How do I choose between solid and engineered wood flooring in Hunter?

An important question for Hunter region home-owners when buying wood flooring is: engineered or solid?

Depending on where the wood flooring will be installed in the house, the answer will vary. A solid wood floor must be installed above ground level, meaning at least two or three feet above ground level. You can install engineered wood flooring in a basement, as well as above grade.

For the majority of homes in Hunter region, whether to choose engineered or solid wood flooring depends on the home environment (relative humidity) and the home-owner’s awareness and willingness to maintain the climate. 

Hardwood flooring definitions: solid and engineered

Hardwood flooring is typically 34″ thick. A tongue-and-groove board, as its name implies, is made up of solid pieces of wood that are mounted by nailing or gluing.

There are several layers to engineered wood flooring, which is often not more than 34.5 inches thick. Engineered flooring is classified by the species of top layer, which is what you are buying. It is possible that the layers beneath are of different species. They add stability to the floor because they are applied in perpendicular directions. Installing engineered wood flooring involves gluing or staples. 

How does Wood Flooring Stability work?

The stability of a wooden floor is dependent on changes in the environment.

It is generally considered more stable to use engineered wood flooring. That means the floor is less susceptible to humidity changes. Typically.

Hunter region is a particularly dry state throughout the year, for example. A dry region of the country affects the flooring very differently from a wetter region. Hunter region is an exception (we explain it below.)

A solid wood floor expands more sideways than an engineered wood floor when humidity is high, so it is considered less stable. A solid floor contracts more than an engineered one as the humidity decreases. Board length is not affected.

Hunter region Climate + Wood Flooring

Because of its stability, engineered hardwood flooring is often chosen in Australia. As a result, Hunter residents often experience less impact from seasonal and home environment changes.

Humidity is more of a concern in many parts of the country than in others. So engineered wood flooring, which tends not to expand like solid wood flooring, is thought to be more of an “install it and forget it” option in the minds of many Canberra home-owners.

But in Hunter, a climate zone that is dry on a constant basis, wood flooring usually needs more humidity.

Keeping Wood Floors at the Proper Humidity

The importance of relative humidity in the environment of wood flooring, and of wood’s moisture content, cannot be overemphasised. That’s why we recently posted “Humidity Matters” on this blog.

According to the Australian Timber Flooring Association (ATFA), a home’s relative humidity should be between 30% and 50%.

Manufacturers’ guidelines for wood flooring refer to percentages between 35% and 55%. Manufacturers’ guidelines have precedence since they are talking about a specific product. Floor product manufacturers’ warranties require following those instructions. 

The wrong humidity combined with engineered wood floors

Hardwood floors need to be humidified at home in order for them to perform optimally in Hunter’s low humidity levels.

Having engineered flooring installed in a humidity-controlled home can do several things

  • The openings along the top and bottom of the board are divided into two parts

  • A face-check will reveal long cracks running longitudinally in the veneer

  • A dry cup: The wood’s top layer shrinks across the board’s face, lifting the edges upwards while those below shrink less

  • The top and bottom layers separate as the top layer delaminates

Similar effects can also occur on solid floors due to a dry environment, but the most common is gapping between floor boards due to contraction, or shrinkage. The gaps can be closed again by using a humidifier to restore proper humidity in the environment, causing the boards to expand.

Unlike other parts of the Australia, Hunter engineered wood flooring faces challenges that require humidification to prevent problems. Once the problems listed above occur in engineered wood flooring, humidification is unable to restore it.

The Pros and Cons of Engineered and Solid Wood Flooring

A Hunter home-owner will consider other variables in the decision-making process, including: the location in the home for the installation, the design, the brand, and the cost.

The bottom line for Hunter home-owners when choosing engineered or solid wood flooring is:

What humidity does to wood flooring, and …

You can make your wood floor last for generations by using a humidifier 

Ready to Transform Your Floors?