Unlike solid hardwood surfaces, engineered hardwood floors are a comparatively modern creation.
Engineered flooring was created in the 1960s to fit basements and the first floors of buildings constructed on concrete slabs.
As installing traditional hardwood flooring in these locations proved challenging, designers developed engineering flooring to offer a similar aesthetic with less trouble.
Engineered hardwood was created due to manufacturers’ need for remarkably stable flooring and more resistance to moisture and temperature changes than solid hardwood.
Table of Contents
- What is Engineered hardwood flooring?
- Pros of the engineered wood floors
- Cons of engineered wood floors
- Summary (pros and cons of engineered hardwood flooring)
What is Engineered hardwood flooring?
Engineered hardwood flooring is a product that contains a softwood core that is covered by a base layer that is often composed of plywood.
A hardwood veneer or wear layer, which is also covered in a finish, is placed over the softwood core.
The decorative layer must be made of real wood for a floor to be categorized as engineered wood. The natural wood decorative top layer can be any thickness.
Thicker top layers have a longer lifespan and thus can be sanded more times. Also worth mentioning is the potential cost increase caused by a thicker top layer.
The middle layer of the flooring surface is known as the core. This is made of layers of plywood or softwood. This serves as the foundation to which the decorative layer is bonded.
It adds strength and stability to the overall floor structure. This base layer, the final layer of the engineered hardwood floor, adds stability to the overall structure.
There are several types of engineered wood floors. The most common type is a multi-ply engineered wood floor. It has the closest underfoot sensation to solid wood flooring.
The multiple layers add extra protection against cupping and over-expansion. The total thickness is typically between 13mm and 20mm.
The additional strength in the core plywood allows for stability in widths as wide as 350mm. 3-ply engineered floor is another excellent choice, with thickness ranging from 12-18mm.
When installed, it feels fantastic while providing excellent resistance to cupping and over-expansion.
A less common type is HDF-core engineered flooring. They are, however, becoming more popular due to their versatility.
The core is compatible with DIY-friendly click installation systems, making installation quick and easy.
Because high-density fiber cores are naturally strong, the total thickness can often be reduced, making transitions between floor types easier.
Pros of the engineered wood floors
Durability, long-term cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and a surprising variety of options!
Engineered hardwood flooring gives users the ambiance of luxury that wooden surfaces offer.
1. Quick, easy, and Cheap Installation
If you buy engineered wood flooring as a click-together system, one of its primary pros is how quickly and easily it can be installed.
Click-together flooring is self-explanatory like pre-cut floorboards snap together quickly.
These systems can be installed as “floating floors,” overlapping existing floors without breaking the base and glued down.
This simple installation process can significantly reduce the installation cost of engineered hardwood floors, but discuss specifics with your contractor. They’ll probably thank you for making things easier for them.
2. Comfort and appearance
Engineered wood flooring provides greater width flexibility. Once installed, engineered wood flooring may be mistaken for solid wood due to the veneer layer.
Engineered wood flooring is almost always sold pre-finished, with fewer color and style options than hardwood.
Engineered hardwood flooring has the timeless aesthetic appeal of solid hardwood surfaces.
3. Not easily dirty
To keep engineered wood flooring clean, sweep and vacuum it. Mopping it with wood cleaner can help prevent stains and revitalize the top layer.
The top hardwood layer on most engineered wood floors is not thick enough to be sanded and refinished over time.
Engineered hardwood flooring does not trap debris, dander, or unpleasant floors like carpet does, making it ideal for pets.
One advantage of engineered wood flooring planks, particularly those put using the click-and-lock technique, is that they can be easily replaced even when the entire floor cannot be sanded and refinished.
Even though engineered wood flooring can’t be refinished as frequently as solid hardwood, it can still survive for up to 30 years or longer with the proper care.
5. Lower Cost
Engineered hardwood flooring can be a more affordable option compared to some other flooring options.
Everything associated with engineered wood flooring is less expensive than solid wood flooring, including the materials and labor.
The cost is not applicable for all hardwood species; engineered teak floor < solid oak floor, but engineered oak floor > solid oak floor.
Engineered wood can be more economical yet have a realistic appearance. Especially on more expensive, premium timbers like American Black Walnut.
An engineered board uses less expensive walnut since the multi-laminate plywood under-core makes up most of the construction.
6. Temperature and Moisture Resistant
The composite core layers of engineered wood flooring allow them to withstand temperature or moisture fluctuations.
Its dimensional stability prevents warping and other deformities when it comes into contact with water.
