As the name suggests, engineered wood flooring is artificial, and only its top layer (usually 3- 5 mm thick) is solid wood. The rest of the material is usually plywood.
Cross Section of Solid Oak Wood (Left) vs. Engineered Wood (Right)
On the other hand, solid wood flooring is made of 100% natural wood. The more commonly used solid wood flooring in Singapore is Burmese Teak wood and White Oak wood. This means that “Solid Burmese Teak flooring” refers to a flooring material made of 100% Burmese Teak wood.
Solid Wood vs. Engineered Wood – what are the different factors considered for my floor?
1. Width of Planks (Aesthetics) vs. Price
Generally, wider planks are preferred as house owners can enjoy better-looking natural grains and fewer joints on the floor. However, the wider the planks, the more expensive the material costs. Engineered wood planks are usually wider than solid wood planks. Solid wood flooring is typically made of wood strips of size 2 inches to 4 inches wide, while engineered wood flooring is usually 6 to 8 inches wide. This is why solid wood flooring is generally slightly cheaper than engineered wood.
Solid Wood narrow planks vs. Engineered Wood wide planks
2. Maintenance in the Long Run
Our general rule of thumb is to use the least plywood possible. This is because plywood is vulnerable to water and termite in the long run. The Cellulose material in plywood is beautiful to termites.
Plywood Damaged by Water
Plywood Damaged by Termites
Engineered wood flooring has some plywood materials and requires a subfloor between the concrete and the top flooring. Ultimately, this can be a source of concern for house owners. On the other hand, solid wood flooring may not require a plywood subfloor, depending on the materials. Burmese Teak wood can be installed without plywood on a screeded cement floor. While there is no waterproof and termite-proof solid wood, Burmese Teak wood is quite resistant to termites due to its abundant natural oil inside the wood. Combined with Burmese Teak’s cheaper rate relative to engineered wood, these may explain why solid Burmese Teak wood flooring is most prevalent in Singapore, at least amongst other wood materials.
It is also worth remembering that the top layer of Engineered Wood is usually only 2-3 mm. This means that we can only sand and varnish engineered wood flooring once or twice over its lifespan at our homes. While Solid Wood flooring typically has a thickness of 10 mm or thicker, only some of the thickness can be sanded. We can only sand down Solid Wood flooring before the tongue and groove system, which is in the centre of the wood; this allowance is still more than what we have with Engineered Wood.
In conclusion, both Solid Wood Flooring and Engineered Wood Flooring have pros and cons when compared. Engineered Wood flooring in Singapore suits house owners who prioritise aesthetics more. In contrast, Solid Wood flooring in Singapore is ideal for those who prioritize practicality and value for money more.
Wider Engineered Wood Planks (Left) and Narrower Solid Wood Planks (Right)