Here at Martin Allen, we’re all about finding the best wood flooring solutions for our clients. Whether it’s a small hallway renovation or a large-scale commercial venture, our wood flooring experts and designers treat every project with the utmost care and dedication.
We want our clients to make well-informed and well thought out decisions when investing in something as valuable and as important as wood flooring is. We also believe that the only way to do that is to give our clients a professional insight into all the wood flooring options they can get at Martin Allen.
Some of the most frequently asked questions in our industry revolve around engineered wood flooring. Although it’s not by any means a new product, it started gaining immense popularity in the past couple of years.
But, what is engineered wood and how is it different from traditional hardwood flooring? What kinds of benefits come with the increased price tag? Is engineered wood the future of timber flooring, or just another quick fad in interior design?
If you’ve ever wondered this yourself, continue reading as we answer these, and many other similar questions, and shed some light on this remarkable material.
What is engineered wood?
Engineered wood is a composite material, meaning it consists two or more constituent materials with different properties. Unlike laminate and vinyl flooring, engineered wood is made from real, natural wood.
Engineered wood is composed of multiple layers of wood, with the wood’s natural grain and colour visible on the topmost layer – the wear layer.
Planks made from this type of composite material have a much more increased stability and resistance than traditional hardwood planks. This is because every layer of an engineered wood plank is positioned at a 90° angle to the layer above it.
Unlike laminate, which has an image of hardwood printed on top of it, and vinyl, which achieves a wood look by moulding and printing plastic, engineered wood almost entirely consists of solid, hardwood planks.
Except for a few subtypes, such as veneer and acrylic impregnated flooring, engineered wood floors do not use rotary peeled veneer, high-density fiberboard, or plastic in their construction.
Benefits of engineered wood flooring
Now that we’ve got over the basics of engineered wood, you might be wondering how exactly do those things make it better than the more traditional solid wood floors?
The benefits are many, and we’ve tried to cover most of them in the following list.
The ingenious engineering that went into producing engineered wood makes it much more durable than solid wood.
Layers of wood planks or plywood are stacked together in a perpendicular fashion, which increases the strength of the plank. A strong, sturdy plank can withstand much more foot traffic without experiencing any damage to its surface, making it suitable for both residential and high influx commercial areas.
While engineered wood and composite wood are interchangeable terms, the former is most commonly used to refer to indoor, while the latter is used for outdoor wood flooring.
Composite wood can be finished with a UV protectant, making it ideal for use in outdoor decking.
Water and moisture resistant
As any wood flooring expert will say to you – every type of wood floor is water resistant if you install it right.
Want a dark mahogany floor in your bathroom? Certainly doable if you’re willing to break the bank for it.
The thing with engineered wood is that the planks come already water and moisture resistant, so there’s no need for any more work after installation. Engineered wood planks won’t absorb moisture and thus cannot be structurally damaged by humidity.
Engineered wood floors can also be installed in areas that need water resistance such as bathrooms, kitchens, washrooms, toilets, etc.
If you are toying with the thought of bathroom wooden flooring, then read our post Bathroom Wooden Flooring. A No Go?
Gone is the days of dull ceramic or concrete basement floors because installing engineered hardwood flooring in a cellar is not only doable but also recommended. Engineered wood adds style and luxury to an otherwise underused space, make it look and feel warmer and easier to clean and maintain.
Ability to be refinished
The reason why people have always gone for solid wood floors as their preferred “forever” wood flooring solution comes down to the fact that solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished as many times as necessary.
While composite materials are much sturdier and durable, once their topmost layer is damaged, there’s no way of fixing it.
However, engineered wood shares many of the properties solid wood has, one of them is the ability to be refinished.
As engineered wood is composed of layers of solid wood, with the wear layer of the plank being the thickest one, it can be resanded to remove any surface damage. And although there’s a limited number of times that the wear layer can be sanded, it’s still pretty close to how many layers can be stripped from a solid wood board.
Resanding an engineered wood plank is no different from resanding solid wood, only slightly reducing the thickness of the plank’s top layer. Sanding the wear layer down reveals the wood’s natural grain, revives its colour and gives it a fresh look.