Engineered wood is better suited to withstand water damage than traditional wood flooring.
There is significantly less general swelling and shrinking on an engineered hardwood floor than on a traditional wood floor.
However, some warping might occur when moisture issues are ignored (such as those caused by a pool of water).
Durable Engineered floors are ideal for damp spaces like bathrooms and basements due to their moisture resistance.
Engineered wooden floors might be the best exotic wood floor option for a sustainable environment.
These floorings are sustainable and environmentally beneficial since they use less hazardous glue to join the layers and produce little to no sawdust.
Having said that, this differs from business to business, so check the manufacturer’s environmental credentials before making a purchase.
Wood flooring options make homes green and environmentally friendly as the focus on leading a greener lifestyle grows.
8. Extensive Variety
The extensive selection of grades, dimensions, colors, and finishes offered by engineered wooden flooring is another fantastic advantage, Especially in oak.
It’s usually much simpler to locate engineered hardwood flooring that suits your interests, purpose, design, and lifestyle—not to mention your budget—now that so many options are available.
Cons of engineered wood floors
Engineered hardwood floors can be a great alternative in some situations due to their style, esthetic appeal, versatility, and ease of installation.
However, compared to other flooring options, they also have several disadvantages. The following are a few of the most frequent drawbacks of this flooring choice:
1. Possibly Weak
The poor structural integrity results from manufacturers using cheap flooring materials to save time and money.
It may appear solid and stable on the surface, but it quickly deteriorates. Always choose a reputable manufacturer when purchasing engineered hardwood flooring.
2. Maintenance and care
Engineered floors necessitate particular care and maintenance. Avoid using harsh chemicals and excessive water.
Use doormats or rugs in high-traffic areas—you do not want the finish to flake off your floor.
You will risk exposing the core layers if you are not confident that the wood veneer layer is thick enough.
Do not perform sanding and refinishing floors in this case. Despite its durability, engineered hardwood flooring is prone to scratches and dents, making it unsuitable for high-traffic areas.
It is also worth noting that, unlike solid hardwood floors, it may be impossible to remove deep gouges and scratches from them.
3. Eventually fades out
This is another disadvantage engineered hardwood has in common with traditional hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood is photosensitive.
Most of this discoloration will be caused by UV light, but infrared light can also cause fading.
If exposed to UV rays for an extended period, the wood will fade, which is not a problem that can be easily repaired.
You can reduce the risk of fading by closing curtains or covering vulnerable areas using rugs.
You can even enable temperature regulation indoors, potentially lowering your energy bills. Low-E-coated glass may also be advantageous.
Even though its manufacturing process reduces waste, engineered hardwood flooring has a glued core.
Unlike solid wood floor, which is entirely natural, this adhesive may contain harmful products.
5. Not the best Overall Longevity
Regardless of their durability and resistance to gapping, cupping, and crowning, engineered hardwood floors typically last 20 to 40 years, less than many other flooring options.
High-quality, long-lasting floors can last even longer. Up to 50 years, if properly maintained, significantly restricting damage to the veneer.
Solid hardwood with better acoustic qualities than engineered hardwood can dampen echoes.
Due to its greater density and hardness, it may disperse sound more evenly around a room and effectively stop reverberations.
7. Repair is challenging
It may be required to replace the entire flooring surface if damage to engineered hardwood is too severe to be repaired. It might cost you more expensive than the other flooring options.
8. Challenging refinishing
Generally speaking, refinishing is not appropriate for engineered hardwood flooring. You won’t be able to sand it and apply a protective finish.
Some engineered wood can be refinished just once, and some cannot even be refinished.
The thickness of your veneer layer determines everything. A thicker veneer layer can be refinished more than once.
If there isn’t enough wood in the veneer layer, sanding will take you down to the core layer.
Summary (pros and cons of engineered hardwood flooring)
|Quick, Easy, and Cheap installation|
|Comfort and Aesthetic appearance|
|Not easily dirty|
|Temperature and Moisture resistance|
|Possibly weak option|
|Maintenance and care|
|Eventually fades out|
|Toxicity from glue|
|Not the best overall longevity|
|Challenging to repair|
Yes, engineered hardwood has some drawbacks, despite being one of the most desirable types of wood flooring.
Engineered hardwood flooring is perfect for your home since it has several advantages.
These qualities allow it to increase the value of your homes, such as the simple natural sophistication connected with wood, superior acoustics to other flooring types, and increased longevity.
There are other types of flooring you can explore before deciding what is best for you. Explore the pros and cons of various flooring options.
(Last Updated on September 23, 2022)