What Is Engineered Wooden Flooring?
Engineered Wooden Flooring
Engineered flooring falls somewhere inbetween its two better known counterparts, solid wood flooring and laminate flooring. This is because despite being composed entirely of wood, only the top few millimeters of an engineered wooden flooring plank are of a desirable timber species such as oak or walnut. This wear layer is fixed to a highly durable plywood base composed either of fast-growing spruce timber or from recycled wood. This better value, greener alternative isn't cutting corners though as a plywood base is more stable and therefor better suited as flooring than solid wood and is more resistant to dents and the warping that often occurs in solid wood flooring over time due to localised heat fluctuations. This resistance to warping also means that engineered flooring can be laid over underfloor heating unlike any other wood flooring type.
You can think of engineered flooring as hybrid flooring, the best of both worlds, that can save you money and save the environment while appearing and feeling identical to solid wood flooring.
An Example Of Some Engineered Flooring
Engineered Flooring As A Green Alternative
There's a misconception that wood flooring is bad for the environment. As long as the timber is sustainably sourced and new trees are grown in its place, having a wooden floor in your home helps remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As a tree grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmospohere and holds the carbon in its timber. This timber therefor acts as a 'carbon store' and prevents the carbon dioxide from reentering the atmospere which would otherwise happen if the wood was burnt or allowed to decompose.
However, the timber we usually consider suitable for hardwood flooring (oak, maple, walnut) are slow growing tree species whereas spruce or birch trees, which make up the bulk of an engineered flooring plank, are amongst the fastest growing species.
Another remarkable green development is engineered bamboo flooring. Although not technically wood flooring (bamboo is actually a grass), engineered bamboo makes great flooring and is some of the cheapest engineered flooring around. Bamboo shoots are harvested by cutting at the base of the stem and being one of the fastest growing plant species, the bamboo will be ready for reharvesting in just 3-5 years.
Engineered Flooring As A Cheap Alternative
There's an area of debate over whether engineered flooring is cheaper than solid wood flooring. In the United States, engineered flooring is reportedly more expensive than a solid wood equivalent. Yet in the UK, engineered flooring is nearly always cheaper than solid wood flooring of a similar quality. The cheapest solid wood flooring I could find was £16.90 sq.m (excl VAT) opposed to £11.38 sq.m for engineered flooring.
If one company is able to sell engineered flooring at a lower price than solid wood flooring, then it must be cheaper as it simply wouldn't be profitable otherwise. I suspect that in America, companies take advantage of the situation and charge uncompetitive prices. They manage to get away with this however due to the fact that engineered flooring is in many ways better than solid wood. Residents of the UK and the rest of Europe really have the best of both worlds.