What Is Engineered Wood Flooring?

Dec 17, 2023

Engineered wood flooring is a versatile and attractive flooring option made by bonding multiple layers of wood together in a cross-ply construction. The top layer is quality solid wood that gives the look and feel of a solid hardwood floor. Underneath are multiple layers of either high-density fiberboard (HDF) or plywood, lending stability and strength.

Engineered wood offers the beauty of solid wood with greater dimensional stability. The cross-ply build means it resists expansion and contraction far better than solid wood when humidity levels change.

This stops gaps opening up and makes it suitable for use over underfloor heating. Engineered wood can also cover a concrete subfloor directly, unlike solid wood which needs a plywood layer between.

Composition and Construction

Engineered wood consists of at least three layers but can have seven or more. On top is a layer of quality hardwood between 2-12mm thick, usually oak, walnut, maple, cherry or exotic species like kempas or jatoba. This face layer determines the look, feel and eventual thickness of sanding when refinished.

Underneath are layers of either high-density fiberboard (HDF) made from wood fibers compressed with resins, or layers of plywood with the grains running perpendicular to the layer above. This creates a cross-ply effect that prevents the wood from moving too much across the width or length as humidity changes. The total thickness ranges from 14-15mm up to 22mm.

Composition and Construction

Engineered flooring comes in either plank or parquet format. Engineered planks have tongues and grooves on the sides to connect together firmly. Parquet-engineered flooring uses a Click Connect system with valves and slots instead of tongues. Both float over the subfloor rather than being nailed or glued down.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Engineered wood brings some clear advantages over solid wood:

  • Greater stability: The cross-ply build and extra layers mean engineered wood moves 50% less than solid when humidity changes. This greatly reduces gaps opening up.
  • Can be used over underfloor heating: The even heat transmission and stability allow engineered floors over heating systems running at up to 27°C. Always double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Easier installation: Engineered tongues and grooves or Click Connect systems make self-install easier than nailing down solid wood. No glue or nailing into the subfloor is required.
  • More affordable: Prices are generally on par with quality laminates but cheaper than solid wood equivalents. Durability and life span match solid wood when maintained.
  • Can go directly onto concrete: No wood subfloor is required, saving time and money over solid wood. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations including any moisture barriers required.

Potential disadvantages include:

  • Only refinish 1-2 times: The top layer of wood determines how often engineered flooring can be refinished – usually only once or twice depending on thickness.
  • Not suitable for wet areas: Water getting under engineered wood causes permanent damage. It should be avoided in bathrooms or damp basements unless completely sealed. Laminate or vinyl works better in wet areas.
  • Dents easier than solid wood: The soft inner core means engineered wood can dent if heavy objects are dropped. Use felt pads under appliance feet and furniture.

So in summary, engineered brings excellent stability, customization options and affordability compared to solid wood flooring. Just be aware it has a thinner wood layer on top and avoid getting it wet.

Applications of Engineered Wood

Flooring Engineered wood offers versatility making it one of the most popular flooring options for residential and commercial spaces. Key applications include:

Residential Homes

  • Living rooms – brings warmth and value
  • Dining rooms – complements natural wood dining sets
  • Bedrooms – softer underfoot than tile or stone
  • Second floors – stability prevents squeaking
  • Renovation projects – lays over old floor adhesives

Residential Homes

Commercial Spaces

  • Offices – smart look improves perceptions
  • Retail stores – handles heavy foot traffic
  • Restaurants – easy to keep clean and sanitize
  • Hotels – affordable option for guest rooms

Commercial Spaces

Other Applications

  • Stairs – integrates beautifully with rooms above
  • Over concrete – no plywood subfloor required
  • Over radiant heating – rated for hot water piping up to 27°C
  • Bathrooms – waterproof engineered wood works where standard cannot

Engineered wood brings style and toughness to all living spaces. Consult an installer like Floorsanding.co.uk to pick the right type for your project and ensure proper installation. We offer sanding and refinishing down the track – engineered wood can be refinished at least once to reveal a like-new surface.

Get the warmth and beauty of real wood floors with the structural stability engineered options provide. Contact our UK flooring specialists to discuss the best choice for your home or office.

Conclusion

Engineered wood flooring offers the best attributes of solid wood alongside structural stability and affordability. Its cross-ply layers mean engineered flooring handles humidity fluctuations and underfloor heating better than solid wood alternatives. Easy installation, customization options and a real wood surface make engineered flooring a versatile choice for residential and commercial locations where beauty, performance and value matter.

Reach out to our team with any questions on selecting the right engineered flooring for your space and leveraging its advantages.