Engineered wood flooring is wooden flooring where the planks or blocks used to create the floor consist of more than one layer. It looks and feels just like a solid wood floor because the top layer is solid wood, usually a hardwood such as oak. But an engineered wood floor is far more stable than a solid wood floor, which is why it is now by far the most common type of timber flooring fitted worldwide.
Why is an engineered wood floor so stable?
Wood is hygroscopic. This means that it absorbs moisture. So when the surrounding humidity changes, either due to changes in the climate or through the use of heating or air conditioning, wood can swell or shrink. This can result in the planks cupping or warping, or gaps opening up between them.
Engineered wood is made up of multiple layers. The top layer, known as the wear layer or lamella, is usually a hardwood and most often it is oak. The base layers are usually softwood or a multi-layered plywood, although occasionally they may even be made with more layers of hardwood. All the layers are bonded together so that the grain of each one runs perpendicularly to that of the layer on either side, making it virtually impossible for the wood to swell or shrink.
Are there other advantages to engineered wood flooring?
Essentially engineered timber offers you a lot more choice.
Because it is so stable engineered wood planks and blocks can usually be fitted over underfloor heating. They are also now available in much bigger sizes, so those really impressive wide and long planks you see are a direct result of engineering wood.
Most engineered wood products are pre-finished, which means that you can see exactly what your floor will look like before it is fitted. And since there are now so many wonderful finishes available it ensures you have far more options without having to resort to the use of tropical hardwoods. Furthermore, in addition to all the usual installation methods engineered wood planks with a click fit system offer a particularly easy option.
And last, but by no means least, engineered wood is particularly tree-friendly because it uses less of the slow-growth hardwoods. Using more wood is, in general, good for our planet because it encourages the harvesting and replanting of our forests, but fast-growing softwoods provide a quicker turnover.
What are the alternatives to engineered wood flooring?
Engineered wood flooring is a superb alternative to a solid wood floor, but it's not necessarily a cheaper alternative. If you want the look and feel of real wood in a quality flooring but are on a tight budget a veneer could well be the perfect answer. A veneer uses a very thin layer of real wood, usually bonded to a core of some type of composite wood product like fibreboard. Par-ky is Havwoods' collection of choice; displaying all the unique characteristics of solid or engineered wood it is also tough and durable and is the European market leader in wood veneer flooring.
Another alternative to engineered wood is laminate flooring. This is a multi-layered synthetic product fused together using a lamination process. It simulates wood by using a photographic process under a clear protective layer. Havwoods do not offer laminate flooring, but we do stock a more technically advanced alternative in Fusion. Here our favourite boards are replicated directly onto high density wood fibre board. These boards are far harder than oak, so Fusion is at least as tough as any laminate. It is also equally as easy to install and maintain but, unlike a laminate, it is warm to the touch and the feet, just like wood.