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Engineered Hardwood Floors: 6 Pros and Cons

Posted on Aug 31, 2017, by Alan Fennell

Engineered hardwood flooring is made from layers of ply that are bonded together, and topped with a layer of real hardwood. This creates an aesthetic that's very similar to real wood flooring, without the high price point. But how does it compare to other hard flooring types?

Today we're weighing up the pros and cons of engineered hardwood floors, to help you assess whether it's a smart flooring choice for your organization.

Pros of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

1) Aesthetics

The primary advantage of engineered hardwood flooring is how it looks. As the top layer is real hardwood, you can achieve an aesthetic that's almost identical to real wood flooring. This means organizations can recreate the look of real wood flooring, without breaking the bank.

The wood flooring aesthetic is particularly favored by some design-conscious organizations, and engineered hardwood flooring makes it more accessible than solid hardwood flooring.

2) Better Moisture Resistance than Laminate

Some types of hard flooring are very susceptible to moisture damage. Laminate flooring has a wood powder core that doesn’t handle moisture very well. Laminate floor can warp, buckle or distort if exposed to too much moisture – such as from wet cleaning or from the subfloor. Similarly, solid wood flooring expands and contracts under fluctuating moisture conditions, which can cause it to crack.

In contrast, engineered hardwood doesn't expand or contract as much when it comes into contact with moisture, meaning it's less likely to warp, crack or buckle.

3) Easier to Install than Solid Wood Flooring

Real wood flooring is notoriously difficult to install, clean and maintain, all of which adds to its high cost of ownership. In contrast, engineered hardwood flooring is much easier to install - bearing more similarity to laminate flooring in the processes required.

You have three main installation options:

  • Nail-down - individual planks are nailed down to keep them in place.
  • Glue-down - planks are glued or otherwise adhered to the subfloor.
  • Floating installation - planks lock together to create a stable floor. In this case, planks around the perimeter of the room may be nailed or glued down, but the rest hold themselves in place.

Cons of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

1) Surface is Easily Damaged

One of the biggest drawbacks of wood flooring is that the surface of the wood is easily damaged: moving furniture, dropping items, or simply walking in high heels can lead to the surface becoming scratched, scuffed or dented - not the look you envisioned for your organization.

The same problem is true with engineered hardwood flooring. Other types of hard flooring are better protected against damage and offer a similar aesthetic - such as luxury vinyl tile which has a clear wear layer to protect against wear and tear.

2) Cost

While engineered hardwood flooring is much cheaper than solid wood flooring, it's still more expensive to buy, install and maintain than other types of hard flooring. As the top layer of the flooring is wood, it requires the same careful cleaning and maintenance as solid wood flooring, which increases the total cost of ownership.

3) Wide Range in Quality and Durability

The top, real wood, layer of engineered hardwood flooring is available in different thicknesses, which affects not only the price, but also the quality and durability of the flooring.

If wood flooring becomes scratched, gouged or otherwise damaged, it's often possible to sand the topmost layer, to erase the visible damage. However, some engineered hardwood flooring only has a thin layer of hardwood on top, meaning there's a risk of doing more harm than good.

Alternatives to Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring is a fantastic option for companies looking to recreate the aesthetics of solid wood flooring., but there are other hard flooring options.

Laminate flooring is still a popular choice, and luxury vinyl tile flooring is currently the fastest growing commercial flooring type in the world - capable of recreating the aesthetics of wood flooring to a near-imperceptible level of detail, and offering unbeatable durability and ease of maintenance alongside.

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Alan Fennell

Written by Alan Fennell