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Hardwood Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring {Ask the Readers}

The last few weeks I have been in the middle of choosing cabinets, faucets, counter tops, paint, and more. There are so many decisions that I want to get right because I know this is a kitchen I will live with for a very long time.

When it comes to a project like this, or buying a house, I think we all kind of wish the budget was wide open. In other words, not there at all so we could get whatever we wanted. But the reality is that there is almost always a budget. We get some things we want and other things we compromise on.

Right now it is flooring for me. I am at the point that I would rather spend my money on cabinets and counter tops and compromise a little on flooring.

I want, and would love, hardwood floors throughout my downstairs, but I don’t love the cost that it would involve. I found an engineered hardwood that both my husband and I really like. It is the one pictured above. It is cheaper and we like it, but it is engineered hardwood, not regular old fashioned type hardwood flooring.

So I would love to hear your thoughts on hardwood vs engineered hardwood flooring? And for those of you that have done a project like this before, how did you decide what was worth spending the money on and what was worth compromising on? 

And just a note on the carpet in the picture above. That is not a carpet we are looking at. That is the 15 year old berber carpet that is under the dining room table that I will be so glad to see gone. I could write a whole post on why it is not wise to put carpet under a table. Just about any flooring has to be better than carpet under a table, right. 🙂

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. We added a family room on to our house about 7 years ago. My husband chose to put in hardwood flooring, and since the family room in attached to the kitchen, decided to do the hardwood in the kitchen too. I was a little doubtful, because I was afraid of scratches. We owned a house with engineered wood flooring and did not like it. Scratches showed up horribly on it. So on this project we decided on teak flooring. Yes, it is very expensive. But supposedly the hardest wood flooring you can buy. I absolutely love it. Yes, it does have scratches, but we call them adding character! I only use Bona Hardwood floor cleaner on it. So easy to take care of. Now I want to put the hardwood all through the house.

  2. Jessica Griggs says

    We just replaced all our all old carpet, and laminate flooring for hardwood laminate flooring. We shopped around for prices and found it a good deal at Lumber Liquidators. My husband also put them down as well, although it was time consuming for him to do because i was little to no help because im almost due. I love them, they have changed the entire look of our home.

  3. When we moved in, our main floor was carpet and there was vinyl in the entry/front hall. I couldn’t wait to change it, especially after one daughter dumped a whole container of flour on the carpet. We did hardwood on the entire floor. I love it. That being said, I kind of wish the layout of our main floor was different so I could have done something else in the kitchen. I probably would have done tile. If your kitchen is like mine, water gets on the floor when we’re loading the dishwasher, food gets spilled, etc. I don’t know anything about the engineered hardwood so I can’t help you compare. Oh, and I was super happy to get rid of the carpet in the dining room!

  4. We have the engineered hardwood flooring in our home. I have had real hardwood in the past and it was so easily scratched and since we have a small dog we went with the engineered and LOVE IT! Everyone thinks it’s the real thing and I don’t have to worry about it.

  5. Go with the engineered–if it is in fact, hardwood on top, and you aren’t using the term incorrectly and it is really not hardwood on top. Most people won’t sand down their hardwoods but once while living in a house (right before selling!).

    • Yes, what I am looking at is hardwood on the top. I made sure of that part. And I agree, I doubt we would ever want to sand it down, except maybe once anyway. Thanks for adding that.

  6. I have laminate “Tile” floor in my kitchen and hallway. I hate it. What they didn’t tell me when I bought it was that it couldn’t get wet. Not even a little. They knew it was going in a kitchen. I now have warped and uneven tiles from where it got wet.

    I am saving up to put in a cork flooring in my kitchen. It is more expensive but it is vary durable and a lot easier on your feet.

