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3/8 vs 1/2 Inch Engineered Hardwood Flooring: 6 Differences [Easy Decisions]

3/8 vs 1/2 inch engineered hardwood flooring

Last Updated on July 26, 2023

When you’re looking for engineered hardwood flooring, you’ll see two popular thickness options: 3/8″ and 1/2″. While they may seem similar, there are key differences between the two that you should consider before purchasing.

1/2-inch engineered hardwood flooring is thicker and more stable than its counterparts, making it a better choice for high-traffic areas or homes with pets.

Its thicker wear layer also means it can be refinished more times than thinner options, making it a more durable choice in the long run.

We’ll explore all the differences between 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch engineered hardwood flooring and help you make the right choice.

3/8 vs 1/2 Inch Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Key Differences

3/8 vs 1/2 Inch Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Key Differences

If you’re considering engineered hardwood flooring, you need to understand the key differences between 1/2 inch and other thicknesses. Differences may fall into these categories:

1. Thickness

2. Stability

3. Durability

4. Wear Layer

5. Refinishing

6. Availability and Cost

Let’s examine this in more detail.

1. Thickness

3/8 inch hardwood flooring is 9.5 millimeters thick, while 1/2 inch engineered hardwood flooring is 12.7 millimeters thick. The thickness of the flooring affects its durability and stability.

Thicker flooring can withstand more wear and tear, making it a better option for areas with high traffic and homes with pets and children. It also provides better sound insulation and feels more solid underfoot.

On the other hand, thinner flooring is easier to install and may be a better option for homes with limited clearance or where height is a concern. It is also a more cost-effective option without sacrificing the beauty and elegance of hardwood flooring.

2. Stability

You’ll appreciate the stability of thicker hardwood floors, which provide a stronger foundation and less movement over time. This is especially important in areas with heavy foot traffic or regions with fluctuating humidity levels.

Here are four reasons why 1/2-inch hardwood flooring is a more stable option:

  • Reduced risk of cupping: Cupping occurs when the edges of a board are higher than the center, creating a concave shape. A thicker hardwood floor is less likely to cup over time because they have a stronger foundation to resist moisture and temperature changes.
  • Better sound insulation: Thicker hardwood floors can also help reduce noise transmission between floors, making them a great option for multi-level buildings or homes with high foot traffic.
  • Longer lifespan: Due to their increased stability, thicker hardwood floors can last longer than thinner options. This means you won’t have to worry about replacing your floors as frequently.
  • More forgiving installation: Thicker hardwood floors are less likely to show imperfections in the subfloor, allowing for a more forgiving installation process. This can save time and money on installation costs.

3. Durability

Regarding durability, 1/2-inch hardwood flooring can still be a good option, as long as it has enough plys to provide adequate support.

Remember that thinner flooring may be more susceptible to damage from heavy foot traffic, furniture, and other sources of wear and tear.

4. Wear Layer

Typically, the wear layer thickness of 3/8″ and 1/2″ hardwood flooring options is around 2 millimeters. But thicker wear layers offer more opportunities for sanding and refinishing, which can increase the lifespan of your flooring.

Here are some things to keep in mind when considering the wear layer thickness:

  • Thicker wear layers protect against daily wear and tear, such as scratches and scuffs from pets or furniture.
  • A thicker wear layer can also help to prevent moisture damage, which is especially important in areas with high humidity or moisture, such as bathrooms for basements.
  • If you plan on refinishing your flooring in the future, a thicker wear layer will allow for more sanding and refinishing, saving you money in the long run.
  • While a thicker wear layer may be more expensive upfront, it can save you money over time by prolonging the life of your flooring and reducing the need for costly replacements.

5. Refinishing

Refinishing your 1/2-inch hardwood flooring is a breeze compared to thinner options. With more material available, your floors can be sanded and refinished multiple times, allowing you to maintain their beauty for years to come.

The thicker wear layer of 1/2-inch flooring provides a longer lifespan, making it a better investment in the long run.

