Engineered wood flooring is made up by bonding multiple layers of wood together and finished with a solid wood top layer, or wear layer. It is one of the most common flooring types used today and is popular because of its ability to withstand fluctuations in temperature and humidity, meaning that it can be installed with under floor heating, and in areas such as kitchens and conservatories. Engineered wood flooring is also being used more frequently because it does not need fixing down like solid wood flooring; it can be floated (loose laid) over an underlay.
How is engineered wood flooring made?
Multiple layers of wood are bonded together with the chosen species of wood, for example, Oak or Walnut, on top (wear layer) and the base layer underneath. The wear layer must be thicker than 2mm otherwise it is classed as veneered wood flooring, rather than engineered. The base layer, which cannot be seen once the flooring is installed, is usually either a plywood base or a 3-ply block construction. A plywood base is a layer of plywood glued to the bottom of the wear layer. Alternatively, a 3-ply block construction has a middle layer, usually made from Eucalyptus or Hevea, which is glued at 90 degrees to the grain of the wear layer. It then has a base of plywood.
Engineered wood flooring is available in a variety of different wood species, finishes and board sizes. It usually comes in fixed lengths but is available in different thicknesses, ranging from 12.5mm to 22mm, with either a tongue and groove or click fitting system. It can be prefinished or unfinished. A prefinished floor is already oiled or lacquered, and is available in a variety of different stains and finishes. An unfinished floor is raw material, and will need to be sanded and sealed with either oil or a lacquer. It can also be stained to individual colour preference.
Once engineered wood flooring is laid, it would be almost impossible to tell the difference between solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring by sight alone. Engineered wood flooring should not be mistaken for laminate flooring, which is, essentially, a picture of wooden flooring laminated onto high density fibreboard (HDF), not wood.
Where can engineered wood flooring be used?
Engineered wood flooring is made up of multiple layers, so the planks will not expand and contract as much as solid wood flooring planks. This means that they can withstand significant temperature and humidity fluctuations and can be used:
• with under floor heating
• in kitchens
• in conservatories
• in rooms with large amounts of glazing
It is not recommended that any wood flooring is installed in areas with excess moisture, for example, bathrooms.
How can engineered wood flooring be installed?
Engineered wood flooring planks are dimensionally stable (because they are made up of multiple layers) so do not need fixing in place. This means that they can be loose laid over an underlay, a technique also known as a ‘floating floor’. To do this, the planks would be clicked or glued together. e
What are the benefits of engineered wood flooring?
• More cost effective than solid wood flooring
• Quick and easy to install
• Does not need fixing in position – can be floated / loose laid
• Can be used with underlay (including soundproofing underlay and thermal barriers)
• Can be used with under floor heating
• Can be installed in areas where temperature and humidity fluctuates
• Available in a variety of species of wood and finishes
• Available in a variety of thicknesses