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Engineered Hardwood Floors

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What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?


How To Choose An Engineered Wood Floor

Engineered wood flooring is a vital innovation, opening up the possbilities for real wood surfaces in homes and commerical settings. How do you choose one? Let’s take a look.

Some home improvements add functionality or visual appeal in a single room. Replacing an outdated floor with engineered wood flooring, however, can transform a space. Find out what features to look for when choosing an engineered wood floor that will complement your home décor style and decorating intentions.

Wood species

Engineered hardwood floors offer a pretty wide selection to consumers when it comes to the top layer of real wood that help to define them. To find the right species for your home, consider both the tones of the wood with your home décor style and material durability. Here is a selection of species that might help to get you thinking about which engineered wood flooring types make the most sense, and appeal most to your tastes.

  • Oak: One of the most popular species for hardwood flooring, oak has a slightly reddish tone and a medium ranking for hardness. If you’re expecting average wear and tear on your flooring surfaces, oak makes a solid choice.
    Browse for oak engineered wood floors
  • Maple: This species offers an attractive natural color and plenty of durability. One of the hardest species, maple works well in mudrooms, kitchens, and other areas that experience extensive foot traffic.
    Browse for maple engineered wood floors
  • Hickory: A hard domestic species that also resists moisture, hickory is a smart choice in kitchens and other spaces that often experience temperature fluctuations and significant foot traffic.
    Browse for hickory engineered wood floors
  • American walnut: A softer species than hickory, yet distinctively decocative with flowing grain patterns and richly opulent color variation, American walnut flooring is a unique surface to accompany a wide variety of home decor.
    Browse for American walnut engineered wood floors

Layer thickness

Engineered hardwood floors can vary in thickness. Many flooring types are made with only a few layers, while others have seven or more. Lower-quality engineered wood flooring can be as little as three-eighths of an inch deep.

In general, engineered hardwood floors should have at least three layers that are cross-stacked, glued, and pressed together. Higher-quality flooring tends to have more layers, about three-quarters of an inch deep.

While each layer of engineered wood flooring serves a purpose, the wear layer, or lamella, is the most important. You won’t need to worry about the wear layer much at first, but if you opt to rework the floors at any point, this layer plays a big role.

If you want to refinish heavily used living room floors or refinish kitchen floors to coordinate with new cabinets, for example, you’ll want to have the thickest possible wear layer.

Core layer

If you’re concerned about long-term durability, stability, or support in your new engineered hardwood floor, you’ll also want to choose the core layer wisely.

  • Plywood: The most common core type, plywood offers great support, offers durability, and works well for most flooring needs.
  • HDF: When constructed with alternating layers of plywood, an HDF core is one of the most stable and durable core options available.
  • Fiberglass: One of the least common core types, fiberglass or fiberboard is generally less supportive and can compromise your flooring’s durability.

To stain or not to stain?

For many homeowners, wood stain makes or breaks a floor’s appearance. Stain is about achieving a certain color tone, and not every tone will coordinate with your new kitchen island or the family room paint color you’ve chosen. You can buy most types of engineered wood flooring prestained, but you can also stain or restain the floor after its installation.

  • Unstained: When you simply want to highlight the natural color and grain of your hardwood flooring, leave the material unstained.
  • Cherry: This reddish tone boosts the stately look of your flooring and works well with traditional designs.
  • Walnut: This darker color adds a touch of class to any space and works best in rooms with a modern design.
  • Gray: A clean, contemporary color, gray stain works well in spaces with straight lines and a modern design.
Browse for stained engineered wood flooring

Shiny and subdued finishes

Like traditional hardwood floors, engineered floors rely on a hardwood finish to seal the wood and to increase its lifespan. Since almost all engineered hardwood flooring comes prefinished, you’ll want to make sure the type you choose best fits your décor.

If you’re already thinking ahead to your next home renovation, engineered hardwood flooring can withstand a few rounds of sanding, restaining, and refinishing. This type of flooring isn’t designed for endless renovations, however, and options with thinner wear layers might only be able to handle one round of refinishing.

