Engineered Wood Floors

By Paul Anater, Originally Published in Houzz

Engineered wood floor consists of a top wood layer bonded to sub-layers for extra strength.

...Once installed, an engineered wood floor can be difficult to distinguish from a solid plank floor. But believe me, even a trained eye can be fooled as often as not. Even though both types of wood floors bring the look of natural wood into a home, they are very different things. When to use planks and when to go engineered confuses a lot of people. 

It's really not so complicated. Engineered wood floors behave a little differently than plank floors do; they tend to be easier to install and they're usually less expensive than solid planks. 

Wood floors are a classic addition to any home. Barring damage from fire or flood, a well-made and correctly-installed solid wood floor will add warmth, character and value to your interior as long as you're in your house. 

However, not all wood floors are equal, and the many species of wood that get made into floors have different characteristics. Understanding these characteristics will go a long way to help you choose the wood floor right for you. 

Engineered wood floors and solid wood floors are very different things, and there are different situations when one would work better than the other. A future installment of this series will discuss engineered wood floors, but let's get through solid wood first. 

This photo shows a cross section of a high-quality, engineered wood floor. They range in thickness from 3/8" to 3/4" (that's approximately 1 cm to 2 cm). The top layer is a veneer of the desired wood; the thicker that veneer is, the more expensive the floor will be. 

When this top veneer is very thin (.6mm or so) the resulting floor cannot be refinished should that ever be needed. However, when the top veneer is between 2 mm and 6 mm, it can be refinished multiple times. 

The layers in the buildup underneath the veneer top layer are important and also play a role in the final price. There can be anywhere between three and 12 layers of plywood and unfinished white wood, depending on the thickness and quality of the finished product. 

When you are shopping for an engineered wood floor, pay attention to how it's made inside almost as much as you pay attention to how the top layer looks.

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03/14/2014