Solid v engineered oak flooring: which should you choose?

There is little to choose between solid oak flooring and engineered hardwood oak flooring in terms of looks. However, they are manufactured very differently. Here we explain the pros and cons.

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Solid hardwood flooring

Solid hardwood flooring is made from an individual solid piece of wood, cut out of the tree trunk and then sawn into planks by a machine. There are variations available, depending on the type of wood you want.

Solid hardwood flooring suits areas of high use, as it is possible to sand it down and refinish it multiple times. However, the planks may be damaged by moisture and will expand in a cold room, and shrink in a hot room. This type of flooring is therefore not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, conservatories or places with underfloor heating.

Engineered hardwood flooring

Some people mistake engineered hardwood flooring for laminate flooring. However, engineered hardwood flooring consists of multiple layers. A top and bottom layer of natural wood sandwich a central part typically built out of five to eight layers of plywood, crisscrossed in different directions.

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Engineered hardwood flooring does not expand and contract much, ensuring that it suits rooms subject to moisture, like the kitchen and bathroom. Conservatories and rooms with underfloor heating are also suitable.

The disadvantage of this type is that it cannot be sanded and refinished as often as solid hardwood flooring – perhaps three or four times in its lifetime – so it does not suit areas with high footfall.

Engineered flooring is available from

For more on wooden floors see:

Your subfloor’s moisture level

It is vital that you measure the moisture level of your subfloor. This is the layer that bisects decorative flooring such as wood, carpet or tile, and the structural parts (joists and foundations). If laying a solid hardwood floor, you need a reading of 2-3% maximum moisture content, as well as 35-40% humidity. If your percentages are greater than 2-3%, then an engineered hardwood floor would be best. Check with the manufacturer since a floor’s maximum moisture level can vary.


Solid hardwood flooring usually costs more than engineered hardwood flooring, due to the high wood content. If it fits your criteria, it can be a worthwhile lifetime investment. However, if your budget has constraints, choose engineered hardwood flooring as the upfront cost is less.