If you love the natural look of timber flooring, but aren’t too keen on the expense, you might be thinking about installing engineered timber flooring instead. But in the battle of solid timber flooring vs engineered flooring, there’s wins and losses on both sides.

In this article, we explain the two types of flooring and compare their most relevant attributes in a handy table, so that you can make the best choice for your home.

What is solid timber flooring?


Solid timber flooring in an apartment

Solid timber flooring is made from timber logs that have been milled and dressed to create floorboards. This means they are a solid piece of wood the entire way through, which is why they’re a more expensive flooring option. They are extremely robust and durable, lasting for 50 years or longer if properly looked after.

Their natural look makes them a popular choice for homes, particularly older Australian homes, with timber types including Australian beech, jarrah, blackbutt, cypress pine, rose gum, and spotted gum.

Solid timber flooring is usually purchased as a raw product, so needs to be sanded and treated after being installed. This is one of its biggest advantages—you can sand and refinish the flooring multiple times to achieve different looks.

What is engineered wood flooring?

A selection of engineering wood flooring

Engineered wood flooring is made up of a thin layer of hardwood bonded to a substrate of plywood. This gives it the natural appearance of solid wooden flooring, but not the same level of durability (although it’s still durable when compared to flooring types like laminate).

Engineered hardwood flooring is much cheaper than solid timber flooring, which has made it popular in recent years. It’s also much less susceptible to warping when compared to solid flooring, so can also be installed in any grade/level of the home where moisture levels may be higher, or where there’s a higher chance of flooding.

This type of flooring should last about 25 years.

Solid timber flooring vs engineered wood flooring

1. Look

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ –  A natural wooden look that is gorgeous and highly desirable.
  • Engineered wood flooring  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – A natural wooden look but without the price tag. Also comes in a variety of other colours.

2. Cost

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️⭐️ – Expensive initial cost, but will last for a long time and may also add value to a home.
  • Engineered wood flooring ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Much cheaper than hardwood, while achieving the same look.

3. Comfort

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️⭐️ – Hardwood isn’t particularly comfortable to walk on, but that’s what rugs were invented for right?
  • Engineered wood flooring ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Can be a little softer than solid timber, but still not particularly comfortable compared to flooring types like carpet.

4. Durability

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ –  Last for a lifetime if properly cared for. Scratches can be fixed with re-sanding and polishing.
  • Engineered wood flooring  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Lasts for decades, so highly durable. Scratches can be fixed with re-sanding and polishing, but just once.

5. Cleaning 

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ –  Can be cleaned easily with a brush or vacuum, and a lightly-damp mop. Check out our article on caring for timber floors to find out more.
  • Engineered wood flooring  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ – Also super-easy to clean and maintain using a brush, vacuum, and mop.

6. Installation

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️ – Hard and slow to install, and will need to be completed by a professional.
  • Engineered wood flooring  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – A professional install is recommended, but this type of flooring can be installed by someone with DIY experience

7. Water Resistance

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️ – Bad for water resistance, so spills will need to be cleaned quickly.
  • Engineered wood flooring  ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Average water resistance, but much better than solid hardwood.

8. Allergies

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Doesn’t trap dust, so great for allergies compared to carpet.
  • Engineered wood flooring  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Doesn’t trap dust, so great for allergies compared to carpet.

9. High Foot Traffic Areas

  • Solid wood flooring ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Hardwood is tough, so is great for busy areas. When it gets worn down, it can be re-sanded and finished like new.
  • Engineered wood flooring  ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Good for high traffic areas, but can only be re-sanded and finished once, so may need to be replaced sooner.