Engineered vs Solid Wood: Choosing a Hardwood Floor

Bamboo FlooringWhen homeowners want the look of hardwood floors but prefer an eco-friendlier option, they generally turn to two flooring substitutes: bamboo flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. This article will explore the differences between hardwood and bamboo flooring, what they are made of exactly, how they are manufactured, and the various pros and cons of each. It’s a bamboo flooring vs. hardwood engineered flooring showdown.


Engineered Hardwood

Some people assume engineered, and laminate floors are the same thing, but they are not. Laminate floors are made of plastic layers glued together, while engineered hardwood floors are made of a solid wood top layer glued to an HDF or multi plywood substrate. Solid wood floors are made of sections of a single hardwood such as maple or oak, and the planks are actually a continuous piece of wood. In the case of solid bamboo floors, often strands of bamboo are.

Engineered hardwood floors can be made up of several wood layers or a top layer of wood with an HDF substrate. The top layer may be cut from just about any wood species but is thin and glued down to the section underneath it. Since the top layer of engineered hardwood is real wood, these floors appear identical to solid wood floors. When the wear layer is thick enough, engineered hardwoods can also be refinished. They’re typically installed using the floating method, where planks can be snapped together like a puzzle without any need for glue or nails.

Maintaining engineered hardwoods is the same as solid hardwood floors. They should be swept regularly to keep them free from dirt and other debris as over time; the debris may scratch the surface. Spills should be wiped up immediately, and harsh chemicals should never be used to clean.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Pros

One of the benefits of engineered hardwood over solid hardwood floors is they have more dimensional stability and can be installed as a floating floor, including in basements. These floors are not as susceptible to moisture, swelling, or warping as solid wood floors. They’re also great for DIY’ers, cutting down considerably on installation costs.

And speaking of costs, the price of these floors is also a big selling point as engineered floors typically cost less than traditional hardwood floors, and since they use less wood, they’re often better for the environment.

Bamboo Flooring VS Hardwood Flooring Comparison Chart

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Cons

You’ll need to do a fair amount of homework to make sure you find a manufacturer who produces a “solid” product (pun intended!). Some producers manufacture planks with much too thin veneers, which won’t allow the homeowner to ever sand and refinish. This cuts down on the life of your floors significantly. Some manufacturers will also try and cut corners using inferior core layers made of regular fiberboard, not high-density. This can greatly compromise the stability of your floors.




Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo is a beautiful alternative to traditional hardwood floors. These floors are known for their strength and durability and also their resistance to bugs and water. The hardness of bamboo planks can start at 1,500 (carbonized horizontal) on the Janka hardness scale, and newer manufacturing methods like strand woven bamboo flooring can score upwards of 4,000. These impressive numbers indicate that strand woven bamboo is several times harder than oak, maple, and Brazilian cherry. Bamboo comes in a and construction that are comparable to hardwood.

Bamboo planks are composed of strands of raw material that are weaved together and then pressed. The strips are first boiled to remove any starch or sugars, then dried and planed. Natural bamboo is a very light color similar to blonde. It also goes through a carbonizing process where the bamboo strips are steamed under controlled pressure and heat, which creates a rich brown color. Bamboo can also be stained in many different colors, and it comes in many hand-scraped and distressed styles.

Like engineered hardwood floors, they can also be installed using either a glue-down method, nail down, or floating method. Still, care should be taken only to use engineered bamboo flooring in a floating installation as some brands have a nasty reputation for having shrinkage problems – but if you do your research and choose a quality brand, you’ll love these floors.




Bamboo Pros

Bamboo is very versatile and comes in a wide variety of stains and styles.

Strand woven bamboo floors are highly durable, eco-friendly, and much harder than most hardwoods.

They are the most environmentally friendly floors on the market today because bamboo has a quick regenerative rate. Bamboo can typically renew itself in as little as 5 – 7 years. Compare that to hardwoods, which can take as long as 30+ years to grow.

Bamboo floors are installed just like traditional hardwoods and are also easy to clean and maintain. Strand woven bamboo will typically never need refinishing in a residential environment.

Bamboo makes an excellent choice for high traffic areas such as kitchens, powder rooms, laundry rooms, entryways, and people who suffer from allergies.

Installation of bamboo floors is a fairly quick and easy process, and generally, it does not require sanding and multiple coats of toxic varnish.

Bamboo costs a fraction of what traditional hardwood floors cost, making it a great choice for homeowners on a budget.

Bamboo Cons

Like engineered and solid hardwoods, bamboo manufacturers should be researched before making a buying decision as there are many inferior bamboo products on the market. Some brands shrink a lot more than others, and a simple web search on the brand name and “shrinkage” or “complaints” will turn up good information. Although bamboo is a very green choice for your home, all bamboo flooring comes from China. There are no government standards or regulations concerning environmentally-friendly practices, so researching the importer for negative reviews is of utmost importance.

So, is there a clear winner in the bamboo flooring vs. hardwood engineered flooring challenge? Both are more affordable than traditional hardwood floors, both are durable and stand up against moisture, and both can be installed in various ways and by the homeowner. We feel bamboo is the stronger contender because of its superior Janka hardness ranking, exotic beauty, and unparalleled sustainability as a flooring source. Now that you know the differences between hardwood and bamboo flooring, you’re equipped to make the decision that’s best for your home.


If you have any further questions, please contact us!

12 thoughts on “Engineered vs Solid Wood: Choosing a Hardwood Floor”

  1. Of the five or six reviews of this subject I have read, this is the most complete, easy to understand, and useful. Now all I need is a list of reputable manufacturers, which I am sure your site would prohibit—but this review also provides me with the questions I need to take to my flooring supplier. Good work!

  2. We are building a home and with so many decisions to make this article helped us decide which flooring to pick to fit our family of 3 kids and a cat. Now to find a good brand and a great price! :)

  3. I’m trying to decide between Cali-bamboo engineered and all wood bamboo floors (not sure the brand name); both installers are trusted; engineered comes with a 1/4 inch under lay and glued down; all wood is stalled like a hardwood floor. The engineered is 10,000 more for the 1500 sq ft area. What to do

    • Hi Sue!

      We recommend taking a look at !

      As long as the floor is installed properly, there isn’t much of a difference in flooring performance between engineered and solid. Engineered floors sound a bit more “hollow” when you walk on them, but if you get an underlayment with a high STC rating (sound muffling), it’s hard to tell the difference between that and a solid floor. Let us know if you have more questions!

    • Hi Miranda,

      That’s a great question! How floors handle pets is definitely an important consideration when selecting a new floor. Prefinished flooring like our bamboo floors handle accidents like a champ! You can read a little more about that in this article about the best flooring for pet owners. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi, I’m building my house in a tropical island and I need some help on choosing the right hardwood flooring. I really like bamboo flooring for its beauty and light color, but not sure if it’s resistant to denting. Please, which one to choose from?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Yvonne!

      When it comes to hardwood flooring, the Janka Hardness Test is the standard for determining which floors have the highest hardness ratings. Strand woven bamboo ranks higher than just about every other hardwood flooring material, which means it is difficult to dent. Bamboo flooring sounds like it would be the perfect choice for your home!


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