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Engineered Hardwood Floors Vs Traditional Hardwood and Laminate Floors

Engineered Hardwood Floors

When shopping for hardwood floors, there are many choices in plank width, wood species, colors and the way in which each of these hardwoods are manufactured. Making a choice of the perfect fit for your home can seem overwhelming. Simplify your decision with one of the most versatile types of Floor refinishing available today.

Engineered hardwood flooring can be installed in almost any room in your home, even those with a moisture exposure of up to 4%. Traditional hardwood is usually installed in moisture-free areas such as family rooms, dining rooms or living rooms. With engineered hardwood, one can now have wood floors installed in kitchens, master bathrooms, and guest bathrooms or in basements. One note however, would be to avoid installing any type of hardwood in a child’s bathroom, as there are ample instances for accidents near the toilet or overflow from the tub/shower.

Acting as a defense against the wood’s natural tendency to expand and contract under humid conditions, engineered hardwood is made of several layers of natural wood and glued together, for added strength. During the layering process, each ply of wood is set atop the other in the opposite direction. Each layer of engineered hardwood is a thin layer variation of natural hardwood or softer plywood incorporating the tongue and groove system. However the top layer, or veneer, is a thicker layer of the chosen wood species and will withstand the daily wear and tear associated with the room.

Most hardwoods today are delivered pre-finished. This added benefit of engineered hardwood allows the homeowner to begin using the room immediately after installation. During the finishing process, engineered hardwood is cured with a UV light. Factory finishes cured via ultra-violet light have a harder finish overall and the factory is able to prepare the wood with a greater number of coats to reduce damage for the long term.

One can still purchase unfinished hardwoods today. Though it is important to note that unfinished hardwoods require an exceptional amount of time to apply the required coats at the job-site which means the room will not be available for use until complete. Some additional detriments to installing unfinished hardwoods are: the vapors associated with finishing the floor on-site, the reduced number of coats being applied and the lack of ability to seal the finish with the UV light process.

Now that we have learned some of the benefits of engineered hardwood, let’s review the options available in the manufacturing process. Engineered hardwood is made in three variations.

1. Rotary Peeled Veneers: Processed in a conditioning vat and put into a large wood lathe.
2. Layers: Peeled off the log in long strips.
3. Grain: Visually weak
4. Structural integrity: Weak
5. Production Cost: Low Cost
6. Yield from log: Maximum

1. Sliced: Processed in a conditioning vat.
2. Layers: Sliced off the log as if it were cheese.
3. Grain: Visually good
4. Structural integrity: Better
5. Production Cost: Medium Cost
6. Yield from log: High

1. Sawed Face: Traditional process through a saw mill.
2. Layers: Graded, sorted then sawed into desired thickness
3. Grain: Visually best
4. Structural integrity:Best
5. Production Cost: Highest Cost
6. Yield from log: Low

Choices made from the information in the table will be determined by the usage of the room where the material will be installed. Cost is usually a factor in any home remodeling project and certain types of processed wood will fit better into the project budget than others. Any of the choices will still provide the finished project with a clean and durable product, which will last longer than most other types of flooring materials. In fact, engineered hardwood flooring can last between 40 and 60 years with the proper care and normal wear and tear.

Even if the floor begins to show some wear after heavy usage, engineered hardwood can be sanded between 3 and 5 times before it needs to be replaced altogether. However, because engineered hardwoods can be damaged easily in the sanding process, it is highly recommended that a hardwood floor sanding professional is obtained given the sanding process and the chemicals used in the refinishing process.

Installation of engineered hardwood can be handled in several ways. Planks may be stapled-down, glued-down or floated over different types of sub-floors. The most popular installations for concrete slabs are glue-down and floating, simply because it is not possible to staple or nail into concrete when installing engineered hardwood.

However, some types of engineered hardwood may also be floated over existing floors such as tile or vinyl flooring. Though it is important to check with the manufacturer specifications for this process and it is equally important if not more so that the current sub-floor is stable and well adhered to the joists to avoid shifting, breakage or heaving of the newly installed product.

One can chose from an ample variety of wood species. For nearly every species available in natural hardwood, there is an equivalent species in engineered hardwood such as oak, maple, or hickory and many others. There are also a variety of plank width options that can be mixed up for a custom installation or uniform as in a traditional installation. Consider the traditional linear look with 2 ΒΌ” width strip flooring, casual elegance with 3″ width plank flooring or a patterned look with random widths of 3″, 5″ & 7″.