Engineered wood flooring is a bit of a misnomer, as the word “engineered” brings to mind laminates and other unnatural products. “Engineered” in this context means layers of wood as the base and core of these planks, which are then topped with a hardwood surface layer.
Variances in thicknesses account for differences in pricing, but basic construction remains constant. Between three and 12 layers, arranged in a cross grain pattern for strength, are glued and pressed together. The edges form a tongue-and-groove locking system. The top hardwood layer is then glued and pressed into place. The result is a wooden plank better suited to a humid environment, with greater stability and a much smaller environmental cost than that of hardwood flooring.
Benefits of Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood planks withstand differences in temperature and humidity better than hardwood planks do, making them ideal for use in basements and other moisture-prone areas. They also hold up well when installed over radiant heating systems, whereas hardwood flooring is more likely to dry, shrink, crack, cup, or buckle in the same conditions. It can also be glued directly over a dry concrete slab, or stapled to a wood subfloor.
Costs and Class
A number of factors dictate the cost of engineered wood flooring, as well as its class designation. A thicker surface layer, also called the wear layer, indicates higher quality, as do a greater number of core layers.
A 3-ply engineered wood plank costs between $3 and $5 per square foot. The wear layer measures between 1 and 2 millimeters and has five finish coats. Overall thickness is 1/4 inch. Typically, the hardwood layer comes in only the most common hardwood tree types, such as ash and oak, with fewer staining options. Warranty averages between 10 and 15 years.
A 5-ply engineered wood plank costs between $6 and $9 per square foot. These feature a surface hardwood layer measuring between 2 and 3 millimeters, and overall thickness of 1/4 inch. The surface receives seven finish coats, with more hardwood species available. In addition to all stain choices being available, homeowners may choose effects such as distressing. Warranty averages between 15 and 25 years.
7-Ply or Higher Construction
A 7-ply or higher engineered wood plank costs between $10 and $14 per square foot. The hardwood wear layer measures 3 millimeters or higher and includes nine finish coats. Overall plank thickness measures between 5/8 and 3/4 of an inch. This class includes the widest variety of hardwood tree species, as well as reclaimed wood, and more surface effects. Warranty lasts 25 years or more.
Maintaining Engineered Wood Flooring
Maintaining and cleaning wood flooring is a breeze as long as you do it regularly. Use a soft bristle broom or a dry, microfiber mop daily to remove dust, dirt, and other debris. Once a week, set the vacuum to bare floor and run it over the wood planks to pick up any dust gathered between the boards. About once a month, use the wood cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.
Do not use any cleansers meant for tile or laminate flooring. Do not use a wet mop. You may use a slightly damp cloth to wipe away spills, however. Remember to clean any spills as soon as they happen, as sitting liquid irreversibly damages wood. Do not use detergents, steel wool, or wax-based cleansers.
Placing rugs in high-traffic areas protects your wood floors from scrapes, scratches, and dents. Place furniture on rugs and use felt protectors on the legs of chairs, tables, and sofas.