What Is Engineered Wood

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Engineered wood, also known as man-made wood, composite wood, and manufactured board, includes a variety of derivative wood products.

People usually make it out of lumber and other byproducts such as sawdust. These particles are then glued and pressed together under pressure to form a usable wood alternative.

This method reduces waste and saves money. The idea is to create a wood alternative that is equally durable at a lower cost.

Today, people mainly use it as a substrate, which means that they cover it with either wood veneer or laminate.

It has grown to become one of the most popular flooring options due to its characteristics.

This article reveals the main types of engineered wood flooring and other products, their benefits and applicability. Keep reading to discover what is engineered wood.

Types of Engineered Wood 

types of engineered wood

Engineered wood encompasses many different products. It is very popular due its high quality and broad applicability. Here are some of the main engineered wood products and their uses.

  • Plywood

Plywood is one of the first engineered wood products. It is a flat panel made by combining and pressure-pressing together a number of thin layers of plies or veneers. Strong moisture-resistant adhesives help make it compact and durable. However, how strong and durable a piece of plywood is depends on the characteristics of the plies that constitute it. One of the main usage of plywood is for roof and floor decking, as well as for wall sheathing boards.

  • Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL)

This engineered wood product is made by bonding vertical softwood veneers together. The grain of the veneers is always parallel to the longitudinal axis of the section. As a result, this product shows high dimensional stability and enhanced mechanical properties. You can use it for high-load applications or as panels and beam elements.

  • Densified Wood

The main benefit of this particular engineered wood is its increased density. People usually use high heat to compress different wood fibers. As a result, the density is increased by a factor of three which improves its overall strength and stiffness.

  • Laminated Strand Lumber (LSL)

LSL is made by cutting long strands which are then glued together with an adhesive to form a billet or a mat. Similar to laminated veneer lumber, LVL has very good mechanical performance. For this reason, people usually use it for headers, beams, studs and millwork components.

  • Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL)

Along with LSL and LVL, parallel strand lumber is a member of the structural composite lumber family. It is very similar to LSL. A number of long and thin veneer strands constitute it. They are all bonded together to create a structure that can support very heavy loads.

These are just some of the engineered wood products. You can also find glued laminated timber, cross laminated timber, oriented strand board, beams, trusses, and many more.

Engineered Wood Flooring 

types of engineered wood flooring

One of the main usages of engineered wood is flooring. People like it because it is less expensive than real wood, yet it feels and looks like hardwood, or close enough.

This type of flooring usually uses a thin veneer of an expensive wood that is attached to the engineered wood base. Each layer is laid at a 90-degree angle to increase the stability of the floor.

You can also install over an existing subfloor, which increases its practicality. This is the favorite type of flooring among Europeans, but its popularity has been growing rapidly in North America as well. Some of the main types of engineered wood floorings include

  • Timber wood floors

  • Acrylic impregnated wood flooring

  • Veneer floors

  • Laminate and vinyl floors

The difference between these types is mainly in the construction process and the materials they use.

Structure of Engineered Wood Flooring

You know now that plywood is one of the main engineered wood products. As such, it is usually the core substrate of this type of flooring. Aside from it, hardwood veneer or skin also constitutes the base.

On the very top, there is an overlay called lamella, which is actually made of real, solid wood. That way, engineered wood flooring has the same looks as solid wood flooring, yet it can be both stronger and cheaper.

Benefits of Engineered Wood Flooring

benefits of engineered wood flooring

Different types of floorings can be overwhelming if you are inexperienced in them. Take a look at the main benefits of engineered wood flooring

  • Looks

People enjoy this type of flooring primarily because of its looks. You can enjoy virtually the same looks as natural wood. This wasn't always the case. In the past, this flooring looked mediocre in comparison, but recent innovations have improved this aspect. Sometimes, even the experts may not be able to distinguish real wood from engineered.

  • Durability

Because it's made of a number of thin layers, these floors are very durable. All of the layers are bonded together firmly and then topped with an overlay. This structure ensures high tear and wear resistance, so you won't have to worry about damaging it easily.

  • No Contracting or Expanding

This may be one of engineered wood flooring's main advantages. If you spill water on it, it probably won't change its form. This means that you don't have to worry about moisture and frequent temperature changes, which isn't the case with solid wood. You may even use it for the kitchen or bathroom. Also, if you have radiant heating at home, engineered wood flooring is a safe option.

  • Sanding Is Possible

If you have had your flooring for a long time, you can easily freshen its look. Engineered wood flooring usually lasts very long without changing its looks, but you may need to do it after a while. Depending on the thickness of the overlay, you can re-sand most types of engineered wood floorings.

  • Versatility

With engineered wood flooring, you have the possibility of choosing its look, grade, and finish. The top layers, or lamellas, come in various colors and patterns. You can get creative and make a perfect combination to suit your home. This can be particularly handy if you have a tight budget. You will be able to save a lot of money yet achieve a very sophisticated look.

  • Easy Installation

One more reason why people love engineered wood flooring is its easy installation. Most of the time you can DIY without hiring and paying for professional help. Some types have a click-in system which means that you can put them together easily. Others require glue or other adhesives. Aside from the easy installation, you can also quickly remove engineered wood flooring. This is great for those who like to frequently redecorate their homes.

  • Cost

Finally, you won't spend a lot of money on this. It is less expensive than solid wood. However, the overall price depends on the type of wood you choose as an overlay since those can get quite expensive.

Life Cycle of Engineered Wood Flooring

Factors that determine how long engineered wood flooring will last include the manufacturing process as well as durability and thickness of the wear layer.

Also, the amount of force that it has to endure can affect the lifespan. It may be prone to scratches after longer periods of time.

Most of them last between 20 and 30 years. However, people tend to renovate their homes more often than that, so the flooring doesn't even get to the point of wearing too much.

Normally, different manufacturers will provide you with specific information related to the flooring you want to get. Most of them offer warranties as well, so that you can get professional assistance in case of defects.

Engineered Wood Floorings vs Solid Wood Floorings

Although both options have its advantages, there are some differences you should keep in mind when choosing the type of flooring for your home.

First, solid wood flooring has a length limit. The maximum dimensions are 127mm wide and 2100mm long.

Also, it may contain extra gaps between planks, which would ruin its looks. It is very sensitive to humidity so it may curve upwards when humidity increases. It is not advisable to use solid wood flooring with radiant heating, as it is also temperature sensitive.

However, it may have a more sophisticated look in some cases and it is a good long-term investment. It is very durable and can withstand high loads.

Engineered wood, on the other hand, comes in different sizes. Due to its complex structure, there is no risk of extra gaps. It is moisture resistant and doesn't respond to temperature changes. If you use radiant heating, it may be a good choice.

However, its durability directly depends on the quality of the inner layers, so it may not last as long as solid wood. Also, you won't be able to refinish engineered wood as many times as you can hardwood.

Final Thoughts

For those who were wondering what is engineered wood, this article provides a basic overview. Engineered wood is generally a great method of saving waste and creating strong and durable wood products.

It has wide applicability. Homeowners often use engineered wood flooring which has multiple benefits. If you are looking for a nice design combined with high durability and relatively affordable prices, this can be a great solution.

Learn more about the differences between solid and engineered wood right here.

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