Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge
A distinctive type of flooring, engineered hard wood floors will easily seduce you with the different types (oak, teak, mahogany, wenge) and finishes (varnished, oiled, tinted, aged) it offers and the fact that it can be installed in a floating configuration. Composed of three layers, which are a supporting layer, a core and a 2 to 6 mm wear layer, this hardwood floor can easily be adapted and installed into any room of the house.
- Wood species
- Wear layer
What is engineered hardwood flooring?
There are two types of real hardwood floors: naturalhardwood floors and engineered hardwood floors. These are the only two products which have earned the right to be referred to as "hardwood"! Any other type of floor covering is simply just an imitation. That is because, in order to be classified as hardwood floors, a floor must include a layer of noble wood equal to or greater than 2.5 mm. Any thinner, and beware of using the term hardwood!
While engineered floors sound great, it will ultimately depend on the type. Some vareities are far worse in quality than natural hardwood floors in terms of strength or finishes.
Engineered hardwood floors are composed of3 elements. The core is made of HDF (High Density Fiber) and goes in the middle, in between the upper layer of the plank, referred to as the wear layer, composed of 2.5 mm thick noble wood and a supporting layer (the underside). The three components are binded together at the sawmill to result in an unbeatable combination.
How to choose your engineered hardwood flooring?
Just like any natural hardwood floor, you choose the species! There are many species of wood available in the form of engineered wood. The most common type is oak, but you can also find more exotic species offered, including wenge, mohagony andteak, to name a few. It just depends on what you want, although it's important to remember that exotic species will significantly change over time! It really depends on the actual wood species, as some are more than others.
Engineered hardwood floors have a 2.5 mm (minimum) to 6 mm (semi natural hardwood) top layer. This layer, commonly referred to as a wear layer, is what determines the engineered floor's resistance. While it depends on the hardness of the chosen species ofwood, the general rule is that, the thicker the wear layer is, the more impact resistant the floor will be. Engineered floors with a wear layer of 3.2/3.5 mm are normally suitable for any room of the house.
Engineered flooring is usually finished in the factory and purchased ready to install. They are available with varnish or oil, and may or may not be tinted, brushed, aged or saw-cut. There are a multitude of configurations possible, the choice of which is crucial. Engineered floors are also beveled on 2 or 4 sides.
Engineered hardwood floors are generally sold in the form of sections, with several planks pre-set on along the width of a single plank or as single planks. The technology used to create engineered flooring makes it possible to manufacture a wide surface area, while limiting its thickness to 14/15 mm. The proof is in the fact that engineered flooring is widely available in all kinds of different widths, from small 90 mm surfaces, to larger 300 mm sections. The most common width for single planks is 180/190 mm, and they are fairly long (1800/2000 mm).
Installing an engineered hardwood floor
We now come to the main difference between engineered and natural hardwood floors. The latter has slowly become more popular than its predecessor, in part because of its easier installation. These types of floors are installated in what is referred to as a "floating configuration", implying that the floor is not anchored to the dwelling's support. Very similar to laminate flooring, engineered wood only requires a suitable underlay upon which to lay. Once in place, it is secured by simply fitting the slats into one another. When you've completed the first row, use what's left of the section to start the next one.
What makes engineered hardwood floors often so easy to install is their "click" fixing systems, which almost all models have. It's exactly the same "groove and tongue" mechanism that natural hardwood floors use, but which is installed the same way on the underlay, to achieve the floating effect. Be careful however, while the installation may seem far easier than that of natural hardwood floors, there are still strict rules that must nevertheless be respected! Despite all its advantages, engineered flooring is still a product that is composed of a natural element, which can shift and change over time. The possibility of the woodexpanding in and around the door sill cannot unfortunately not be ruled out. To avoid this, there are some basic rules that dictate the humidity level and air temperature that is most ideal for your hardwood floor, so as to better adapat it to whatever room you choose.
The 4 advantages of engineered hardwood floors
1. Increased stability
Because of its composition, engineered floors are more stable than their older sibling, natural hardwood floors, so they tend to shift significantly less. That being said, it's important that you follow the rules in terms of humidity and temperature to achieve this.
2. Adaptable in any room
Thanks to it's thick wear layer, engineered flooring can be installed anywhere in the house. This implies, of course, that the floors will be properly maintained, depending on its use. A bedroom, where socks are often worn, and a living room, where shoes are often accessible, require two different types of maintenance! The only exception to the rool is the bathroom, in which hardwood floors should generally be avoid, unless it's an exotic species with increased water resistance.
3. Available as floating flooring
Installing engineered hardwood floors is do-able for even any good handyman, and can be done simply and efficiently if the basic rules are followed. That starts with reading the instruction manual!
4. Easy renovation
Engineered flooring is renovated in exactly the same way as a natural hardwood floor is, which is an undeniable advantage. If it is too damaged or scratched, it can be sanded to remove the finish. Next, simply re-apply the desired finish, making sure never to leave it bare. The floor can even change its look entirely, by applying a new shade, from a natural oak honey to an charcoal gray for example. There are a variety of wood finish products that are designed for this exact purpose!
Just a quick side note, every time that a floor is completely sanded, 1 mm of wood is removed! That's why the floor should only be sanded once every ten years on average. On the bright side, that implies that your floors, even if they are engineered, will last at least that long, which is a pretty good start!
Additional information on floor coverings and guides to help you achieve your ideal floor can be found below:
- How to choose your floors?
- How to choose your hardwood floors?
- How to choose your interior floor tile?
- How to choose your outdoor floor tile?
- How to choose your door sill?
- How to choose your sealing products for walls and floors?
- How to install floating flooring?
- How to choose your wood care products?
Also, to be sure you have the right tools:
- How to choose your sander?
- How to choose your sand and abrasive paper?
- How to choose your tape measure?
- How to choose your finishing tools?
- How to choose your laser level?
- How to choose your spirit level?
And to work safely:
Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge, 61 guides
When I was young, I was already working in the family garden. Perhaps that is where my interest in plants and gardening came from. So, it was logical for me to study both plant biology and agronomy. At the request of various publishers I have, over twenty-five years, written many books on the subject of plants and mushrooms (a subject that is close to my heart).They were mostly identification guides at first, but shortly after they were about gardening, thus renewing the first passion of my childhood. I have also regularly collaborated with several magazines specializing in the field of gardening or more generally in nature. There is no gardener without a garden, I have cultivated mine in a small corner of Cambridge for the last thirty years and this is where I put into practice the methods of cultivation that will I advise you in as well.