Wood floors add a touch of character to any home. Solid or engineered wood floors bring value and warmth into the interior of your home, and once installed, they can be very difficult to tell apart. In fact, even trained eyes have trouble distinguishing between a solid or engineered hardwood floor. Just because they look the same doesn’t mean they act the same, but most homeowners are confused when it comes to what to install in their own home. Luckily, it’s not so complicated. Engineered hardwood planks behave a bit differently than solid hardwood planks. They are also easier to install and generally less expensive than their solid counterpart.
Originally, engineered hardwood was developed to use in homes that were built on concrete slabs, but the technology has exponentially increased over the past 20 years to allow engineered planks to be used just about everywhere indoors.
Increased Stability of Engineered Hardwood
While not waterproof by any means, engineered hardwood was designed to withstand higher levels of moisture than solid wood planks. This makes them a great choice for homeowners who need wood floors over concrete, which has higher levels of moisture than most floors, or in a dry basement. Engineered hardwood also stands up better to heat than solid hardwood does. In extreme heat conditions, like being next to a furnace, solid hardwood can warp and buckle, but engineered hardwood will better keep its shape.
Increased heat and moisture resistance is due to the design of engineered hardwood. The substrate or under layer of the floor is made up of layered plywood , about 1-2 centimeters thick, stacked up in a criss-cross pattern to give the plank greater stability. On top of the layers lies a thin layer or veneer of the desired wood (oak, maple, walnut, etc…). If thick enough, this veneer can be refinished multiple times. While thicker veneers come with heftier price tags, they are worth the investment for homeowners looking for a lifelong flooring solution.
Importance Of Layer Thickness
When shopping for engineered hardwood, the layer thickness is just as important as how the top veneer looks. The different thicknesses exist so that engineered hardwood can be used without awkward transitions between rooms and flooring types, the most common being between kitchen or bathroom tiled floors and wooden flooring.
While developed for use over concrete slabs, thicker planks of engineered hardwood can be nailed down over a wood subfloor in the same way you would install a solid hardwood floor. Thinner layers are best when glued down, in the same way you would install laminate or vinyl wood floor. It’s a fairly straightforward DIY project for the motivated person with a lot of time.
The thinnest of all engineered hardwood layers incorporate an advanced tongue-and-groove system that allows for easiest installation. These floors are usually called floating floors and can be installed directly over a cork or foam underlayment, or even over an older and worn floor (as long as it’s flat).
Need help choosing the right engineered hardwood for your home? Contact the pros at Harman today.