What Are Engineered Woods? Part 2 of 2
Engineered wood floors are planks that have a hardwood veneer and multiple subsequent layers of wood that form a plywood core. They offer certain advantages over solid wood floors when it comes to versatility and economy. Take a look.
Advantages to Engineered Woods
Engineered woods work well in basements where moisture would damage solid woods. Since each layer of the plywood core of engineered planks are positioned at 90 degree angles to subsequent layers the natural tendency for planks to expand and contract in humid conditions is lessened.
You can lay engineered flooring on top of any flat, stable surface. That includes vinyl flooring, ceramic tile, and existing wood floors. Engineered woods can be glued directly to existing ceramic. If you were to lay a solid wood floor over ceramic tile you would first need to lay a thick plywood sub-floor, which would increase costs. The height of the subfloor and the thickness of the solid wood would also make the new floor too thick.
If you want to install a wood floor over radiant heating engineered floors are best since they are thinner and transfer heat more efficiently than thick, solid woods. Floating engineered wood floors are best since they don’t require staples or nails, which might puncture hot water tubes or wires. (Check with the manufacturer of your radiant heating system before using a foam underlayment for your floor, since it interferes with the flow of heat).
Disadvantages to Engineered Woods
The disadvantage of an engineered wood floor is better described as a limitation. Although it can handle changes in moisture better than solid wood floors, its limits can be exceeded in bathroom settings due to the frequency of steam from showers, wet feet, and drips. Laundry rooms present a similar challenge.
Engineered Wood Quality Classifications and Costs
Engineered wood with this classification has a 1-2 millimeter hardwood top layer, or wear layer, and a 3-ply plywood core for a total thickness of ¼ inch. The wear layer has five finish coats. The cost of flooring of this quality ranges from $3 to $5 per square foot and it comes with a 10- to 15-year warranty. Options are limited to common species like oak or ash, and stain options are limited as well.
In this classification engineered wood has a 2-3 millimeter hardwood wear layer, and a 5-ply plywood core for a total thickness of ¼ inch. The wear layer has seven finish coats. The cost of flooring of this quality ranges from $6 to $9 per square foot and comes with a 15- to 25-year warranty. Wood options in this class are available in a wider range of species, including cherry, beech, and some exotics. All stains are available, as well as some surface effects like distressing.
Engineered wood with this classification has a 3+ millimeter hardwood wear layer—which can be sanded two or more times, and a plywood core of 7- to 9-ply (or more), for a total thickness that ranges from 5/8 to ¾ inch. The wear layer has nine finish coats. The cost of flooring ranges from $10 to $14 per square foot and comes with a warranty of 25+ years. This class offers the widest selection of woods, including reclaimed options. There are also more surface treatments available, including hand-scraped and wire brushed finishes.
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