8:13AM
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I have site-finished red oak floors, installed 8 years ago. They have held up great. However, installation took some time and the 3 top coats were very stinky. I've been considering taking up the carpet in my bedrooms and installing wood floors, but I'm not looking forward to the site-finishing part. The one thing I don't like about engineered/prefinished floors is the microbevel they all seem to have. I understand why a microbevel is used, but I don't like the look at all.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 8:24AM
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Sophie, do you have any specific brand recommendations for engineered wood flooring? I'm ripping up the carpet in my boys' video game room in the basement and having engineered wood installed with an area rug. I put some in their bedrooms several years back and it has held up very well. I believe I bought it at Costco!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 8:47AM
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Gennifer B

Happyallison, we are wrapping up a kitchen renovation right now. Cause: the waterline to the ice maker in the fridge that leaked for a few weeks undetected behind our cabinets, completely damaging our wood floors and causing mold.

Needless to say, we replaced the hardwood with wood-look tiles. ;)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 8:59AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Shaw, Mohawk, Bruce, Mannington, Anderson, and Columbia all produce quality products. They all produce budget products that are less nice as well. A good actual flooring store can help you find a product that suits your home's needs, and they can show you the differences in quality. Occasionally a manufacturer will have a customer that does a large volume with them and can negotiate some special deals, and that can mean occasionally that you can find something under the $5 range that will be 50+ year install expectation worthy.

What will make any expenditure have less of a return is choosing a trendy product that goes out of fashion. Handscraping. Dark floors. Bleached or grayed floors. Those are all fads that will not stand the test of time and that someone will want to change sooner than later. Changing colors does mean sanding off the finish. And the handscraping. And all of what you bought the floor for in the first place.

Stick with domestic hardwoods in close to their natural tones, neither too light nor too dark if you want the most versatility over time, and the best return for your expense. If you treat your floor like the latest harem pants and crop top fad, then you really won't have enough longevity of use out of them to justify any expenditure. Remember that the cheap trendy oh so fashionable crap is usually full of formaldehyde that you don't want to expose to your family.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 9:27AM
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Thank you! I am currently buying from a wholesaler that sells to builders and decorators. My costs are significantly cheaper but they don't give a ton of customer service. Here is info from a sample I brought home...would this be worth considering as far as quality?

1 Like    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 10:46AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Not nearly enough information, but looks potentially "light" in the real world requirements. Brands matter. Lines within brands matter. Source of manufacturing matters.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 11:14AM
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I agree with what Linelle wrote above. I think engineered floors can look great, but to my eye site-finished solid wood floors have a more classic look. And I paid a very hefty premium to have them installed in my kitchen (it has been the greatest splurge of my kitchen reno so far).

1 Like    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 11:46AM
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