The Most Popular Engineered Flooring Finishes
What Is Engineered Flooring?
Engineered flooring is a remarkable product that turned the hardwood flooring market on its head. By taking only a thin layer of the desired timber and fixing this to a thicker layers of plywood made of a more durable and stable timber species such as spruce, engineered flooring offers a cheap, more environmentally friendly and higher quality hardwood floor.
By employing this innovative technique, engineered flooring looks and feels virtually identical to solid wood flooring and the timber used at the surface, typically oak, ash or walnut, can have various finishes applied to it like solid wood flooring to create floors that look as different as Florence's polar and eclipse. Just take a look at this engineered flooring palette to get an idea of what is possible.
A brushed finish is applied to most engineered flooring that attempts to achieve a rustic feel. This finish is achieved by abrading the surface of the flooring with a wire roller brush.
By brushing the surface timber, soft summer growth is removed and desirable, characteristic features such as knotting, mineral streaks and graining are further exposed and emphasised. Brushed engineered flooring also has a distinctive textured surface with small grooves left behind that follow the grain of the timber used in the engineered flooring, typically oak.
Fumed engineered flooring also attempts to create an aged, antiqued feel. A fumed finish is achieved by exposing the timber to ammonia fumes over a period of between 12 and 72 hours. The longer the flooring is exposed, the more extreme the fumed effect is. This Galleria engineered structural fumed oak flooring is an example of a relatively heavily fumed oak floor.
Fuming the timber brings the tannins in the wood to the surface and darkens its shade. A similar effect occurs naturally due to the traces of ammonia that is ordinarily in the atmosphere, however this would take around 100 years. Fumed engineered flooring speeds up the process and gives the desirable faded, grey appearance of old, reclaimed wood flooring but without the flaws that come with wood flooring that is so old.
A hand scraped finish is a great way to achieve that distressed flooring look. This style's origins can be traced back to how solid wood flooring in the past was first laid and secured, and then levelled by scraping away any peaks by hand. This practice has continued to this day as hand scraped flooring remains commonplace with rustic style engineered flooring.
The finishes applied to engineered are intended primarily to provide protection to the surface of the flooring against scratches, dents, staining and fading. Matt lacquered engineered flooring is perfect for this with it's durable coating. This lacquer sits on the surface of the wood and is non light reflective which retains the natural appearance of the timber.
Those who want to truly retain the natural appearance of the wood in their flooring often opt for an oiled finish. An oil is similar to a lacquer but instead of sitting on the surface of the wood, penetrates deep into the timber offering great protection. Specific oils exist such as HPPC oil and those that protect against UV fading.
A satin lacquer is often applied to family or select grade engineered flooring to both protect the surface against scratches and give a gentle light reflecting sheen. Satin lacquered flooring tends to have a more modern or contemporary feel as opposed to the rustic air of oiled flooring.
Purchasing engineered flooring unfinished is a good idea for those who want to add their own unique touch to their new flooring. There are many specialised lacquers, oils and stains available on the market for your to create your own truly bespoke flooring.
I advise against buying engineered flooring unfinished and keeping it that way. Finishes are there for a reason and unfinished engineered flooring will be more prone to staining and physical damage than flooring protected with a lacquer which is also easier to clean.
While not exactly a finish in the sense of the others mentioned in this hub, Florence have managed to achieve a delightfully wide array of flooring styles through the application of various stains including Eclipse for a dark brown/black oak floor, Polar for a white-grey, Antique for a medium-dark brown and Golden for a warm golden brown oak floor. These stains penetrate deeply into the brushed oak and have been sealed with a matt lacquer.