Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Myth or Fact

1) Engineered Hardwood Flooring is Laminate Flooring - MYTH

Laminate flooring is manufactured using a synthetic top layer (similar to plastic) less than 1mm thick. This top layer is made to resemble real wood and may have a flat or textured surface. Although it resembles real wood, the top layer cannot be sanded or repaired.

Engineered hardwood flooring is manufactured with a real hardwood top layer. The top hardwood layer can range from a veneer of 0.6mm thick, which cannot be sanded, up to 5mm thick that can be sanded and refinished 5 to 8 times. The top hardwood layer can be anything from Oak or Maple, to exotic woods like Wenge, Morado or Doussie Africa. And because the product is made using a thinner top layer, one is able to purchase the rare exotic hardwoods for less then the equivalent solid wood products.

2) Glue-Down Engineered Hardwood is more stable than Floating or Solid Hardwood Flooring - FACT

Glue-down engineered hardwood is more stable than floating or solid hardwood flooring because of its structure and installation method. Glue-down hardwood uses a multilayer plywood backing to stabilize the top layer of real hardwood. The most stable plywood supports are made with 100% marine grade birch. The marine birch plywood has superior mechanical properties then regular fir or poplar plywood.

The multiple layers of the backing are cross plied to offset the expansion and contraction of the top layer caused by changes in humidity. Floating and solid hardwood floors do not have the same stabilizing support structure. Additionally, glue-down engineered hardwood floors are more stable because they are glued directly to the sub-floor. This also limits the expansion and contraction of each strip and helps keeps the floor surface flat.

3) Engineered hardwood floors have a short life span - MYTH

High quality engineered hardwood floors can last up to 100 years. Glue-down engineered floors have a top hardwood layer between 3mm – 5mm. The best glue-down hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished 5 to 8 times extending their useable life to approximately 100 years. The top wood layer for floating floors usually ranges between 0.6mm to 3.5 mm. Products that use less than 2 mm of hardwood typically cannot be sanded and refinished and may last approximately 10 to 15 years. Floating floors with a wood layer of 2mm or more can usually be sanded 1 to 2 times for a useable life of up to 25 years.

4) Engineered hardwood floors are only good for condominiums and basements - MYTH

Although engineered hardwood floors are ideal for the concrete sub-floors found in condominiums and basements, they are great for almost any residential application and even many commercial settings as well. In particular, glue-down engineered floors are great because they are more stable than solid wood floors and last at least as long. Glue-down floors are quiet because no nails or staples are used during installation. With solid hardwood, as the boards expand and contract over time they tend to loosen the nails slightly causing squeaking.

Thanks to the growth of engineered hardwood over the past 10 years, there are now a wide variety of finishes, widths and thicknesses available. The best engineered glue-down hardwood floors even come with a square edge mill for a virtually flat surface with an ultra clean appearance.

5) Engineered Hardwood Floors are ideal for installation over radiant heat systems - FACT

The two layer technology and increased stability of engineered glue-down hardwood floors makes them the ideal choice for use over radiant heat systems. These products can be glued directly over the gypsum or other type of over pour used to encase the radiant heat tubing. This allows for a more efficient heat transfer. The best engineered glue-down hardwoods like Listone Giordano are actually designed to work with the radiant heat systems and have the lowest R values for wood floors. The stabilizing backing of multiple layers of plywood also helps to prevent the floors from undergoing excessive expansion and contraction caused by the heat transmission. Therefore, these floors should remain flat and tight over time.

Floating hardwood floors are also suitable for installation over radiant heating. These floors allow for expansion and contraction because they float. Furthermore, because they do not require a plywood sub-floor, they also allow for good heat transmission.

6) Engineered Hardwood Floors are less expensive then solid wood floors - MYTH

Engineered wood floors range in price from approximately $4 per square foot to as much as $30 per square foot.

Floating wood floors are relatively less expensive than glue-down products. The top layer of hardwood is typically thinner then with glue-down products so there is a cost savings. As well, the material for the support layer is often less costly and easier to produce so the material and production costs are lower.

For glue-down products, the higher cost results from a more complex production process and the use of different materials to create each strip. Among other variables, pricing depends on the type of hardwood, the size of the boards, the thickness of the hardwood wear layer and the quality of the product and production process. Dollar for dollar, engineered hardwood floors are worth the cost.

This article was provided by European Hardwood Flooring. Visit them online at www.europeanflooring.ca , or call them at (416) 967-9200.

Article Author

European Hardwood Flooring Centre Ltd. is your specialist for engineered hardwood and laminate flooring. Whether you need flooring for a new custom home, a renovation, a condominium or commercial property, we offer a variety of flooring options to meet your needs. If you need hardwood or laminate flooring for installation over radiant in-floor heating or for your basement, we can help. We are the exclusive Toronto retailer of Listone Giordano, the world renowned Italian engineered hardwood flooring line. We also have a variety of floating engineered hardwood products from French manufacturer, Parqueterie Berrichonne, and Belgian company, Flexura. If you need laminates we sell numerous products from Berry Floor, including laminate tiles, herringbone planks and commercially rated lines.

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