Engineered wood, like engineered stone, is manmade. Rather than using solid boards, manufacturers glue and bonded together multi-layers of materials; a top veneer or wear layer (a thin slice of hardwood), and a central core made up of additional layers all going in perpendicular directions. The number of layers vary by product from 3 to as many as 10 with 5 to 7 layers most typical. The process of using engineered wood for the flooring helps prevent the wood from expanding/contracting causing warping and bowing in humid or dry areas, the way a hardwood might.
Most engineered wood comes pre-finished, unlike solid hardwood which is generally finished on site. They can have a high gloss, semi-gloss or a matte finish as well as different looks – distressed or wire-brushed. Aluminum oxide creates a very durable finish but must be factory installed. Oiled finishes often have a matte finish and allows you to repair superficial scratchesThis is used in lieu of polyurethanes, which can be applied by the do-it-yourselfer, however this product is more likely to yellow with age and release volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Engineered wood is an environmentally-friendly alternative to solid-wood flooring that requires cutting down fewer trees and creates less waste. Engineered wood is constructed in a number of ways. The top layer is always a hardwood and the core may be made with layers of plywood or a hardwood core. This construction minimizes the expansion andshrinkage of the flooring due to temperature and humidity changes.
AAnother advantage of using plywood is the ability to choose from some very costly exotic woods, such as Brazilian cherry hardwood or Ope, which would be very costly using the solid planks. The engineered version would be much less expensive and easier to source.
Engineered floors are also more versatile than solid wood. They can be installed on a variety of subfloors such as floating (which means they’re connected to each other but not fastened to the floor), nailed, or glued down. They can go below, on, or above grade (solid wood can’t be installed below grade). They can also be installed on floors where only thin flooring will fit. Unlike typical hardwoods, engineered flooring can be installed over concrete in basements and moist areas such as bathrooms. Solid wood flooring or engineered flooring may be used over plywood, existing wood floors, or oriented strand board (OSB) subfloors.
Engineered wood comes in a variety of different species of wood and different thicknesses from 3/8” to 3/4” thick. The thicker the veneer, the more times it can be re-finished (but the less resistant it will be to denting?). From The Forest says their high-density fiberboard (HDF) core with their thinnest veneer is their highest performing product when it comes to dent resistance. Sawyer Mason, uses a hardwood core rather than plywood for their engineered floor construction to create a green product and offer maximum stability.
Warranties vary on engineered wood depending on the grade of the wood and the wood species. Domestic woods, such as maple and oak might come with a 10 to 20 year warranty, whereas ax exotic hardwood, such as Brazilian Koa or ope, might have a 100 year warranty. Cost will also vary by grade and species.
One of the drawbacks to engineered wood, depending on the thickness of the veneer, is that it cannot be sanded as many times as solid wood. However, Sawyer Mason’s plank flooring offers the same amount of sanding and refinishing as solid wood. Thinner engineered flooring will not be as durable as hard wood, except in moist conditions, where it will be more dimensionally stable than solid wood. It is unlikely also that engineered wood will have the longevity of solid wood unless you choose an engineered flooring with a thick wear layer.
In general, engineered wood can be put throughout the house, requires less maintenance, is more moisture resistant, and generally at a lower cost – making it a good option to consider for your home.