Here in Idaho Falls, I continue to hear phrases when talking about engineered hardwood that go something like this, "Yeah, but it isn't real hardwood right?" Wrong, engineered hardwood is real wood. What that customer is comparing engineered hardwood to is a 3/4" solid hardwood. You know... the kind of hardwood that comes into your home raw and the installer has to sand and finish the hardwood on-site. Sometimes our clients will also mention that they like 3/4" hardwood because they can continuously sand and finish the floor over and over. The truth is if you did that, and you have a hardwood floor that you paid good money for to have character put into it, you will most likely change or ruin the overall look of that floor. In regards to engineered hardwood, you have what's called a mill wear layer. This is the top layer that is the desired wood species layer. The layers below the desired species layer are mainly made up of birch and pine wood. These layers give you a much more stable product reducing the amount of pores compared to a 3/4" solid hardwood that when given moisture will create a horizontal pushing effect in the 3/4" hardwood ultimately creating gaps and cupping at the joints.
I would argue too that you have a "wear layer" on 3/4" hardwood too. Why? Because after about 5 to 7 mil you will start to run into the tongue and groove of that floor. You cannot endlessly sand the 3/4" solid floor or you will end up getting into the tongue and groove portion of the 3/4" hardwood. Yes, that would take an awful lot of sanding, but my point is it is not endless. Also, may I add that most customers when asked how many times they hired a professional to come in and re-sand and finish their 3/4" hardwood floor, 99% of them say they never have. Most people don't want to go through the process of paying to re-sand and re-finish their hardwood. It's not cheap.... This is also why engineered hardwood is a great option. Many engineered hardwood options give you a factory 25 to 50 year finish warranty with stains and finishes that most of the time cannot be duplicated in the field. Lately, I have seen some engineered hardwood selections with stains and finishes that are simply amazing. When it comes to installation, most of the time installation is exactly the same way for both products... except with engineered hardwood the customer doesn't have the extensive labor cost of sanding and finishing the wood in their home making it much more cost effective. Personally, I love them both, but would lean more towards the purchase of engineered hardwood for the desire of the manufacturer's custom stain colors, finish warranties, overall cost and structure stability.