An engineered wood floor, often referred to as an engineered hardwood floor, is made of several layers of wood glued together with an upper outside layer of hardwood to keep up appearances. The inner layers can be composed of hardwoods, plywood, or high density fiber (HDF). Different types of engineered wood flooring can have varying numbers of layers depending on the type and brand. The outside showing layer can be about any type of hardwood a consumer could desire.
There are several advantages to having engineered wood flooring. The most prominent are that they do not warp and are better suited to adverse conditions. Engineered wood floors overcome common warping, cupping, swelling, and splitting apart problems that plague normal hardwood floors.
With engineered wood flooring materials, you will benefit from all of the natural beauty of a genuine hardwood floor, without all the headaches. Also, engineered wood floors can be installed in moist areas where all natural wood can not survive.
Manufacturing of Engineered Wood Flooring
There are two most common types of manufacturing of engineered wood floors. The main difference is in how the show layer of hardwood is cut from the logs. The typical engineered hardwood floor will have a show layer of natural veneer hardwood that is either a sliced cut or a rotary cut layer of hardwood.
• Sliced cut – Sliced cut veneer is sawn from the log much like regular boards and shows a much truer, finer grain. This is more expensive and allows for a higher quality, thicker hardwood surface that will withstand the most wear. The thickness of the veneer layer can vary.
• Rotary cut – Rotary cut veneer is peeled or cut from the logs using a huge lathe that cuts long, wide pieces of hardwood from the log in a circular motion. This method provides for a much more wild grain pattern that is less natural looking and less desired by home owners. The veneer layer is normally thinner, wears faster and is less expensive than sliced cut veneers.
Engineered wood flooring is not a difficult DIY project. The boards come in different widths and lengths, so you will need to plan your floor according to the size of the material you choose to use. Typically, the boards are three to five inches wide and up to 48 inches long. The flooring can be easily installed over most ceramic tile, concrete slabs and vinyl flooring.
You should make sure the surface you are installing the floor on is flat, well secured, wax and glaze free and it should be roughened up so the adhesive will work better. Most engineered wood flooring is meant to be glued down, but some may also be stapled. The typical installation involves preparing the surface, cutting the boards to size when necessary and gluing them in place.
Where to use Engineered Wood
Engineered wood floors can be installed in many places that regular hardwood flooring can not survive. It can be safely installed in most basements as long as the moisture content is below 4% when installing on a concrete slab.
Engineered wood floors are also more suitable for installing in tropical regions of the country where moisture and heat conditions do not allow for all natural hardwood floors. Engineered wood flooring can be installed on any grade level.
Most engineered wood floors never need to be refinished. If you do decide that your floor could use a refinishing, use caution. You need to be aware of the thickness of the veneer show hardwood before you consider sanding. A typical professional sanding job will remove about 1/32 of an inch of wood from the surface of the floor.
If you have a veneer that is 2mm thick, you could sand it once or maybe twice. If it is not at least that thick, it is not recommended that you sand it. Typically the sliced cut variety of engineered flooring is more likely to survive a refinishing project than the rotary cut variety.
Photo by marya, Creative Commons Attribution License