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What is Engineered Wood Flooring?

Updated 30/08/2023

This is a common question we often hear from customers, and that’s understandable. Most people understand what wood floors are. They’re made of solid timber. But what are engineered wood floors?

When you’re getting ready to purchase wood flooring, it’s good to understand the difference between real wood floors and engineered wood floors. We’ve put together some information in this article to help you learn what engineered wood flooring is, and more.


What is Engineered Flooring?

When you see the term “engineered wood flooring,” you know right away this is not the same as “wood flooring.” Engineered wood flooring is made from wood, but it’s also made with layers of other materials that are put together like a sandwich. In other words, the wood and other materials are engineered together to create flooring.

However, engineered wood flooring is not the same as laminate or wood-effect flooring. These floorings have a printed top layer that looks like wood, whereas engineered flooring usually has a wood layer that’s between 2.5 mm to 6 mm thick. This layer is called the “wear layer,” which makes it much easier to repair the floor, even if it needs to be sanded. The wear layer can also be refinished; however, laminate and wood-effect flooring don’t have a wear layer. If they are sanded, the printed top layer is removed, and the flooring is damaged.

Under the wear layer, engineered wood flooring has a cross-layer core that provides the strength and stability that all flooring needs. Different materials are used for this layer; however, plywood or softwood are usually used here. This layer makes the engineered flooring even more stable than solid wood flooring.

The last layer for engineered wood floors is the veneer layer. It’s added for balance on the bottom of the board.

When you look at an engineered plank, you’ll notice the top layer is real wood. This is usually oak but can also be walnut or even pine. Engineered flooring of this kind is a greener choice, as it helps the wood go farther. Only natural wood is used for the wear layer rather than the entire thickness of the plank. With solid wood flooring, the entire plank (all the way through) is solid wood. This kind of flooring uses up more wood than engineered wood flooring.

In addition, the engineering process makes the flooring more durable by keeping expansion, contraction, and warping to a minimum. This is what makes engineered flooring more durable and stronger than solid wood floors. Engineered wood floors also last longer than laminate or wood-effect flooring, too. While engineered flooring is stronger and lasts longer, the engineering process does mean this flooring is usually more expensive than solid wood flooring.


What Types of Engineered Flooring Are Available?

Engineered flooring comes in a broad range of board types, with a variety of different finishes and more. For instance, you’ll find traditional straight boards, herringbone planks, and design panels. When it comes to finishes, they’re either lacquered or oiled. However, you may also find brushed, and matt lacquered boards and even some that have a sawed finish.

The lacquered finish is done with several layers of lacquer applied to the hardwood top layer. The result is a shiny, smooth finish. The lacquer also works to create a hard, long-wearing finish that protects the top layer from damage. With proper care, the lacquered layers can last for years. However, it will eventually begin to wear. At that point, it’s necessary to sand the lacquer off and reapply fresh lacquer.

An oiled finish offers the wood a more natural look. Here, layers of oil are applied, with each layer absorbed into the word. This offers more protection from dirt and scuffs. The finish lets the wood’s texture show through, but the oiled finish requires regular reapplications of oil to keep the wood from drying out and growing dull.

The type of finish has a huge impact on the look and feel of the floor. So, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to the differences and choose the one that’s right for your home and décor. It’s also a good idea to order samples of flooring and visit a showroom to discuss your flooring needs and ideas with experts. They can help guide you to the right floor for your home.


Room Suitability & Where to Use Engineered Flooring

Engineered wood floors look and feel like natural solid wood flooring. But they offer the benefit of being engineered, which affords more stability and versatility than traditional wood floors can offer. This makes the engineered flooring a great choice for most areas of the house. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right rooms for this flooring.

For instance, lacquered floors are usually easier to clean and maintain than oiled flooring. They also resist spills better than an oiled floor. Even so, no matter what type of flooring you choose, it’s always best to wipe up spills as soon as possible.

Oiled floorings can show signs of wear sooner than a lacquered finished floor. Of course, if you’re going for a more traditional, lived-in look, this may work for you. On the other hand, oiled floors are also more prone to damage from spills. It’s best to avoid using an oiled floor in the kitchen, bathroom, and the laundry room for this reason.

When it comes to fitting engineered wood flooring into a room, it’s not recommended for spaces that have a high moisture environment or rooms at risk of water leaks. It’s best to avoid using engineered wood in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms for these reasons. However, if you’d like the look of wood floors in these rooms, it’s recommended that you choose water-resistant flooring for these spaces.


Summing It Up

As you can see, engineered wood floors can be used in a wide variety of rooms. They offer the look and feel of real wood because the top layer is always made of true wood. The supporting layers make engineered wood stronger and more durable. While it may cost more, you’re getting more for your money with flooring that will last for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can engineered wood flooring be refinished?
A: Yes, most engineered wood floors can be refinished, but the number of times depends on the thickness of the wear layer.

Q: How does engineered wood flooring compare to laminate flooring?
A: While both offer similar aesthetics, engineered wood flooring consists of real wood, making it more durable and adding value to your home.

Q: Is engineered wood flooring suitable for areas with high foot traffic?
A: Absolutely. Engineered wood flooring’s durability makes it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas.

Q: Can I install engineered wood flooring below ground level?
A: Yes, its layered construction makes it suitable for below-grade installations.

Q: Does engineered wood flooring require special maintenance?
A: Regular sweeping and occasional damp mopping are usually sufficient. Avoid excessive moisture to maintain its integrity.

Q: Can I install engineered wood flooring myself?
A: Many engineered wood flooring options offer DIY-friendly installation methods, but if you’re unsure, it’s best to consult a professional.

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