So you need a new floor. Here are the three words you need to hear: Engineered Wood Floors. What is it? What can it do for you? That’s why you’re here. Engineered Wood flooring is constructed out of several layers of wood. The top part is called the wear layer because this is the part that gets all the foot traffic that wears down a floor.
Because that’s the part people can see, it is usually made out of attractive natural hardwoods such as oak or walnut. The wear layer is generally about a quarter of a centimeter to a little more than half a centimeter thick.
The rest of the layers give your floor strength and stability. All of these base layers are usually made of something like plywood, eucalyptus or hevea. For more dimensional stability, they are fixed to the wear level at a 90 degree angle.
This is NOT the same thing as laminate flooring. Laminate flooring isn’t even really wood! It’s just high-density fiberboard dressed up to look like wood. You might as well be walking on a stack of driver’s licenses or an acrylic painting on wood.
You may be wondering if there are any advantages to using engineered hardwood flooring. There are nine very good reasons!
1. Cost Effective
Engineered hardwood flooring is less expensive than solid hardwood flooring. It should only cost you in the neighborhood of seven to twelve dollars per square foot. While there are options that are even cheaper, there are quality and durability to consider.
2. Looks Good
Honestly, once it’s all installed, most people can’t even tell the difference between engineered wood floors and solid hardwood floors. It looks just as good, so why pay more? Best of all, hardwood is a classic look that never goes out of style. If you want your home to have a good resale value, this is the way to go.
3. Real Hardwood
This is the reason it looks good! There is an authentic layer of hardwood on top. This makes the floor both beautiful and sturdy. While engineered wood flooring is often thought of as a product that straddles the fine line between industrial and authentic, it is perhaps the marriage of both.
You can use it in your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom or basement rec room. Engineered wood floors are more resilient to variations in temperature and humidity than solid wood flooring. You can install it over concrete. Just remember to fix any cracks first and waterproof the subfloor.
Got underfloor heating in your conservatory? No problem. Wants your floor installed over an underlay? No problem. Engineered wood floors are very stable and are compatible with radiant heating. Just to be on the safe side, always check with the manufacturer, but most products will be able to withstand changes in temperature.
6. Do You Have a Subfloor?
Once again, no problem! If you need a floor that can be fixed to a sub-floor then engineered wood flooring is the right choice for you. You can glue or float your new flooring right over the subfloor. Just remember to plan ahead and prep your subfloor first.
7. Easy to Install
Let’s face it, no one wants to deal with workmen traipsing all over your home, charging you for their time and having no respect for yours. If you choose the click system, you’ll be able to install the floors yourself in surprisingly little time. If you make a few mistakes, they might not be noticeable. You’ll even be able to use them the same day they’re installed!
Practically the only difficulty you’ll have with engineered wood flooring is deciding what kind you want. The wood species, style, plank size, color and finish are all up to you and there’s plenty to choose from. Your tastes and the style of your décor will help you determine what’s best. The sky’s the limit here!
9. Can be Sanded
Because the top layer is made of real wood, you can sand it off and refinish it if need be. However, pre-finished engineered wood, usually looks perfect out of the box. Keep the wear layer in mind. The thicker it is, the more times you can refinish the floor if it needs it.
Engineered hardwood has some significant advantages over solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood works with underfloor heating where solid flooring does not. If you want to float the floor over the underlay, engineered is the way to go here too.
If the floor is in a conservatory or orangery, then only engineered hardwood can stand the intense sunlight, humidity and constant temperature changes, it will be continuously be subjected to. While both solid and engineered hardwood floorings are easily secured and can withstand heavy foot traffic, the engineered wood flooring is just more advantageous.
You are probably wondering what, if any, drawbacks, there are to engineered wood flooring. There are precious few, and there are considerations to be made based on the individual situation.
* Aren’t laminate, tile and carpet cheaper?
Well, they can be. It really depends on what kind and how much. And always remember the axiom “You get what you pay for.” Is it really a bargain if you have to replace it so soon after getting it? As a homeowner, you should take care not to bring any shoddy or poorly made products into your home.
* What if the veneer is too thin?
Shop around! You want to invest in a nice thick veneer that won’t prematurely warp or fade. If you want to double the lifetime of your floor, it is recommended that you sand and refinish the floor, something that cannot be done with flimsy veneers.
* Just what’s in those core layers?
Ask and you will find! You want the core layers of your engineered hardwood flooring to be made of only wood of the highest quality. Don’t let yourself be cheated by unscrupulous manufacturers that stuff their product with fiberboard or oriented strand board. That can make your floor unstable. Insist on the best!
