Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using multiple layers of wood veneers. The grain of each layer runs in perpendicular directions, which creates exceptional dimensional stability. This means the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature. Because of the way engineered hardwood is processed, it is not as affected by humidity as solid wood planks are. Therefore, the product is often the preferred choice for kitchens and bathrooms or in areas where the humidity level can vary—like in a basement or a part of the house below grade, as long as a moisture barrier is placed between the subfloor and the hardwood planks. They are also better suited for installing over in-floor heating systems.
The top layer of engineered wood consists of high-quality wood. Engineered floors can be nailed or stapled to a wood sub-floor, or glued down to a wood subfloor or concrete slab. This makes engineered wood floors ideal for slab and basement installations, but they can be used in any room either above or below grade. This type of flooring can be sanded and finished. Engineered hardwood floors are suitable for installation on all levels of the home and over plywood, wood, OSB and concrete subfloors.
Solid hardwood flooring can generally be refinished many times because it can be sanded and re-sanded nearly all the way down to the tongue and groove of the boards. That could be as much as 1/4″ or about one third of the thickness of the board. Especially with the 4.2MM Wear Layer you will be able to sand engineered flooring just as much. Finishes are so durable that you will get a lifetime of carefree use before a new finish is ever needed. Refinishing, therefore usually becomes a secondary consideration in the selection process.
Versatility is always an important issue in choosing flooring. Today, engineered hardwood flooring is really quite versatile. It can be installed using either glue or staples. It can also be installed over all types of sub-floors from suspended wood to concrete slab. Engineered hardwood flooring, given proper conditions, can be used below grade. Solid hardwood flooring, on the other hand, has the limiting requirement of needing to be stapled down over suspended floors – above grade. In order to fasten solid hardwood flooring over a concrete floor, plywood or firing strips would have to be installed first. It can be done, but it is time consuming and expensive.
Engineered hardwood flooring is generally thinner than solid hardwood. That means it can be used in many remodeling projects where a solid ¾” floor would create a height problem. Our floors range in thickness from 5/8” to ¾”.
For the most part, hardwood flooring is quite dimensionally stable over time. Solid hardwood may, under certain climatic conditions, be subject to swelling or shrinking. Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand while still subject to slight movement is the better choice where extreme seasonal climate changes may cause problems. The plywood-like construction of an engineered floor gives it more dimensional stability.
Typically engineered hardwood flooring will cost you less than solid hardwood flooring for the same look because less of the valuable tree is used than with solid wood. Also, freight costs are lower because engineered flooring is lighter in weight and therefore less costly to transport. These factors also help make engineered flooring friendly to the environment.