  • High Gloss: The shiniest type of finish, glossy floors give your space some serious shine. If you’re designing to impress, like to keep your interior clean, and don’t expect significant wear, a glossy floor is a smart choice in a living room, family room, or bedroom.
  • Matte: This finish might not have the sparkle of glossy floors, but the finish surface works well for hiding scratches. If your household includes kids, dogs, or both, matte-finish floors make a great choice in any room.
  • Semi-Gloss: The perfect balance between the two, semi-gloss finish has enough shine to look attractive, but not too much that the floor will require refinishing often.

Surface effects

One chic way to show off your decorating style, a surface effect adds texture and visual interest to your engineered hardwood flooring. Take your home décor to a new dimension by adding a surface effect to the floor.

  • Smooth: The ideal look for a professional home office or a formal dining room, smooth floors mean business. This finish doesn’t do well with major amounts of foot traffic.
  • Hand-Scraped: Hardwood floors with a hand-scraped texture give any room a slightly lived-in look, ideal for a comfy living room or a welcoming den.
  • Distressed: Serious distress lends a rustic look and gives floors an aged appearance. Distressed floors look great in country kitchens, lodge-style living rooms, and mudrooms.

Edge types

Complete the look of your engineered hardwood flooring by choosing the best edge type for your space. While edge types primarily affect the feel and level of the flooring, this feature can also add to the overall look.

  • Square Edges: Engineered hardwood flooring with square edges has a uniformly level feel and lends a clean, formal look to any room.
  • Beveled Edges: These edge types create deep grooves between floor panels and create a more textured and visually interesting look.
  • Eased Edges: These edges create only minor grooves between panels and offer a touch of visual interest while also hiding irregularities among panels.

Much more than a basic home improvement, an engineered wood floor has the power to change your living space completely. Whether you install engineered wood floors in the kitchen, living room, or in other areas of your home, you’ll make an eye-catching statement with walkable surfaces that visually unite the elements of your home décor style.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is engineered hardwood flooring?
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Engineered hardwood flooring features a top layer of hardwood veneer over a plywood, hardwood, or HDF (high density fiber) core. Because engineered hardwood veneers are made from real wood, and not a photographic layer, they have the natural characteristics of the selected wood species.

What are the benefits of engineered hardwood flooring?
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Engineered hardwood flooring offers more versatility than solid hardwood flooring because its construction allows it to be installed in many areas where solid planks aren’t recommended (like basements). This is due to its ability to resist moisture and humidity better than solid hardwood, which might swell or warp under the same conditions. Many engineered options are also able to be installed over underfloor heating systems that would otherwise dry out and damage hardwood.

What does greater stability mean?
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The instability of solid hardwood flooring is generally moisture or heat related. In unsuitable conditions, solid hardwood can warp, cup, swell, or split apart. Engineered hardwood is more stable because it overcomes many of these problems with its the multi-ply plank construction that counteracts twisting and remains flat and intact.This makes engineered hardwood a better candidate for installation over underfloor heating and concrete, whether it’s above or below grade.

How many layers does engineered flooring have?
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In addition to the top hardwood veneer, engineered wood flooring typically has three or more layers. Generally, there is greater stability with more layers. The core layers may be plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood.

How thick is the hardwood veneer?
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The top layer of hardwood, also known as the hardwood veneer, ranges in thickness from 0.5 mm to upwards of 6 mm. Thicker veneer layers are priced higher as they can be refinished multiple times, extending the life of your floor.

Is the Janka rating useful for engineered hardwood flooring?
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The Janka rating is a good one to keep in mind for engineered hardwood flooring as well as solid hardwood, especially if durability is a key selling feature for you. The Janka hardness rating of the hardwood used for the veneer on your engineered flooring will guide you to the best choice for your intended flooring use.

How do you install engineered hardwood flooring?
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In general, engineered hardwood flooring can be installed in one of three different ways: 1. Nail down if you are installing over a plywood subfloor 2. Glue down if you are installing over a plywood or concrete subfloor 3. Float if you are installing over a plywood or concrete subfloor. Please refer to your installation instruction for details.

