Engineered Hardwood Flooring

The best choice for basements and over concrete

In appearance, engineered hardwoods look the same as solid hardwoods. Below the surface, it's a different story.

Engineered hardwood floors are composed of three to seven layers cross stacked then glued and laminated under high pressure and heat to create a flooring material that is impervious to humidity. As a result engineered floors are well suited to almost every room in the house including kitchens and dry basements.

Engineered hardwoods are available as strips and planks. Longstrip flooring is composed of thin boards spliced together to form longer and wider planks. Parquet flooring is available as tiles that have been glued together in some type of geometric design. Most designed for tongue and groove installation.

Choosing an engineered wood floor

Selecting an engineered wood floor is similar to selecting a hardwood floor. The two primary considerations for most homeowners are cost and appearance. Engineered hardwood floors run about the same range as hardwoods, so a cost savings between solid and engineered hardwoods is hard to realize. Appearance is nearly identical to solid hardwood.

With engineered hardwood flooring, the determining factors are more likely to be location or the type of installation. It's a better choice for installation over concrete slab construction or finishing a basement. For rooms that are likely to be higher humidity such as kitchens, it's also likely to be the more practical choice. For remodeling projects where flooring is to be installed over existing flooring, the less height added to the floor, the better and engineered hardwoods fit the bill better than solid wood.

The floors range from being composed of layers of hardwoods around a hardwood core to hardwoods around a high density fiberboard (HDF) core. If sustainability and green building are considerations, some of the newer engineered boards are being manufactured around a high-density wheat board core.

Quality is determined by the thickness of the boards and particularly the veneer. The thicker the top veneer, the more likely it can be refinished if needed. Thickness ranges from 3/8 inch to 5/8 inch thick. Another factor in the quality is the type and thickness of the finish on top of the veneer.

Always purchase extra boards for repairs.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of an engineered hardwood floor include being able to use your flooring throughout your home on all levels without the constraints imposed by hardwoods. With a range of colors, engineered hardwoods provide the same design flexibility and style as solid hardwoods.

Because engineered hardwoods are created in layers that alternate lengthwise with crosswise grain, they are considered dimensionally stable. In other words, the boards are resistant to the type of seasonal contraction and expansion seen in solid hardwoods. As hardwoods age, they shrink slightly; engineered hardwood boards won't. They are also very strong and add structural integrity to any installation. Because of the moisture tolerance, engineered hardwoods can also be used with radiant flooring.

Engineered floors are prefinished often with extremely durable finishes including UV-cured polyurethane and aluminum oxide for extra wearability. Many are guaranteed for 25 years or more. Using a prefinished floor also means that there is much less mess and it takes less time to install.

Where hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished many times, engineered floors may be refinished only once or twice. The manufacturers provide the number, which varies depending on the thickness of the top veneer and recommend that refinishing be done by a professional.

Other benefits include the reduction of allergens and dust which enhances indoor air quality.

Engineered flooring less environmentally friendly than sustainably harvested wood flooring simply because it is more highly processed.

Finally, wood floors add value to the home in which they are installed. It's arguable whether engineered wood floors carry the cachet of solid wood floors as far as resale value.

Installing engineered flooring

Depending on the flooring selected, engineered flooring can be stapled, glued, or floated over existing floors including concrete, including at below grade level. Some engineered hardwoods use a "click" installation method common to laminates.

Because of the wide range of products and the possibilities for various installations, read the manufacturers recommendations carefully to plan an installation that is fully warranted.

Maintaining engineered flooring

Keeping up with your hardwood flooring is pretty easy.


To install your new floor, hire a qualified, professional flooring installer through ContractorNexus now.

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