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Engineered Flooring

Updated on December 1, 2009

If you want to add the beauty of hardwood flooring to your home, but you find out that solid hardwood floors are a little out of your price range and the installation is beyond your carpentry skills; then engineered flooring might be a good option for you.  Engineered wood flooring is a good compromise for people that love the look and feel of hardwood, but cannot afford to install solid hardwood.  Engineered hardwood flooring is not laminate made out of synthetic materials.  In fact, an engineered wood floor does have a top layer made out of hardwood.  A hardwood veneer is the first layer of an engineered floor.  This layer can be oak, pine, ash, teak, or any other exotic hardwood.  Engineered oak flooring is among the most popular.  The layers underneath are made of more cost effective woods, plywood, or fiberboard.

There are several advantages to using engineered flooring vs. hardwood.  First, the engineered wood flooring comes already sanded and finished.  Many hardwood floors are not finished and this adds an extra step in the installation process.  Second, engineered flooring prices are usually more reasonable than solid hardwood.  This is because only the top layer is made of the expensive wood products.  Most of the floor is made of inexpensive materials so the price to the consumer is less.  Another advantage is the fact that engineered flooring reviews reveal that it can withstand much greater fluctuations in temperature and weather than solid hardwood.  Hardwood has limitations that you just do not have with engineered flooring.  For example, engineered floors can be installed directly over concrete, over radiant floor heating, and in basements or other locations that are susceptible to moisture.  The reason for this is the unique layered design.

Engineered flooring vs. laminate also reveals some advantages in favor of the former.  Engineered hardwood flooring is actually made out of wood so it looks and feels like the real thing.  Laminate is synthetic and just a picture of wood put onto other materials.

With both laminate and solid hardwood, engineered flooring installation has an advantage.  Engineered flooring is installed using a tongue and groove method.  If you do not want to, you do not have to use any nails in the installation of engineered flooring.  However, engineered flooring manufacturers have designed the groove side of the floor so that you can fit a special nail gun into the groove if you want an extra secure installation.  With hardwood, you need to carefully nail each piece into place and then touch up any nail holes left behind.  This process is time consuming and requires greater carpentry skills than the average Do It Yourselfer has.  The video below gives a good overview of the installation process for engineered flooring.  It is really quite simple and you could finish an entire room in a day.

One possible disadvantage to engineered flooring is that you cannot refinish it as often as you can a solid hardwood floor.  Because the hardwood is only that thin veneer layer on top, you do not have a lot of room to sand down and re-stain.  You might be able to get one refinish out of an engineered hardwood floor, but no more.


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