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Engineered Hardwood Flooring Glossary

Today, if you want beautiful hardwood floors in your home, solid planks of wood are no longer your only option. Engineered wood flooring look identical to solid wood, but they offer several added benefits, including enhanced stability and ease of installation. These boards look great installed throughout the home and can even be used to create an accent wall. Familiarize yourself with these terms before choosing engineered hardwood flooring.


Engineered hardwood’s natural beauty will take your home’s decor to the next level. (Vanier Engineered Hardwood – Brazilian Pecan Natural)

Aluminum Oxide: A flooring finish commonly applied to engineered hardwood. This finish enhances hardness and abrasion resistant qualities, helping wood floors stand up to wear and tear over time

Below grade: Below ground level. Thanks to their multi-layered construction, engineered floor boards expand and contract less than solid hardwood flooring. This makes engineered hardwood a better choice for below grade locations, like basements, where dampness is common.

Distressing: A finishing process that makes an engineered wood floor look aged or slightly worn.

Engineered hardwood: A type of wood floor manufactured from three or more layers of high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium-density fibreboard (MDF), and a real hardwood veneer top layer bonded together under heat and pressure.

Finish: A top coat applied to engineered hardwood to add durability to the floor and help protect it from dirt and moisture. Quality finishes also help make maintenance easier. Examples include polyurethane and UV-cured aluminum oxide.

Floating floor: An installation method in which engineered hardwood planks are not glued or nailed to the subfloor. Instead, the flooring planks are laid over the subfloor and glued or clicked together.

Gloss: The level of shine each plank exhibits. High-gloss floors reflect more light, but might require more maintenance, while low-gloss floors (e.g. matte or satin) hide dust and scratches more, but don’t reflect light.

Glueless click-lock: A type of installation system that allows engineered hardwood floor boards to click together. No nails or glue are needed to hold the boards in place.

Grain pattern: Refers to the alignment of the fibers in the wood, which creates the pattern seen on floor boards. Since engineered hardwood has a real wood veneer, it features natural grain patterns.

Moldings: Trim (such as a quarter round or base shoe) applied to engineered hardwood floors help ease the transition between rooms or from floors to walls. They give a flooring installation a finished look.

Plank: One section of engineered wood floor that measures 3 inches wide or more. Most planks are long and rectangular in shape, though shorter pieces might be used for certain designs, such as parquet.

Ply: A construction layer of engineered wood. Each plank consists of multiple plies. The more plies in a plank, the higher the quality, on average.

Quarter round: A convex trim piece with a section that’s shaped like a quarter circle. Quarter rounds sit flush with the wall or baseboard and the floor.

Radiant heating: A heating system installed underneath the floor, which is designed to keep the floors a comfortable temperature and help improve energy efficiency in the home.

Tongue-and-groove: The design of floor planks that allows them to fit together; the tongue of one piece fits into the groove of the one next to it.

Underlayment: A material installed between the subfloor and the finish floor in an engineered hardwood floor installation. It offers several benefits, including cushioning and noise reduction.

Variation: The changes in pattern and tone in engineered hardwood floor planks. Since engineered hardwood has a real wood veneer, natural variation is to be expected.

Wear layer: The top veneer layer of an engineered wood floor. Wear layers greater than 2 mm can be sanded and refinished, but only so many times. The thicker the wear layer, the greater the floor’s longevity.

What else would you like to learn about engineered hardwood flooring? Let us know in the comments.

Browse our selection of beautiful Engineered Hardwood Flooring here.

(3) Comments

  1. BuildDirect Product Expert Team

    Hi Beverly. Thanks for reaching out to us! Yes, Engineered Hardwood can be used in kitchen applications. It holds up better to water than a hardwood product would, but any spills or leaks left too long can damage the material. A couple other options that hold up better to water would be vinyl or woodgrain porcelain. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

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