6. Availability and Cost

Both 3/8″ and 1/2″ engineered hardwood flooring options are available on the market, although availability may vary depending on the brand, retailer, and location. But, 1/2 inch flooring typically offers a broader range of options in terms of wood species, finishes, and styles due to its popularity and high demand.

In terms of pricing, the cost of 1/2-inch and 3/8-inch flooring can vary depending on several factors, including the brand, quality, wood species, and finish chosen.

Generally, 1/2-inch options tend to be slightly more expensive due to their additional thickness, which offers enhanced durability and stability.

Is 3/8 a Good Thickness for Engineered Hardwood?

Is 3/8 a Good Thickness for Engineered Hardwood?

A thickness of 3/8 inch for engineered hardwood flooring can be a viable option for some installations, depending on specific requirements and preferences.

But it’s worth noting that thicker options, such as those ranging from 3/4 to 5/8 inches, are generally recommended for enhanced stability and longevity.

Thicker flooring can better resist heavy foot traffic, minimize warping risk, and offer a more substantial feel underfoot.

Also, thicker engineered hardwood flooring often has the advantage of multiple sanding and refinishing cycles over its lifespan, which can prolong its beauty and durability.

Can you install 3/8 and 1/2 inch engineered hardwood flooring over existing flooring?

You can put 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch engineered hardwood over existing flooring, but you have to assess the condition of the existing flooring first.

The existing flooring should be structurally sound, clean, and level before installation. Any loose or damaged flooring should be repaired or removed.

It’s recommended to consult with a flooring professional to determine any specific requirements for the selected engineered hardwood flooring, such as using underlayment or moisture barriers.

Will the choice between 3/8 and 1/2-inch engineered hardwood affect the installation process?

A difference in thickness between 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch engineered hardwoods may affect the installation process.

While the process is generally similar, the difference in thickness may require specific adjustments in the installation process or using different underlayment options.

Can you nail down 3/8 engineered hardwood flooring?

It is necessary to nail down 3/8 inch engineered hardwood flooring due to its thinness. This flooring cannot be glued down or laid as a floating floor.

Nailing is a secure method to install this type of flooring. It provides stability and ensures that the planks do not shift or move over time. Therefore, you should use the correct nail and nailing pattern type per the manufacturer’s instructions. This way you can avoid installation trouble and ensure that the floor is properly installed.

How many layers should an engineered hardwood floor have?

Based on industry standards, an engineered hardwood floor should have an inner core consisting of 3 to 12 cross layers of plywood.

This inner core provides stability and durability, ensuring that the floor can withstand changes in moisture and temperature.

You can choose any hardwood material for the decorative wood species layer, which is fused on top of the inner core.

The number of layers in the inner core can vary depending on the specific product and application. But, in general, more layers will result in a stronger and more stable floor.

Is it better to glue or float an engineered wood floor?

Is it better to glue or float an engineered wood floor

Floating an engineered wood floor rather than gloating it is usually better. It’s faster and easier to install with floating because you don’t have to worry about which adhesive to use and how long it takes to dry.

Using glue may provide a more stable and secure outcome if you opt for hardwood flooring.

Ultimately, deciding between floating and gluing your engineered wood floor depends on various factors, such as your personal preferences, the type of subfloor, and the room’s humidity levels.

Choose the Right Engineered Hardwood Between 3/8 vs. 1/2-Inch

Now you’ve got the scoop on the main differences between 1/2 and 3/8-inch engineered hardwood floors. Each has its own pluses and minuses, but at the end of the day, it’s all about your personal taste and what works best in that room.

Try 3/8-inch engineered hardwood for a sleeker, more affordable option. But if durability is what you need, go for 1/2-inch engineered hardwood.

It’s sturdy, long-lasting, and totally worth it. Take your time to consider your options and choose the best one for your home.

3/8 vs 1/2 Inch Engineered Hardwood Flooring: 6 Differences [Easy Decisions]

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