Engineered wood flooring is gaining popularity as a solid wood alternative, partly due to better manufacturing and it’s greener disposition. For homeowners who want the elegant look of solid wood, but need something a little more eco- or budget-friendly, engineered wood is a great choice.
In fact, engineered wood has several benefits over solid wood flooring, such as:
- it can be manufactured and shipped for less, saving you money at retail
- increased stability, due to a multi ply core, resists the gapping in cold climates and cupping in warm climates that solid wood often endures due to expansion and contraction with moisture changes
- increased stability allows for more installation options – engineered wood can be installed on a variety of surfaces with several different installation methods
- sustainability – engineered wood can yield up to three times more square feet of floor covering per tree harvested than solid wood
As for style and durability, manufacturers such as Meritage, Majestic, Versini, Bruce and Armstrong offer engineered wood flooring in exotic species, distressed wood, smooth wood, handscraped wood, hickory, oak, maple and birch. Which product you choose should be primarily based on the type of subfloor it will be installed upon. This will determine which installation methods are best and which engineered product is most appropriate for that type of installation. Also consider the environmental conditions that your engineered flooring will be living in, and how drastic the moisture changes can be.
Most manufacturers suggest a relative humidity range of 35 – 55%, but that can vary based on the technique used to create the surface layer of the product.
Engineered flooring surfaces can be made by several different techniques, including rotary peeling, slicing and sawing. Rotary peeling is the least expensive method and produces the least amount of waste. However, the peeling process causes tiny cracks to form in the peeled layer which are often not noticeable once the surface layer has been glued to the plywood core. When moisture changes push the floor to expand or contract, these tiny cracks may become apparent in the flooring. Slicing and sawing surface layers aren’t as susceptible to these cracks, but they are more expensive methods.
Lastly, consider the traffic patterns of your home. Most of the time it is thought that a thicker surface layer is better, but that’s not always the case. A thicker layer allows for more sanding and refinishing, but sanding isn’t necessary unless you want to stain the floor a different color. Otherwise, floors can be screened and glossed to give them a new look.