It is a firmly held belief that hardwood floors are the ultimate in class and sophistication. Regardless of the type of hardwood used, whether it is ash, oak or maple, wood floors have always maintained their timelessness and adapted to the changing decors. While traditional hardwood floors are superior natural floorings, they have certain limiting factors which do not allow their installation in all the areas of the house, and there are certain regions of the world where such floors are considered thoroughly impractical. Their higher cost of procurement and installation are some other prohibiting factors which have given rise to cheaper options like laminates and vinyl, which are wood look-alikes but made of resins and plastics.
Engineered wood is a relatively newer option which is wood yet does not have the disadvantages of hardwood. It has gained popularity as a worthy alternative to hardwood floors and in the last few years more and more owners have chosen engineered wood floors to make their homes beautiful. To know why engineered wood is an interesting choice, we will first have to know what engineered wood is made of.
Engineered wood flooring is made up of layers of softwood, fibre boards, and derivatives of wood. The layers could vary from 3 to 12 and these layers are joined together with the help of industrial adhesives to make the final product strong and firm. The layers are usually fused together at right angles to provide better stability and resistance. But what makes the engineered wood a worthy competitor to hardwood is the fact that the top most layer here is real hardwood. Once installed, the floor would look like hardwood floor with none the wiser.
Since there are various layers of softwood or derivatives under the hardwood veneer, the engineered wood is resistant to changes caused in hardwood due to moisture. The layer stacking prevents individual layers from contracting or expanding due to moist conditions. This makes the engineered wood more stable and versatile. It can be used in areas like basements and bathrooms where moisture is a deterrent for hardwood flooring.
Depending on the thickness of the hardwood veneer, the engineered floor can be sanded down a few times just like hardwood floor. The brands of engineered wood which have a very thin veneer cannot be sanded but can be polished and refurbished. The engineered wood is heat resistant because it is formed by heat fusing so it is ideal for installation in areas on or near radiant heating systems.
Unlike the hardwood floors, engineered floors do not need a sub-floor for installation. They can be installed on any surface; they can be nailed, stapled or glued to surfaces like concrete and stone and can also be installed in floating patterns, that is, without any base surface at all. It is possible because engineered floor boards come in the traditional tongue and groove patterns which can be clipped together to form a level surface all on its own.
One of the most important reasons why engineered wood is preferred these days is that it is available in as many wood finishes as hardwood comes in. Discerning patrons can choose from any of the domestic or exotic woods like cherry, teak, alder, among others. With the top layer being the hardwood, the upkeep and maintenance of engineered wood flooring is just like that of hardwood flooring. It can be stained with various shades to suit the aesthetics, can be finished and maintained like hardwood floors.
Another advantage of choosing engineered wood is that it is available in prices ranging from low to high so it is affordable for almost everyone. The prices vary depending on the hardwood chosen for the veneer and the thickness of the veneer. The more exotic the wood and the thicker the veneer, more expensive will be the price per square foot. The engineered wood has a life varying between 20 to 100 years and its longevity also determines its price.
Though installation costs of engineered wood floors may be lower when compared to hardwood floors, one has to bear in mind that the life of the standard engineered wood is also lower. While buying engineered wood for your home, make sure that the core layers are not made of very cheap material because that can seriously shorten the lifespan of your floor. If one is going for exotic wood finishes, then cost advantage may not be much since standard hardwood floors may cost almost the same as exotic engineered wood floors. Too thin veneers may shorten the lifespan of the flooring because they cannot be sanded or refinished.
Since engineered wood is processed wood, it has to be cared for with proper polishing and staining. Unlike the hardwood, it cannot take all types of stains and to improve the lifetime of such flooring only pre-approved grades of polish should be used. It is definitely easier to install when compared to hardwood but care should be taken while installation so that its life can be enhanced.