Flooring and Carpeting/engineered vs solid


QUESTION: we have gotten two bids from flooring companies for 5' hand scraped hardwood in our home in North Carolina on a crawl with opposite views.    One company said to go solid if it is on a crawl as it is easier to install and the savings from not using glue would take care of any higher price.   The other company said go engineered as it would be less subject to cupping and seasonal gaps than solid especially with the wider 5" boards.   What would be your preference?

Solid flooring is usually nailed down. However they might determine that you need another layer of subfloor. If that is the case, engineered would be preferred.
Moisture, the enemy of all wood, needs to be measured with testing prior to installation no matter which floor you decide to get.
Engineered flooring offers two options of installation...Glue direct or floating.
Floating the floor will allow you to use an underlayment padding/moisture barrier and accomplish 2 things. Moisture protection and ease of installation. Choose a premium underlayment at least 3mm-5mm thick. Usually a dense foam with a foil moisture barrier on one side.

Both solid and engineered are beautiful looking. However it is very unlikely that you can refinish engineered wood due to the thin top skin.

Testing for moisture can be accomplished with a calcium chloride test. Or a specialty hand held meter made by Tramex. The calcium chloride test is simple to use and they sell kits online.

If it were me and I had the budget I would opt for moisture testing and solid wood flooring with the intention of staying in this house for 20+ years and possibly refinishing the floor once during that time. If this is a short term arrangement engineered would be perfectly suitable with no intentions of refinishing.

What led any sales person to bring up the moisture issue? Do you suspect a moisture problem over a crawl space? Any previous indicators...mold...musty smells...wet/damp seasonally?

If you have more questions please feel free to ask.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Chris could i ask a follow up question.  We have two bids for engineered the glue down directly to sub floor person said the moisture barrier would make the floor sound hollow when walking on it and nailing through the moisture barrier with the floating floor would put holes in the moisture barrier minimizing its effectiveness anyway.   The nail down person said the cost of the glue would be more than the cost of the the moisture barrier and it we glued down then we would have wood glued to wood and if anyone ever did new flooring in the future they would have to take up sub floor what are your thoughts and do you have a preference glue down vs floating for engineered going over a crawl.


Never Glue engineered to wood over a crawl. Float it with underlayment.
Never nail down any floor with underlayment.  Use at most a felt roofing paper. Or nothing.

The solid wood nailed down will typically be 3/4" What width is up to you. This is the ultimate floor and will last a lifetime

The engineered floor with a premium underlayment Floated would be my 2nd choice.
Buy a 2.5 mm - 3.5 mm underlayment and it wont sound hollow.

What thickness is the engineered wood? 1/2"...9/16"
There are some great engineered products out there, which brands are you looking at?

I hope you are not shopping at Lumber Liquidators.

Look at the high quality underlayment at the link below and compare others to it.

If you decide to FLOAT your floor call them and ask where you can get it.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: not a question  just a reply that we're looking at Armstrong American scape 5' wide and I believe 3/8 thick.   Thanks again for all your help

The Armstrong american scrape is an engineered floor designed for glue down at 3/8ths thick. You can not float it....unless specifically recommended by the manufacture. From everything I know the wood must be at least 1/2"-9/16ths  to float. Please make sure you call Armstrong and speak with a service agent to get exact product compatibility.

I am looking online at the Armstrong installation instructions now and they are somewhat tricky to find ...but following multiple links I am at the PDF.


Go to the above screen shot to see the web site I was visiting

The instructions PDF are below

Now I just scanned through these rather quickly on page 3 the PDF describes the Floating process but does not refer to any particular Armstrong line ...it is a generic installation guideline for any floating floor.

The other pages describe basic prep and installation instructions glue or nail and proper subfloors etc.

In our previous conversations I was under the impression that the floor you had chosen was a clik and lock type for the engineered... and a solid for the nail down.

If this is not the case please indicate which method you want and which floor Armstrong recommends.


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20+ years flooring installation ...carpet,wood,tile and vinyl. Residential and commercial. I do not sell the products , just install what ever the shop / customer has purchased. I actually love seeing the finished project completed and it gives me great satisfaction to help others acheive that goal. If I don't know the answer I will say so, and then I will recommend another expert for you. I may even research the subject and answer to the best of my ability ...including links to my sources. I wish you all success Chris


20 years as an independant contractor

H.S. diploma A.S. agriculture Mt San Antonio JR. College

Past/Present Clients
Gene Bonas and Kevin Churnock Inc. Sheward&Son&Sons Century 21 Forte Const. Famous Footwear BOSE Corporation Homebodies General Contractor Perry Floors, Tri Cord Flooring T.J.'S Supplies

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