What Is Engineered Wood Flooring?

So you’re considering getting new hardwood flooring for your home? Engineered wood flooring may be a great choice for you.

Engineered wood flooring was designed to allow homeowners to have hardwood floors below ground level. While not waterproof or water resistant, engineered hardwood has a higher moisture tolerance than solid hardwood and holds up just as well as a basement as it would in a living room, as long as humidity levels remain consistent. In the past few decades, the technology has increased and engineered wood floors are available in almost every configuration imaginable.

Engineered wood flooring is composed of a layered wood core with a solid wood veneer on top. The core usually has between 3 and 12 layers of thin hardwood or plywood cross layered and glued together, which brings stability and strength to the plank. The top layer, a solid wood veneer, can range in type of wood and thickness and is the only visible layer once installed.

Engineered Hardwood Versus Solid Hardwood

While solid hardwood is made from one solid piece of wood, engineered hardwood is made of many thin layers of wood. Both are made from real wood.

Homeowners have been choosing engineered hardwood more and more in the past decade for a variety of reasons. If conditions aren’t right, solid hardwoods can warp, cut, swell, or split apart, especially when there is any level of moisture present. The layers in engineered hardwood give strength to the plank to prevent against any deformities. It is also not recommended that solid hardwood is installed lower than ground level due to moisture, but engineered wood flooring was designed specifically for that reason. Solid hardwood also tends to shrink or buckle when placed near a heat source, but engineered hardwood can withstand the heat.

kitchen with engineered hardwood

Add Home Value With Engineered Hardwood

Hardwood flooring is one of the few flooring options that bring equity and value to a home. If cared for and maintained, hardwood flooring can last for generations, and engineered hardwood is no exception. With the ability to be sanded and refinished, especially in the case of thicker top layer veneers and quality flooring, hardwood can be refinished to adapt to new changes in design.

Choosing The Right Type of Wood

Now that you’ve decided engineered hardwood is the right type of flooring for your home, it’s time to choose what type of wood you want.

Engineered hardwood floors come in just about every species that solid hardwoods. In fact, engineered hardwood is more environmentally friendly than solid hardwood because it uses less wood. If you are hoping to have a rare wood floor in your home, such as Tigerwood, an engineered option will conserve an already sparse resource. This is because engineered flooring only uses a thin veneer of specialized wood on top, while solid hardwood requires the entire plank to be of a specific variety.

One of the most common types we see is engineered oak flooring. Both oak and maple are popular choices among homeowners because of their versatility and classic look. Both are financially responsible, durable, and versatile choices. Engineered oak flooring can come in rustic cuts with many knots and a variety of grain or a contemporary plank with a more clean and polished look.

On the more exotic side, homeowners can also choose hickory, bamboo, cherry, and mahogany, all which are available in engineered planks. Take a look at our Hardwood Wizard to choose the right variety of wood.

hardwood staircase

How To Determine Quality of Engineered Hardwood

Just as there is varying quality in solid hardwood floors, there are a number of factors that will determine the quality in engineered hardwood. The first is the amount of layers in the substrate, or base, of the plank. The more layers the hardwood has, the better the stability and quality. All engineered flooring is not created alike, and the thinner the veneer and overall thickness of the flooring, the sooner it will need to be replaced in your home.

The top veneer is another sign of a quality engineered hardwood plank. The top veneer is usually between .6mm and 6mm thick. Planks with thin top veneers, usually 1mm or less, cannot be sanded or refinished, which shortens the lifespan of the wood. As the top layer layer thickness increases, so does the lifespan of the plank and the amount of refinishing that can be done. A plank that has a wear layer of 4mm, for example, can be refinished 4-5 times and has a lifespan of 60-80 years or more.

Installation of Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered hardwood has a fairly simple and straightforward installation process. It can be installed over concrete, over a subfloor, or even over existing flat hardwood or tile floors. The planks can be glued, stapled, or nailed to a floor depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are up for a challenge, engineered hardwoods have been successfully self-installed by many DIYers. (If you need the tools to install the planks yourself, you can stop by our showroom and rent out what you need!)

Click Loc engineered hardwood is becoming a popular choice for homeowner because of the ease of installation. They have special tongue in groove systems that lock together for a seamless appearance that require no glue, staples, or nails during installation, but instead lay flat over a cork or foam base.