Homeowners may have some misconceptions about their wood flooring options, as some might assume that engineered hardwood means artificial wood; the term "engineered" might make them assume that the wood is actually a vinyl or laminate material instead of real wood. In truth, engineered hardwood floors simply have a top layer of a particular type of wood such as cherry or mahogany, and then a bottom layer of something much more economical such as plywood. Genuine hardwood means that the entire plank is made of one type of wood, so it's a solid wood piece; this is why genuine hardwood is often much more expensive than engineered hardwood. If you're thinking of getting wood floors for your home, note why engineered hardwood may be the better option overall, aside from the cost savings.
Even treated hardwood is going to expand and contract over the years as it absorbs moisture from the air. When solid hardwood floors are installed, contractors might actually leave some space between the floorboards and the walls to allow for this expansion, but this change in shape can still put pressure on the walls of your home and the subfloor. In turn, this can cause damage to your home overall.
However, engineered hardwood has little to no expansion as the plywood under the top layer is not as likely to absorb moisture. Plywood is made of thin sheets of wood that are attached with an adhesive and this adhesive acts as a barrier to absorbing moisture. In turn, engineered hardwood floors may have less risk of causing damage to your home. They are then also the better choice for areas of the home that may see more moisture, such as basements or attics and upper levels that often trap heat and humidity.
Solid hardwood needs to be nailed, glued, or otherwise adhered to the subfloor of your home, and even experienced contractors can find the work to be a challenge. However, engineered hardwood doesn't need to be attached to the subfloor at all; some planks come with tongue and groove sides so that they actually snap together and then float over the subfloor. This can be good for older homes that may settle and sink and for those who want to install their own flooring. Not only is this more cost-effective when you have the floor installed, but it can also mean easily replacing any damaged planks yourself, if they should eventually get chipped or stained.