* Don’t they use carcinogens to make that?
Some manufacturers use formaldehyde and other poisonous chemicals in the construction of composite flooring projects. Usually, these are found in adhesives and sealants. A process called off-gassing occurs when these volatile organic compounds are heated until a noxious gas forms. This can be minimized by having factory-stained boards. Be a smart shopper! If you are concerned about the health of yourself or someone who lives with you, look for flooring that is certified to be formaldehyde and VOC free.
* Isn’t engineered wood flooring high maintenance?
That really depends on what kind of wood you go for. Bamboo is probably the easiest to care for. For the most part, engineered wood flooring maintenance is about on par with what you could expect with solid hardwood.
Use a hardwood vac once a day to sweep away dust particles and don’t use any heavy waxes or oils. Don’t flood the floor with water as this can lead to decay and the growth of bacteria. Use a high-quality microfiber mop and make sure that you only use chemicals safe for your finish.
If you want that warm feeling you only get from the classic touch of real wood but none of the flaws of solid hardwood, you want engineered hardwood floors. Vinyl and laminate floorings just don’t have that homey touch you want for your home. Solid hardwood is expensive, difficult to install and just doesn’t hold up under humidity.
One “drawback” of engineered hardwood is the plethora of choices to make.
Here’s some (mind you, just some) of the most popular wood choices available in engineered hardwood.
Hopefully, this can help you narrow things down. They all have their pluses and minuses. Consider your family lifestyle and the style and color of your furniture and drapes before committing to one type of wood.
This rich, hand-scraped wood gives your home a timeless feeling. The color tends toward cool and dark, but some finishes are lighter. The seventh U.S. president Andrew Jackson earned the nickname “Old Hickory” because, like the wood, he was strong and tough. Hickory floors don’t scratch or dent easily and so will last a very long time.
This traditional choice of wood (particularly the red oak) is inexpensive but looks great! Where red oak has a deep rosy undertone, white oak gives off more of a pale golden tone. The linear grain of white oak takes to stain easily and smoothly. Oak has the most stability, making it the best choice for humid environments.
This is technically a grass rather than a wood, but it’s incredibly strong. Environmentalists love it because bamboo is so easily renewed. Natural bamboo flooring is light in color, but can be carbonized to take on a darker color, at the cost of making it a bit softer. With the proper finish, bamboo floors are easily cleaned with a mop and mild soap.
This is the most elegant of the woods, most often used for dining, living and family rooms. There is just something about those delicate patterns of soft striation. Maple is more durable than oak but has more color choices than hickory. Though this porous wood accepts stains well, it does not go on smoothly and should be best left to the pros.
Here’s a wood prized for its fine texture. It can change color over time, oxidizing from a golden luster to a rich russet. Either way, you get a mature, luxurious look. Staining it is a breeze, but you might like the original color too much to change it. Brazilian cherry is the hardest of the cherry species and is best for flooring. Brazilian cherry has an almost coppery tone but could set off a bold décor.
This wood is much like oak, only a little firmer with a slightly more subtle grain and more on the grayscale side of the color spectrum. Though it stains well, many people are drawn to it specifically for the pale color. Ash is not only firm, it is elastic making it very shock resistant. It stays smooth under friction. Unfortunately, due to a recent pest infestation, this type of wood is becoming more rare.
While slightly softer than oak, walnut is durable with good shock resistance. Brazilian Walnut has an appreciable firmness. Walnut flooring is often deep brown in color with a warm, rich feeling to it. It’s very bold and sophisticated. Walnut can be a bit temperamental when it comes to finish so staining will be a difficult process, but well worth it if done right.
This wood is slightly coarse with pores that are small but visible. It has a straight grain with a fine and even texture. The color is light and creamy. Since this type of wood is very difficult to stain, only go with it if that’s the color you like. Slightly firmer than red oak, beech is suitable for moderate to heavy foot traffic. Durable as it is, it does not take to standing water very well and is best suited for dry environments.
So, what more can be said about engineered wood flooring? It is a stylish yet practical way to add beauty and value to your home. If you like to do it yourself projects, this could easily be done in a day. It is moderate in price and well worth what is spent on it.
Be a wise consumer, though, and look for high-quality products that are made with safe and solid materials. If you have a subfloor, engineered wood can be applied right on top. It’s stable, durable and suit the taste of any home decorator.
You may want to choose engineered wood flooring because it has the look and feel of solid wood flooring without paying solid wood flooring prices. It’s compatible with many heating systems and easy to install. Inform yourself, ask all the right questions, do some comparison shopping and you will have a lovely floor that will serve your household for many years to come.