Solid or engineered oak flooring?


Solid oak flooring is milled from a single piece of real oak timber.

Engineered oak flooring is manufactured and consists of three or more layers. Each layer is stacked in a cross-grain configuration and bonded together under the heat and pressure. The top layer is a real, solid oak veneer. Its thickness can vary between 2 to 7mm.


Solid oak flooring is much prized for its durability and hardwearing. Flooring made from solid oak is a 100% natural product that responds to air humidity. It expands and contracts depending on the moisture in the air. Humid air in summer can cause the wood to expand. On other hand, the wood can contract during winter when the heating is on. It might present a problem in some properties when temperatures fluctuate, however in most homes the reaction goes by almost unnoticeably.

Engineered oak flooring, because of the cross-layers of plywood and/or real wood used for middle and bottom layers, engineered hardwood flooring has enhanced internal balance and reduced possibility of twisting or warping. Seasonal movement is minimal, while dimensional stability through seasonal humidity and temperature fluctuations is superb. This is why engineered oak flooring is preferable over solid oak in interiors, where fluctuations in humidity and temperature may be significant (cottages, basements, very large areas etc). Made from several layers of bonded hardboard, it’s ideal for combining with underfloor heating. In terms of drawback, engineered oak flooring is not as durable and hardwearing as solid oak.

Either solid or engineered oak flooring will suit most residential homes. If you are unsure which type of oak you should go for, it is better to ask your flooring supplier before deciding on one particular option. There are several methods to fit oak flooring and the chosen method is based on the type of flooring and preexisting subfloor.

Fitting methods and cost of fitting:

Solid oak flooring needs to be always nailed down to original floorboards or plywood or glued down to the concrete slab. Because of its movement, due to the air temperature, we don’t recommend to fit it as a floating floor. Because of the extra primer and quality adhesive used for this type of fitting the cost of fitting solid oak flooring on concrete is higher, than to fit engineered oak flooring as a floating floor where you need to use only underlay.

Engineered oak flooring can be fitted as floating floor, nail down to wooden sub-floors or glued to concrete sub-floors. When there is an under-floor heating installed in the concrete sub-floor, engineered oak is also recommended to be fitted by gluing it down. This will minimize the air pocket under the flooring and it will lower heat loss.

The fitting cost depends from the materials used and labor involved. The more laborious the fitting the more expensive it is. The cheapest fitting method is floating floor method, where the flooring is fitted by gluing the floorboards together. Flooring is not fixed to sub-floor and the drawback is that the floor doesn’t feel that solid under the feet, it does move (flex) under the feet.

Next is fitting oak flooring by secret nailing method. This is nail down method. Flooring is fixed down to the sub-floor with nails and after some time with the movement of the flooring nails can loosen and floor can squeak in places.

The most expensive fitting method is fully bonded one. Floorboards are glued to sub-floor. The floor feels solid under the feet and because the adhesive used for this method is very elastic it silence the impact noise of the floor. Floorboards are not squeaking after few years.

solid oak flooring and engineered oak flooring cross section

Solid oak flooring and engineered oak flooring cross section. Top; Multiply engineered oak structure. Middle: Triply engineered oak flooring structure. Bottom: Solid oak flooring.


Solid unfinished oak flooring – top


Solid oak flooring – bottom. Floorboards have stress groves on the back of the boards. Solid oak flooring has more movement in it. It is not suitable for very large rooms or areas with higher probability of moisture in the air. Not recommended using this flooring for lower ground floors. This flooring is a traditional oak floor with its temperament. It can expand in the late Summer/ early Autumn month and contract in Winter. When you love real oak and do not mind a bit of movement in the floorboards you are going to love the solid oak floor.

engineered-oak-flooring-multiplank construction-top

Engineered oak flooring multiplank construction – top

engineered oak flooring multiplank - bottom

Engineered oak flooring multiplank – bottom. Because of the multiply structure of the engineered oak floor, this flooring is more dimensionally stable than solid oak. Therefore the engineered oak flooring is suitable for large open space rooms, Kitchens or lower ground floors.

Take a look at our installation services.  For more information on fitting different types of oak flooring and feel free to contact us with any further questions.