  7. Alan Harris says

    We have engineered hardwood, 12 years old and looking like new, after refusing the best “real” wood options from our condo builder. Our floors are, neighbours have told us, the best looking and most durable they’ve seen. Grandkids and a dog have done their customary but the floors remain unscathed. 🙂

  8. We have almost all hardwood flooring in our home and I LOVE it. We’ve even taken up carpeting in our bedroom and replaced it with hardwood flooring. My husband did that. He lays hardwood flooring as a side job/hobby, but unfortunately didn’t learn how to do it until after we’d built our house. After 27 years of wear and tear on all our other hardwood flooring, our floors still look pretty great. There are a couple of reaons. First, our floor is not stained. It’s natural white oak with clear urethane finish. Usually the scratching that is evident on hardwood flooring comes from the surface being scratched through to the stain and then to the bare wood. Very unsightly. If I get down on my knees, I can see indentations and minor scratches from my son’s rough housing and riding toys when he was little and from people dancing while wearing boots, heels, etc. at parties we’ve held, but for the most part these are not noticeable. The second thing is that layers and layers of urethane must be applied to give you a super durable finish. That would be especially true in the kitchen area. You should be able to apply water to clean it easily. (I often wet mop my floors with no issues.) Third, a satin finish is the best. A glossy finish will look good for a brief period of time, but it will show every scratch, every speck of dust and dirt, etc. I don’t actually have hardwood flooring in the kitchen (I have vinyl), but I wish I did. I also wish I had it in our bathroom upstairs. I’m not a fan of the engineered flooring. It doesn’t look natural or feel natural to me. I knew some folks who have gotten it and their pets wouldn’t even walk on it because they didn’t like the feel of it. Of course, that could be a good thing if you want to keep the pets out of the kitchen. 😉 Anyway, my two cents!


  9. Have you looked at tile that looks like hardwood floors ? Home depot. Had a brown and a beautiful grayish washed beachwood look. Great for a kitchen. The tile is shaped like wood planks. Cute. Maybe not practical for a cold climate area in other areas of the house except kitchen. Good luck

  10. I’m in the process of meeting with a contractor about redoing my kitchen. Because of my using a secretary chair to move about the kitchen, he suggested vinyl planks by Allure. They are individual planks that are put down and look like hardwood. I found some at Home Depot, but he said he would use a better grade than what they had. Just another suggestion.

  11. Gerri Barron says

    We are getting ready to replace our carpet in the living room. It is 27 plus years old, raised 3 kids kept 4 kids, so there is a lot of “history” on this carpet. I had the same questions what is the best, will last the longest, price, upkeep….on and on. We finally settled with Laminate. We have a Lab who occasionally comes into the house, along with 3 “boys” (hubby and 2 boys). Price wise this met our budget. I liked what the reviews said about upkeep and traffic and how well it held up. Oh I would love the “real” hardwood floor like I grew up on, but that is a no go. If we had a expensive home then I would sure get them. We found what we wanted at Lowe’s after I searched and searched for what was the best.
    Oldest son is set to put the flooring down next weekend 🙂

  12. I have had the engineered flooring. The biggest problems were: 1) Son put it in and got in a hurry toward the end. So, part is slipping out of place. The other problem was Hubby plugged the sink to do dishes, let the water overflow, (He couldn’t hear it running), so it warped a bit. It has provided good wear, easy to clean. Have had 3 big dogs and 2 cats plus an assortment of people in & out. It has worn well. Would do it again, but with professional installation.

  13. Donna Ellwanger says

    I have vinyl planks that look like wood in my dining room and front room area. The kitchen part has a tile that looks like ceramic tile. It is really one big “L” shaped room. The tile is all the same thickness which makes seamless transition from one area to the next. I have the same tile in a cork like pattern in my office. This type of tile has a ceramic coating and is very durable.

  14. I have had the same dilemma – we bought out 1st home last year and at our age that was a great thing to us (48/58). The home was a foreclosure and they had pet that had soiled the carpets. I’m like you – carpet in the dining area is CRAZY! We have a living /dining open floor plan and so I wanted it to all be alike. We have discussed with family and church family and our conclusion is that we should go with solid hard wood – also causes better re-sale value.

  15. We have both. In Portland we have hardwood and we put in the engineered at our beach house and truly LOVE it. The Portland house floor is scratched and dented (i.e.. dropping an unopened can of something on it in the kitchen). In Yachats, people always compliment us on the floor and it has withstood kids and sand. I vote engineered!

  16. Rebecca S. says

    We put laminate flooring in our home last year and I absolutely love it. We got it at lowe’s and got the cheapest kind they had. It one of the best ratings for all their laminate flooring. It was easy to install, after we learned the right way ( is a great place to go to learn how).