What is the maximum variance allowable for a subfloor?
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A well-prepared subfloor helps ensure a successful installation of your engineered flooring. The variance should be no more than 3/16-inch over 10 feet.

How do I clean engineered hardwood flooring?
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Keep your engineered flooring swept, clean, and dry on a daily basis. Use either a vacuum cleaner with a soft flooring attachment, or a broom. A dry microfiber dust mop can be used to pick up dirt and debris from the floor. Spills must be wiped up as soon as they occur. Excessive water or liquid can cause irreversible damage to engineered hardwood flooring. You can also keep pebbles, dirt, moisture, grains of sand, fragments of glass, and debris away by keeping floor mats and rugs at all entrances. This will help keep the upper wear layer and finish of your floor safe and intact for a longer period of time. Avoid walking on your floors with high heeled shoes or shoes with spikes because they can cause severe damage to the upper wear layer of the floor. Wax-based cleaners, harsh detergents, or steel wool should not be used to clean engineered hardwood flooring.

Does engineering destroy the natural beauty of hardwood floors?
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Not at all. The top hardwood layer (a hardwood veneer) is the same genuine hardwood you have in solid hardwood floors.

Can I refinish (sand) an engineered floor?
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It depends upon the thickness of your hardwood layer but 95% of hardwood surfaces are never refinished. With the high quality finishes that are offered and the extensive process that refinishing a floor entails, damaged areas are often removed professionally. If sanding is desired, typically, the professional sanding procedure removes 1/32 of an inch. Thus if your floor has a 2mm layer you can sand the floor 1-2 times.

Is engineered hardwood flooring good for children and pets?
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Engineered hardwood is a great option for children and pets. However, it is recommended that you install engineered hardwood floors with the toughest finish and/or the highest Janka hardness score.

How to Install Glue-less Click Engineered Hardwood Flooring

One popular installation method for Engineered Hardwood Flooring would be the glue-less click process! This type of flooring can be installed directly over most existing floor coverings, with the excpetion of carpet. Any wood flooring or subflooring glued to concrete must be removed before the installation. Before you begin, read this article for tips on how to properly prepare your subfloor. This article also describes the recommended accessories, trims, moldings, and transition pieces for your installation. Learn more here!

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Engineered Hardwood vs. Solid Hardwood

Installing new solid or engineered hardwood flooring will add value and elegance to your home. Although they offer the same timeless look and sense of warmth, engineered hardwood and solid hardwood do offer a few key differences. For example, engineered hardwood is manufactured from three or more layers of fiberboard, and a real hardwood veneer top layer. Contrastly, solid hardwood is milled from a real hardwood species, making it the sole material used in this type of flooring. Learn more differences here!

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Engineered Hardwood Flooring from BuildDirect

Our engineered hardwood flooring is versatile and innovative, allowing you to install your chosen color, cut, finish, and surface texture in areas where solid hardwood is not recommended. This means you get the effect you want without having to worry as much about the moisture levels and temperatures in your space. Our engineered floors free up your options and let your creativity lead the way.

Versatility of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

For the advantage of real hardwood in areas where solid wood floors are not recommended, engineered hardwood flooring is your clear choice for interiors, like:

  • better for below-grade installations - basements, where dampness is common.
  • over radiant heating systems, which tend to dry out solid hardwood, causing the boards to shrink, cup, and buckle.
  • on a concrete subfloor, either as a direct glue-down or a floating floor.
  • geographical areas with extreme climate conditions.
  • "Glueless click" engineered floors allow for a real wood flooring surface and the ease of installation similar to laminate floors - faster completion time, less mess, real wood.

Why Buy Engineered Hardwood Flooring from BuildDirect

We offer trusted lines of engineered wood flooring - Vanier and Jasper - which reflect what you want in premium wood floors; attractiveness, durability, and long-lasting value to your property. We make sure that each selection of engineered wood flooring under these names meets the highest standards. And we deliver them at the best possible price.

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Explore our great selection of engineered floors, and feel free to ask one of our friendly BuildDirect product specialists if you have any questions. Call us toll-free at 1-877-631-2845.