The sanded plank can then be refinished to your liking. There’s no limitation to what kind of finish you can choose, both of colour and the appearance of the coating.
Considering the fact that some amount of surface damage is imminent, the need to refinish an engineered wood floor can prove to be a great reason to update your interior design.
Underfloor heating friendly
Heated floors have long been a staple of luxurious interiors. As solid wood floors cannot be installed over underfloor radiant heating, the flooring solutions were limited to a handful of rather pricey materials.
Engineered wood, thanks to its incredible heat resistance, is perfect for installing over underfloor heating systems.
Engineered wood planks won’t bend, crack or gap when subjected to constant heat, and can be fitted even in large, open-space areas without fear that their stability will be compromised.
The ease with which the engineered wood is installed and dismantled is one of its biggest benefits, especially when combined with underfloor radiant heating. As reliable as those systems are, they will eventually need maintenance, which is made easy when dealing with engineered wood flooring.
Complete customizability of the colour and design
Being able to choose the colour and the finish is one of the reasons people always seem to turn to solid wood.
However, as versatile as solid wood can be, nothing beats a number of options that come with engineered wood. Customers can choose a variety of different finishes, colours and grain patterns for their engineered planks – and there are a few more options to consider than with traditional solid wood.
The wear layer of an engineered plank is a thin slice of hardwood with the visible grain and colour. But, a wear layer requires a significantly thinner cut from the body of the tree than a solid wood plank does, making luxurious hardwoods much more affordable.
Always wanted your home to breathe with the extravagance that comes with rare, luxurious hardwood floors? With engineered wood planks you can have exotic woods such as mahogany and walnut at the tip of your toes for just a fraction of the price of solid wood floors.
A wider variety of shapes and sizes
Solid wood flooring can be used and abused to fit even the wildest interior design ideas, but when it comes to the size of the planks – that’s a wall you’ll eventually go to hit.
Due to the wood’s tendency to gape and cup, the maximum width and length that can be achieved with solid wood planks are 2100x127mm. Anything larger than that will compromise the floor’s stability and make it prone to cracking and crowning.
As engineered wood planks don’t need to be comprised of a single cut of timber, there’s a much more comprehensive variety of plank sizes to choose from.
With the demand for engineered hardwood floors steadily increasing, there are more and more styles to choose from. Engineered wood planks are now specially made to be laid in all kinds of patterns – from classic herringbone and chevron to a more luxurious French and Versailles parquet.
Engineered wood planks are fitted with joints during the manufacturing process, and are installed by interlocking them over a solid surface.
Engineered wood also doesn’t require a specific subfloor to be installed, and are usually laid on a floating construction which keeps them a few centimetres above the original floor level.
Even the floating structure the planks are often installed on requires little time to construct.
However, as easy as it sounds, correctly installing engineered wood floors requires a particular expertise that comes with age and experience. The installation process might not take long, but you definitely shouldn’t take it on as a weekend project.
Save yourself the stress of a failed DIY project and gives us a call at Martin Allen Flooring & French Polishing and a skilled and experienced wood flooring expert will visit you and provide a free on-site quotation for wood flooring services.
We’ve seen a lot of our clients mistake the term sustainability of the word natural.
Sustainability implies renewability and harmony with the organic processes that happen in nature. Natural means organic and unrefined, which doesn’t always mean sustainable.
Solid wood floors are made by cutting down trees and processing timber to create planks. During the cutting and the sawing of timber, there’s a lot of sawdust produced, which reduces the amount of useful material a single trunk can provide.
When it comes to engineered wood planks, there’s a lot less solid wood necessary. The lower layers of the engineered planks can be sourced from less expensive, faster-growing trees, which minimises the impact the lumber industry has on the environment.
The wear layer of the engineered boards also doesn’t need to be nearly as thick as a solid wood plank. That means that the overall amount of useful material that can be extracted from a single piece of timber is much higher. All of that makes engineered boards a much better choice both for the environment and the budget-conscious.