Which Holds Resale Value Better? Solid Hardwood or Engineer?

When investing in new hardwood flooring for your home, you likely want it to last for years and potentially add value when you go to sell. An important consideration is which type – solid hardwood or engineered hardwood – will better retain its value and appeal to future buyers. There are good arguments on both sides, which we’ll explore in this guide.

In short, solid hardwood is generally considered to have a higher resale value if properly maintained. However, engineered hardwood offers greater stability and some cost savings, making it an appealing option for many homeowners. Read on as we dive deeper into the pros and cons of each in terms of longevity, durability, aesthetics, and overall return on investment.

What is Solid Hardwood?

Solid hardwood flooring is milled from a solid piece of wood, usually oak, maple, cherry, or walnut. It can be nailed or stapled directly to an existing wood subfloor or glued down over concrete.


  • Can be sanded and refinished many times, preserving its beauty and value
  • High-quality solid woods like oak have enduring visual appeal
  • Retains warmth and increases value for resale


  • More prone to swelling and shrinkage with humidity fluctuations
  • Generally more expensive upfront cost
  • Requires careful installation for optimal performance

What is Engineered Hardwood?

Engineered hardwood flooring consists of multiple layers of wood pressed together in a cross-grain configuration for stability. The top layer is high-quality solid wood, usually oak or maple.


  • Resists swelling and shrinkage better than solid wood
  • Can be installed directly over concrete subfloors
  • Often eligible for below-grade installations
  • Less expensive than solid wood overall


  • Can only be refinished 1-2 times safely
  • Perceived as less valuable than solid wood

Now that we’ve covered the key differences, let’s analyze how they compare in terms of retaining resale value.

Durability and Longevity

An important factor for resale value is how well the flooring holds up over time. Solid hardwood’s ability to be refinished is a strong point in its favor. The refinishing process sands away the top layer of wood to reveal fresh wood underneath. This can extend the floor’s lifespan significantly, making it appealing to future buyers.

However, engineered hardwood can generally only be refinished safely 1-2 times. The thin solid wood layer means excessive sanding will damage the layered structure underneath. So while engineered hardwood is still durable for 10-30 years under normal use, solid hardwood offers greater long term flexibility and maintenance.

Proper installation also impacts durability for both flooring types. Following manufacturer guidelines on subfloor prep, spacing, transitions, and climate control is essential to minimize expansion, contraction, warping, and moisture damage issues down the road.


Engineered hardwood was designed to provide better stability than solid wood, which naturally shrinks and swells with changes in humidity and temperature. The cross-layered structure of engineered flooring resists excessive expansion and contraction, reducing gaps and cupping.

However, this advantage does not necessarily translate to higher resale value. Most buyers are unaware of subsurface specifics and simply recognize solid hardwood as the gold standard. As long as solid hardwood is properly acclimated and maintained within normal environmental ranges, stability is generally not a detracting factor.


Beauty is subjective, but there are a few key points to consider in regards to resale appeal:

  • Solid hardwood is available in wider planks and more grade options, allowing greater customization of visual style. Engineered width is limited by its layered structure.
  • Rich wood species like oak, cherry, maple and exotic woods are valued in the real estate market. Their distinctive grains and warm hues give homes a premium, upscale look that attracts buyers.
  • Character markings like knots and mineral streaks have charm. They showcase the wood’s natural origins and add visual interest. Both solid and engineered hardwood offer choices ranging from uniform, contemporary visuals to rustic, varied characters.

Overall, when properly installed, both flooring types can provide very attractive aesthetics to your home. And beauty is subjective based on personal taste. But the wider width options, wood species choices, and character features available in solid hardwood give it an edge for broad resale appeal.

Cost Considerations

Solid hardwood generally comes at a 15-30% higher initial price point compared to similar engineered wood options. However, the ability to refinish solid hardwood multiple times over decades has value. So while engineered wood may seem like a way to save money upfront, solid hardwood is often viewed as the wiser long term investment.

Home buyers also recognize that solid wood adds value. So while engineered wood won’t detract from your home’s worth, solid wood is generally seen as a premium feature to list in real estate descriptions. And small investments like adding hardwood on the main living level can have big returns in boosted home sale prices.

Which is Better for Resale Value?

Given the points we’ve covered, solid hardwood is most often viewed as the better choice for retaining and building home value. Home buyers recognize solid hardwood floors as a luxurious, valuable feature. And if maintained properly, solid wood floors can potentially last for the lifetime of a house.

However, engineered hardwood remains a smart, affordable choice for many homeowners. The added stability and subfloor flexibility expands installation options. And wider availability of longer planks and on-trend visual styles make engineered wood a viable aesthetic choice. Just be aware that engineered wood may not confer as much value boost upon resale.

Here is a summary of the key differences:

Solid HardwoodEngineered Hardwood
– Can be refinished many times– Can only be refinished 1-2 times
– More expensive initially– Less expensive upfront cost
– More prone to expansion/contraction– Added stability from cross-layering
– Wider planks available– Width limited by thin top layer
– Rich wood species and grades– Leaning towards more uniform looks
– Perceived as more valuable– Not considered as premium

In Conclusion:

While engineered wood merits consideration for its resilience and affordability, solid hardwood remains the gold standard for retaining value and appeal to home buyers. When the budget allows, investing extra in solid wood floors can literally pay off when selling your home. And caring properly for them over the years will preserve their lasting beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best solid wood species for resale value?

The most sought-after species are oak, maple, cherry, and exotic woods like Brazilian cherry or Santos mahogany. Oak is the most popular – known for its strength, rich graining, and timeless appeal.

How many times can you refinish an engineered hardwood floor?

Engineered hardwood floors can safely be refinished 1-2 times if done carefully. The thin solid wood layer on top means sanding too far risks hitting the less attractive plywood layers underneath.

Do home buyers prefer wider or narrower hardwood planks?

Wider planks are generally viewed as more valuable in the real estate market. The wide solid boards showcase more of the wood’s beauty and evoke a sense of luxury. Standard widths run 2 1⁄4” to 7”+, with the wider widths only available in solid hardwood.

How much value does hardwood flooring add to a home?

Depending on the home and market, refinished or newer hardwood floors can boost resale value in the 3-5% range. Premium solid woods may confer more value. And certain sought-after visual looks, like chevron patterns or herringbone designs, can also command higher prices.

Should I refinish my floors before selling?

In most cases, yes – refinishing dingy, worn floors can make a huge difference in showcasing your home’s beauty to prospective buyers. Floors with noticeable scratches, gaps, pet stains or traffic patterns date the home. A fresh refinish makes the space look clean, new and well-cared for.

I hope this thorough overview has helped explain the resale value differences between solid and engineered hardwood flooring! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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