- Widest installation options
- Available as unfinished or prefinished
- Highly dimensionally stable against changes in humidity
- Can be installed on-at-above grade
- Limited refinishing options
- Fewer range of sizes and species
- Quality can vary
- Higher initial cost than unfinished
Engineered wood flooring sales have surpassed those of Solid wood flooring, according to the 2013 NWFA State of the Industry Survey. When you consider the combination of durability and versatility, it’s not hard to understand why.
Engineered flooring offers the broadest range of wood floor applications
Like plywood, engineered wood floors are made up of multiple layers of wood veneer with a cross-ply construction. This manufacturing process makes the slats or planks more dimensionally stable. As a result, engineered floors are far less prone to cupping and curling, making them suitable for use in basements and even in bathrooms.
Another characteristic that broadens the range of applications is the thickness of engineered floors. Typically 3/8” to 5/8” thick, the relative thinness makes it possible to install engineered product over existing sub-flooring with a minimal increase in the level of the finished floor.
Durable finish and a broad range of color choices
Like solid hardwood, engineered wood flooring is available in unfinished and pre-finished options.
It is important that an engineered floor have a maximum “wear layer” or thickness of the actual top wood veneer. Most engineered wood floors have a wear layer that is 1/16” to 3/16″ in thickness. Engineered flooring can be refinished with a bit of extra work and expertise, but the thin top layer of wood means that engineered flooring can only be refinished a few times.
Because engineered wood flooring is very similar to plywood, the manufacturing techniques can also be similar. For example, the wear layer of an engineered wood floor can be rotary cut from the log. While this reduces the cost, it also has the visual appearance of plywood, which is distinctly different than the flat cuts from solid hardwood. (nwfa photo)
Engineered wood flooring installation
Installation of engineered wood flooring varies by the design of the locking edge of the strips or planks. Some engineered wood flooring, often the less expensive type favored by DIY-ers, lock-and-fold or snap together. This eliminates the need for gluing or nailing as the finished floor floats on top of a rubber substrate. (photo)
The higher quality engineered product that has more plies and is thicker, typically features a traditional tongue and groove long edge. Because of the thickness and dimensional stability of most tongue-and-groove engineered flooring, it can be stapled, glued or nailed to the subfloor. In basement or bathroom installations, engineered flooring is often floated which allows the floor to expand and contract with changes in moisture and relative humidity
Like solid-prefinished flooring, engineered floors typically have an eased edge which helps to hide any minute variation called “over-wood” in the installed height of each slat due to imperfections in the subfloor.