Engineered wood has swiftly emerged a preferred choice for flooring in homes and commercial buildings. It is manufactured from a wide range of wood products by binding or fixing the fibres or veneers or boards of wood to form composite materials. Due to its unique natural look and easy installation, engineered wood is getting increasing popularity worldwide as a sustainable flooring option.
Engineered wood flooring is generally available in fixed lengths, but it comes in different thicknesses ranging from 12.5mm to 22mm. An important quality of engineered hardwood flooring is its dimensional stability which makes it possible to be glued using flexible flooring adhesive, nailed or screwed down, or floated over an underlay. For more information, please read about what engineered wood flooring is here.
Types of Engineered Wood Flooring
As the top layer is real wood, one can look out for a wide range of species, colours and finishes, in engineered wood flooring. The main characteristics that define the final appearance of engineered wood flooring includes the species of wood, the grade of the grain, surface finish and the size of the plank. One may find unusual species such as ash, maple, merbau or walnut in an engineered floor. Depending on the construction, engineered wood flooring may be of the following types:
1. Wood ply construction
Many thin plies of wood, which show negligible reaction to climate change, are bound together with wood grain of each ply running perpendicular to the ply underneath it. The application of equal pressure both length-wise and width-wise from the plies makes the wood stable.
2. Finger core construction
Such types of engineered wood floors are made up of small pieces of grinded wood running perpendicular to the top layer (lamella) of wood. Grains running perpendicular to each other not only provides stability to the wood but also reduces expansion and contraction of wood, thus preventing the wood floor from gapping or cupping.
This type of engineered wood flooring is characterised by the presence of high-density fibreboard at the centre. Such types of flooring tend to absorb moisture from the air and should not be exposed to high humidity, otherwise they may expand and undergo deformation. Another disadvantage of fibreboard is their potential to emit harmful gases on contact with adhesive.
4. Hardwood Lamella
This type of engineered wood flooring is quite popular in European countries and involves a softwood core laid perpendicular to the lamella with a final bottom layer of the same premium wood as used for the lamella. The popularity of hardwood lamella flooring stems from the fact that it is widely acknowledged as the best and most stable engineered wood floor.
Benefits of Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood flooring scores over solid hardwood flooring in more ways than one. It is cost-effective, offers easy care and has low maintenance. Engineered wood flooring is available in a variety of styles, such as hickory, oak and maple which when coupled with multiple finishes like matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss, makes it an attractive proposition for homes as well as commercial buildings. In order to enhance its appearance, engineered hardwood offers a wide array of surface effects such as distressed for a slightly rustic appearance or hand scraped for a time worn appearance.
Solid hardwood is a homogenous piece of wood while engineered wood is a layered product made up of a thin slice of hardwood with a base of high-quality plywood. As engineered wood is made in layers, it has better stability and is less prone to deformation due to changes in temperature and humidity.
Engineered wood floors are usually pre-fabricated and can be easily installed using methods such as stapling or nailing and fold-and-lock. Engineered wood can be sanded lightly, once or twice, before the thin upper layer wears away. On the other hand, solid hardwood becomes too thin after years of sanding which hampers its formational uniformity. Another benefit of engineered wood flooring is the ability to be installed in most areas of the home, including underground installation with a protective moisture blocking technique.
Engineered wood has better capability to fight moisture than solid hardwood. The plywood base in engineered wood is dimensionally stable, and does not warps and deforms easily when it comes into contact with moisture. The engineered wood fibre runs in cross-wise layers, in contrast to solid wood’s parallel fibres, which provides more structural stability and enhances its ability to bear moisture and increase durability, thus making it suitable for high-moisture areas such as bathrooms and basements. On the other hand, moisture is the biggest enemy of solid wood floors and never recommended for moisture-prone areas of buildings.
Engineered wood flooring is a sustainable alternative to solid hardwood flooring and laminate flooring as it is less costly, has more dimensional strength, and it looks exactly like hardwood flooring. It is manufactured in such a manner that it provides better stability and resistance to variations in temperature and moisture, thus making it ideal for use in underground heating areas or in rooms where temperature changes significantly, such as conservatories and utility rooms.
The multiple advantages of engineered wood flooring over solid wood flooring justifies its rising popularity as a means to provide organic look to your home at an affordable price.