Solid vs Engineered Hardwood
Solid Hardwood Flooring
As the name implies, it’s solid wood through and through. It’s generally 3/4″ thick and can be sanded and refinished multiple times. Solid hardwood will generally last long – often over a century. It gives you flexibility to change the color over time or easily repair it if you have scratches or water damage. My general advice is that when you can, use solid hardwood (or buy a house that already has solid hardwood.)
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood is still real hardwood flooring (not to be confused with laminate flooring). But, the top layer is just a veneer; the rest of the wood is done in layers, often similar to plywood.
Some big advantages of engineered wood includes that it can be installed directly on top of concrete and it can be installed in below grade situations (e.g. basements or dens that are below ground or partially below the ground. You can also install many engineered woods on top of radiant heat.
A big disadvantage is that most engineered woods can’t be sanded and refinished. Most engineered woods that I see installed have a thin wear layer and many are floating, and both of these aspects prevent refinishing. So, once the wood is worn down, you need to rip up and replacement.
Checking out and knowing about the sub-floor is the single most important item you should check for as it may define what type of wood you and can’t install, and it can have big budget implications.