What is engineered timber flooring?
Engineered wooden flooring is a two layered flooring type composed of a thin hardwood as a surface layer and a solid plywood core at the bottom. It was developed as a cost-efficient answer to the usual problems of solid wood flooring, all without sacrificing durability and appearance. And because of the increase in materials and wood types available, it’s become a popular choice for wooden flooring in recent years.
It’s versatile and easy to install, with most flooring companies offering tons of pre-finished choices for homeowners to choose from. However, for a marginal increase in fees, there are a few companies which can offer site-finished wood flooring.
Appearance and cost of engineered flooring
Engineered timber flooring has the same appearance as solid hardwood upon initial examination. It’s only when closely examining the pieces that you can see the layers that make up each panel.
The price for installation of engineered flooring can be quite cheap – even in the most expensive cases it’s a little under what you’d expect for a solid hardwood installation. Depending on the wood flooring you get, it’s even possible to install it yourself! Although the cost of a professional installation (with the quality assurance and expert application) can help avoid potential headaches with the flooring down the road.
Compare and contrast with solid hardwood
How does engineered wooden flooring hold up to solid wood? There are four particular characteristics that set the two apart:
Dealing with water is arguably the only reason you would get an engineered wooden flooring over solid hardwood. The stable plywood base is more waterproof than solid hardwood, because the dampness can’t penetrate the layers easily. This helps it avoid the usual problems with wood flooring like mould and wood rot.
Since the two-layer construction of engineered wood relies mostly on the plywood base for stability, only hard hardwoods can be used as a surface sheet. Solid timber like oak, maple, and walnut are the usual choices with engineered wooden flooring, while solid wooden flooring can range from soft to extremely hard, with a wider variety of woods available.
Since engineered wooden flooring comes as a pre-finished product, it’s possible to get several planks to adjust and replace as needed. Solid hardwood comes in one piece and is often cut down during a site finish, though plenty of companies also offer pre-finished hardwood. Solid hardwood is thicker (¾ inches) compared to engineered boards (⅜ to ½) because of this difference.
Finally, the two-layered construction of engineered flooring can’t withstand consistent wear and tear. Because of the thin surface layer, it’s vulnerable to chipping and denting. The average lifespan of an engineered floor is a little under ten years, while a well-maintained solid hardwood floor can be durable for decades.
Installation and maintenance of engineered wood flooring
Installation of engineered timber flooring is easier than solid hardwood, but the layered surface means that you can’t install it over under floor heating, since that may cause the layers to separate with prolonged use. It’s best installed over solid subfloors like concrete, which it can stick on easily. If you’re installing your wood flooring yourself, ask your supplier on how to lay the planks in the best possible way.
You can’t maintain engineered wooden floors – if you sand them off more than once or twice, you’ll be removing the top layer. The best way to keep them in pristine condition is to install a rug or carpet to help reduce impact damage.
Engineered timber flooring is a good investment for homeowners looking for a classic yet practical approach to their wood flooring. It’s less trouble to maintain than solid hardwood and can be more versatile in where it’s placed in the home.
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