  17. I have a lot of hardwood in my house downstairs and we are contemplating ripping up all our upstairs carpet and replacing it with hardwood. On the bids we got the only real financial difference was the cost of install. Quality engineered hardwood is practically the same cost as hardwood (at least for the color we are looking at) and since only the top layer is wood you can’t sand down as deep (which would be a real concern if I was putting it in a high use area, like a kitchen where things get dropped and the floor will get gouged inevitably). However, the engineered is way easier and cheaper to install.

    If you go with engineered, I would just make sure you are getting a reputable brand that will wear much like actual hardwood. From the picture it looks really attractive. I would also try to get an actual “hardwood” not one of the softer ones. They should have a scale you can read. There is a huge difference depending on the type of wood used. Not all hardwood floors wear the same.

  18. Whatever you choose, do NOT go with a shiny gloss finish. Go “satin” and you can hide a multitude of “oops”!! The engineered hardwood withstands smaller dog nails but not great with 90-pound canines… experience. Otherwise, the cost and look worked out for our master bedroom. Also stuck a lower-end product throughout the upstairs bedrooms…knowing there would be spills. A good choice there, too. But nothing gets by fingernail polish and model paint….. Kids are kids.

  19. Glad you did some homework. I re-did a kitchen 3 years ago and put in hardwood, I thought. It is birch, looks gorgeous, gets lots of compliments, but large dog scratches abound on the glossy finished. Also, the pre-finished flooring has small gaps between each board. I wish I knew about hardwood topped engineered flooring now. However, I would not skimp on flooring because it gets the most wear. I put big money into the quartz counters (soapstone) and they never look dirty when they are. It’s really hard to make compromises with something that will have to last a long time and you use every day.

    • Thanks for sharing that. I am looking at quartz for the counter tops. I found some I really like and I think they will be worth the money because they will last a long time. I am glad to hear you enjoy yours.

  20. We installed engineered hardwood flooring in our great room this fall. We went with a wide plank character maple made in the USA by Somerset. We love it. There is a big difference between quality of engineered, so make sure you get an actual sample and examine how it is constructed.

    However, I would not want wood flooring in my kitchen. I have slate in the kitchen and it’s great.

  21. First off, congrats on the kitchen remodel! That’s so exciting!

    Last year, we built an addition on our home that included an open floor plan with a brand new kitchen, dining room and family room. I knew I had wanted hardwood throughout, but had to convince my husband. Both he and the contractor were dead set against putting hardwood in the kitchen. However, I persisted and ultimately won. It’s been a little over a year now and we LOVE the floors! Even my husband who fought me tooth and nail on the issue. They look great and are easy to clean (we use Bruce Hardwood Floor Cleaner).

    With that being said, the old kitchen in our house (which is now being converted into a bedroom), had laminate “wood” flooring. It looked horrible. It was only about 5 years old and 2 elderly people lived in the home. It did not wear well at all.

    Also, my parents had the laminate installed in their sun room about 3 years ago. It did not hold up at all. They have to replace it this year.

    I’m a big fan of hardwood and am so glad we had it installed. We made sure to put felt pad on the furniture legs to help protect it. And, I have several area rugs throughout the space. There are a few scratches here are there. But they are character!

    On a side note, there are few things I would recommend in a new kitchen (if you can swing them): a pot filler faucet over the stove, a pull out stand for your stand mixer, and a super large sink. These are my 3 favorite things in my kitchen.

    Because the of the hardwood floors, I decided to not get stone counter tops (we have a LOT of counter space and it would have been super expensive). Instead, we went with Formica that looks exactly like granite. I love it — it’s so easy to clean and care for. Even the appraiser didn’t know they weren’t granite!

    Good luck! It’s such an exciting adventure!

  22. This is so helpful right now! We are deciding what kind of flooring to put in our home and in a rental, and reading others experiences is invaluable to making our decision. Thank you to everyone who commented!

  23. We have both solid hardwood (NOT prefinished) and engineered hardwood in our home. There is no comparing the two! The engineered hardwood, installed about 5 years ago, has faded and scratched horribly. Admittedly, we have an English spaniel and 3 rough kids. The hardwood, which is original to the house (50+ years) and has never been refinished shows no wear — only a very slight darkening with time. The reason I emphasized that our solid hardwood floors were not prefinished is that with prefinished flooring, water can still get in between the cracks in the boards and wreak havoc. A good friend installed prefinished solid wood flooring in her new home two years ago, and areas around outside doors that have a lot of traffic are already showing the effects of small amounts of water getting between the boards – dark discoloration.

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