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Introduction to Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered timber flooring explained

We are frequently asked what the term “engineered wood flooring” means, so this short article will help you understand the basics and the main differences between engineered and solid wood flooring.

Engineered wood simply means multi-layered flooring. An engineered board construction is made up of a solid timber top surface (known as the lamella or wear-layer) and ply or soft wood layered in opposing directions forming the base and core of the material to add dimensional stability. In contrast to solid wood flooring, which is one piece of solid wood from top to bottom, all engineered floors use the cross-lamination principle to reduce movement due to changes in temperature and humidity.

Advantages of Engineered Wood Flooring

Stability & Durability

The main advantage of engineered wood flooring is its stability. Engineered wood flooring boards are much less likely to move, warp, or bow over time, and the increased stability means that the flooring can often be installed as a ‘floated floor’ rather than glued down. The vast majority of them can also be used over underfloor heating, which a solid wood floor cannot.

Sustainable Choice

Engineered wood flooring is a sustainable option. When compared to solid wood flooring, it makes better use of limited hardwood species by using faster growing and more abundant species to form the core and base of the product, without sacrificing the floor’s longevity.

Long Lasting

Engineered wood flooring will last a long time if properly cared for and maintained with the right products. Engineered flooring ages beautifully over time, but it can be sanded and refinished if necessary, which is one of the remarkable and unique characteristics of a timber floor. You may decide to refinish the floor after many years of use, or you may choose to change the colour or sheen to match new décor. Every engineered flooring construction (except our Parky Veneer flooring collection) has a hardwood top layer that can be re-sanded multiple times. A 14mm thick 3-layer board is likely to be sanded and refinished twice in its lifetime, whereas a 2-layer product with a plywood core can typically be sanded at least three times, with some even boasting a wear-layer substantial enough for re-sanding up to five times. However, thanks to modern-day finishing techniques used by European mills, timber floors have proven in many residential homes to be durable enough to last for many years with simple maintenance and without ever needing to be sanded down.

Why is an engineered wood floor so stable?

Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture. This means wood can swell or shrink when the surrounding humidity changes, whether due to changes in the climate or the use of heating or air conditioning. This can cause the planks to cup or warp, or gaps to appear between them.

The top layer, known as the wear layer or lamella, is usually a hardwood and most often it is oak. The base layers are usually softwood or a multi-layered plywood, although occasionally they may even be made with more layers of hardwood. All the layers are bonded together so that the grain of each one runs perpendicularly to that of the layer on either side, making it virtually impossible for the wood to swell or shrink.

Are there other advantages to engineered wood flooring?

Essentially engineered timber offers you a lot more choice.

Because it is so stable engineered wood planks and blocks can usually be fitted over underfloor heating. They are now available in much larger sizes, so those massive wide and long planks you see are a direct result of engineering traditional wood planks.

Because most engineered wood products are pre-finished, you can see how your floor will look before it is installed. And, with so many wonderful finishes now available, you’ll have far more options than before, without having to resort to tropical hardwoods. In addition to all of the standard installation methods, some engineered wood planks have a click fit system to provide an especially simple option.

Last but not least, engineered wood is more tree-friendly than solid wood because it uses fewer slow-growing hardwoods. Using more wood is good for the environment in general because it encourages forest harvesting and replanting, but fast-growing softwoods provide a faster turnover.

What are the alternatives to engineered wood flooring?

Engineered wood flooring is a great alternative to solid wood flooring, but it isn’t always the cheapest option. If you want the look and feel of real wood in a high-quality floor but are on a budget, a veneer may be the best option. A veneer is made up of a very thin layer of real wood bonded to a core of a composite wood product such as fibreboard.

VidaSpace’s preferred veneer flooring collection, Parky, exhibits all of the distinct characteristics of solid or engineered wood while also being tough and durable, and is the European market leader in wood veneer flooring.

Laminate flooring is another option for engineered wood. This is a multi-layered synthetic product that has been laminated together. It uses a photographic process under a clear protective layer to simulate wood. VidaSpace does not sell laminate flooring, but you should be able to find a laminate option off the shelf at your local flooring shop.

In short, engineered wood flooring is an excellent alternative to solid wood flooring, offering a durable surface without sacrificing beauty. Flooring is available in a wide range of finishes, colours, and designs, making it suitable for any interior.

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