Although somewhat more expensive than laminate flooring, engineered flooring provides the customer with a cost-effective alternative to solid wood flooring. There is a wide range of engineered flooring available to the consumer, from softwoods such as pine and fir, to hardwoods such as ash and oak. Engineered oak flooring, for example, is a popular choice for its beauty, both in grain, texture and color.
Making engineered flooring involves putting several layers of wood together under high pressure. This creates a flooring with greater strength and durability than wooden flooring made of solid wood. In general, this type of flooring is built using three distinct layers: a bottom, middle, and top. The middle layer is usually constructed of plywood, softwood, or high-density fiber layers. The top layer consists of hardwood veneer, which can be both finished and unfinished.
Engineered wood floors can be sanded and refinished to repair scratches, gouges and other types of damage. Depending on the thickness of the top layer, which can vary from 0.6 mm to 6 mm, the flooring can be sanded and refinished up to 4-5 times. This type of flooring lasts 30-40 years on average, or up to 60-100 years if you choose to install the thickest top layer varieties.
Unlike solid wood flooring that tends to shrink and expand depending on moisture and heat levels, engineered floors resist such changes. Although not designed to withstand the rigors of basements and bathrooms, engineered flooring can withstand moisture levels that would damage solid wood.
Engineered hardwood flooring provides all the benefits of sold hardwood flooring with few of the drawbacks. It does not need to be installed by professionals and provides superior resistance to warping. However, like with solid hardwood flooring, it is important to realize that an engineered hardwood floor can vary dramatically in color and texture from one manufacturer to another and even between the same species and style of wood. This difference is accentuated by aging and wear.
It is essential when replacing sections of engineered hardwood to have actual samples of replacement wood on hand to compare to the floors installed. Never base replacement decisions on photos from the Internet or catalogs as there is no guarantee that the woods will match. If possible, research the origin of the engineered flooring that needs replacement so that product from the original manufacturer can be used. Even then it is important to compare samples, as color change due to aging is always a factor.
With all of the benefits that engineered flooring brings, it is a great choice to consider when installing or replacing existing flooring.