Engineered Hardwood uses one of several processes to build the wood so it has a natural wood appearance yet has the advantages of engineered, or manufactured wood. These advantages are:
- Dimensional Stability - All natural wood has a tendency to swell and shrink as a reaction to seasonal changes in ambient humidity. This varies by species; for example, white oak is more dimensionally stable than red oak is. Engineered wood is less susceptible to this tendency than almost all natural woods.
- Warping, Cupping, Twisting - While well-dried wood has some resistance to additional shape changes, extreme humidity or water damage can still cause these reactions. Engineered wood resists these.
- Economical - Because engineered hardwood uses less of the expensive hardwood per square foot of coverage, it costs less than solid hardwood of the same species.
- Environment - If one oak tree can provide 400 square feet of hardwood flooring, the same tree could provide 1200 - 1600 square feet of engineered wood flooring, conserving our hardwood trees.
How Is Engineered Hardwood Made?
Thin layers of less-attractive wood are glued together, with adjoining layers running their grain pattern at 90 degrees from the layers surrounding it, giving dimensional stability that solid wood lacks. The top layer, also known as the wear layer or lamella, uses a layer of hardwood for appearance. The thickness of the lamella is an important factor in the expected longevity of the floor.
How is Engineered Hardwood Flooring Installed?
Engineered hardwood flooring, like solid hardwood flooring, is produced with tongue and groove edges. Solid hardwood must be installed over a wooden subfloor, where engineered flooring (excepting the newer Click Lock style) can be glued down directly to dry concrete or stapled to a wooden subfloor. It can be installed over existing wood flooring, tile, or vinyl.
The Click Lock style have a groove style that locks together seamlessly, and require no glue in installation. It is simply laid down over a foam or cork underlayment.
How Long Will Engineered Hardwood Flooring Last?
This is a direct result of the thickness of the lamella, or wear layer, and the care it receives in use. Engineered hardwood flooring can have a wear layer as thin as 0.6 mm or as thick as 6 mm. After extended wear, hardwood flooring can be sanded down to a fresh surface and refinished.
Solid hardwood flooring is typically 3/4" thick, and has a wear layer 5/16" thick. If it is sanded down below that point, it shows the nails that were used to fasten it down, and must be replaced. It can be sanded down and refinished 5-7 times over its useful life, which is about 100 years with proper care.
Engineered flooring will last as long as solid hardwood between sandings, given equivalent care and traffic. An engineered wood floor with a 4 mm (5/32") wear layer can be sanded down 4-5 times over its lifetime, for an expected life of 60-80 years. A floor with a thinner wear layer won't last as long, a floor with a thicker wear layer will last longer.