Everything you ever wanted to know about engineered flooring

7 Min.

At this time of year, the benefits of radiant floor heat truly make themselves apparent. It is also the time of year that we talk about engineered flooring options. Engineered floors can get a bad rap, mostly due to stereotypes, but also because of differences in the manufacturing process. The JF  blog will guide you to the right floor for you – solid wood or engineered wood.

What’s the difference

Solid wood flooring is one plank of wood the full way through while engineered wood flooring is a veneer layer of the solid wood bonded to a plywood base. Not to be confused with laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is an image of wood fused to fiberboard wood and is a poor substitute for real wood.

Is Engineered Wood ‘Real Wood’

It sure is. The wear layer is made from solid wood, in the species that you wish – to create the floor that you want. The next eight layers are a plywood core – also real wood.

How do I know if it’s high quality

The thickness of the wear layer and the number of layers of plywood determine the quality of an engineered wood product. Look for a wear layer that is between 4mm – 7mm, with 8 layers of high-quality FSC certified plywood.

What about the formaldehyde

Formaldehyde, a colorless, strong-smelling chemical, is often used because it is inexpensive. However, the EPA recognizes it can be harmful to one’s health if it emits too much resin. This issue has appeared in the media quite frequently since 2014 when a lawsuit filed against Lumber Liquidators for their use of high-emitting formaldehyde in their laminate flooring brought awareness to this factor. Look for engineered wood flooring that uses formaldehyde-free sub straight material. One that follows the Code of Regulations and is tested routinely to ensure it won’t emit harmful or dangerous chemicals.

What if I want to refinish my floors

A high quality engineered wood will be able to be sanded and refinished as many times as a solid wood floor, depending on the thickness of the wear layer. Solid wood floors typically have a 6-7mm wear layer, remember to look for at least 4-7mm of wear layer in your engineered flooring.

Do I need engineered wood

There are certain circumstances where choosing engineered flooring is the way to go:

Below-grade: Any living space that is four inches below ground level, such as basements or split-level living rooms. For all below-grade installations or on-grade levels with no basement, we recommend that you install an engineered floor.

An area that is susceptible to moisture or extra humidity. Engineered wood flooring can withstand changes in temperature or moisture that fall outside of the normal levels adequate for solid wood flooring. An engineered floor is also far more resistant to moisture and temperature changes caused by the climate or the subfloor material.

Subfloor type. Engineered flooring is the right choice for installation over concrete subfloors, as well as your standard OSB, plywood or other wood-based subfloors. A solid floor is not recommended for installation directly over concrete.

Radiant Heat. Although either solid or engineered flooring can be successfully installed over radiant heat, we often recommend our customers to purchase engineered flooring for this task. It’s always better to give yourself the added versatility and stability gained from the plywood core.

Need more info? Check it out in pictogram form, and if you have any further questions please give us a call or stop by our showroom at the Boston Design Center, where our floor is engineered.




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