Engineered Hardwood Floors

Date Posted : August 15, 2016

At the forefront of the hardwood flooring revolution is engineered hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood flooring comes in two types of products: glue-down and floating.

Flooring is no longer an after thought. It has become the foundation on which rooms are designed. The floor is an integral part of any décor and given that it is not easily changed, it is vital to pick a floor that will stand up and stand out. That is one of the reasons behind the advancement of hardwood flooring. At the forefront of the hardwood flooring revolution is engineered hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood flooring comes in two types of products: glue-down and floating.

Floating hardwood is ideal for condominiums or basements because it is easy to install and can be laid over concrete slab. Although, floating hardwood expands and contracts because it does not have the same support structure as glue-down hardwood, it is still 3 times more stable than solid wood flooring.

Engineered wood floors are generally 2,3, or 5 thin sheets of wood that are laminated together to form one plank. These floors will range from 1/4" to 9/16" in thickness, and from 2 1/4" to 7" in width. The lengths will be random and range from 12" - 60" in length. The top finish layer can be cut from a variety of domestic or exotic hardwood species. In the construction of engineered wood floors the wood plies are stacked on top of each other but in the opposite directions. This creates a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4" solid wood floor. This means you can install these floors over concrete slabs in basements, as well as anywhere else in the home.

Wood always wants to expand in a certain direction. In the presence of moisture solid wood planks will always expand across the width of the planks, rather than down the length of the boards. To avoid this problem, manufacturers of engineered planks place each ply in the opposite direction of each other. This is called cross-ply construction. Once the wood layers are glued together the plies will counteract each other which will stop the plank from growing or shrinking with changes in the humidity. So if moisture is a concern then you should choose an engineered type floor versus a solid strip floor.
Because engineered wood floors are made up of several layers of wood that are all glued together it's possible to change the top finish layer to a totally different wood specie without driving the costs out of sight. So if you want to choose from a variety of domestic and exotic hardwoods than you should definitely look at an engineered wood floor.

Most engineered floors can be nailed down, stapled down, glued down, or floated over a wide variety of subfloors, including some types of existing flooring. You can also buy engineered floors in varying widths. They generally come in 2 1/4", 3", 5", and 7" widths and widths can be mixed, such as 3-5-7 inch planks installed side by side. By varying the board widths you can change the total appearance of the floor.

The below are some frequently asked questions about Engineered Hardwood Flooring.

Q. What is engineered hardwood flooring?
A. Engineered hardwood flooring is a product made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core and is available in almost any hardwood species. The product thus has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer. The “engineered” product has been designed to provide greater stability, particularly where moisture or heat pose problems for solid hardwood floors.

Q. How many layers does engineered flooring have?
A. In addition to the top hardwood veneer, engineered wood flooring typically has three or more core layers. Of course, there is greater stability with more layers. The core layers may be plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood. For example, Vanier engineered flooring has five to seven hardwood core layers.

Q. Can I refinish an engineered floor?
A. It depends upon the thickness of your hardwood layer but the fact is that 95 % of hardwood surfaces are never refinished. With the high quality finishes that are offered and the extensive process that refinishing a floor entails, damaged areas are often removed professionally. If sanding is desired, typically, the professional sanding procedure removes 1/32 of an inch. Thus if your floor has a 2mm layer you can sand the floor 1-2 times.

Q. What does greater stability mean?
A. The instability of solid hardwood is usually moisture or heat related. Under adverse conditions, solid hardwood floors can warp, cup, swell or split apart. Engineered hardwood flooring overcomes these problems by constructing a multiple-ply plank which counteracts twisting and remains flat and intact. This makes engineered hardwood flooring a better choice for installation over radiant heat sources, over concrete whether it’s below grade or above, and in rainy climates.

Q. Is the Janka rating useful for engineered hardwood flooring?
A. The Janka rating is a good one to keep in mind for engineered hardwood flooring as well as solid hardwood, especially if durability is a key selling feature for you. The Janka hardness rating of the hardwood used for the veneer on your engineered flooring will guide you to the best choice for your intended flooring use. Vanier Hard Maple, Brazilian Cherry and Hand-scraped Oak, Red Oak, and Black-Stained White Oak are all excellent engineered floors for high traffic areas.