Buying hardwood flooring can be confusing. There are planks of different lengths and widths. There are different species, stains, and finishes. There are so many options. However, there’s one option that you might see less often: thickness. Sellers might mention the hardwood flooring thickness but they generally don’t offer options. If they do offer options, they often don’t explain the difference. You’re only going to see the top of the wood anyway. Does thickness matter? Well, it depends.
When It Matters
Typically, solid hardwood flooring is between 5/16 and ¾ inches thick. Those are pretty standard thicknesses that serve most needs. Engineered hardwood can come in different thicknesses but generally, it’s about the same offerings as solid hardwood. The thickness of the veneer is another consideration with engineered hardwood. The veneer layer ranges from about .5 millimeters to four millimeters.
The thickness of solid hardwood matters when you install it over a wooden subfloor of questionable integrity. If the subfloor isn’t quite as stable as you would like, a thicker hardwood could help. The thicker hardwood planks will offer some structural integrity that the subfloor is lacking. In other cases, thicker hardwood might help with your climate control. Some homeowners claim that their homes are better insulated by thicker hardwood floors. The science is somewhat inconclusive, but it would make sense that more wood would insulate better than less wood.
In the same vein, thicker hardwood might affect the efficacy of an ambient heating system. If you have a heating system under your floor, the thickness of wood could be relevant.
Engineered hardwood adds an extra wrinkle because it has two separate thicknesses. Layers of thin wood glued together form the bulk of an engineered hardwood plank. The top layer, the veneer layer, is the actual hardwood that you want to see. You should have the same considerations about the overall thickness of a engineered plank as you do about a solid plank. Then you have to also think about the thickness of the veneer layer.
A thicker veneer layer will mostly only affect the floor if it is damaged. Some kind of scratching damage could scratch through a very thin veneer layer, exposing the plies underneath. Also, if the veneer layer is thicker, you’ll be able to sand it to repair it. A thinner layer will survive fewer times being sanded.
So, does the thickness of your hardwood floor matter? The answer depends on your situation.