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The benefits of hardwood flooring

14 April 2010

Even to some professionals such as carpenters, the advantages of engineered wooden flooring are not always that clear. Livinghouse explains..

What is an engineered wooden floor?

An engineered hardwood floor is a composite sandwich of plywood layers which are bonded together with the wood grain at right angles to the previous layer and finished with a final thick solid layer of decorative hardwood veneer.

Traditionally, if you wanted to install a hardwood floor the only choice to be made was which species of wood do you like. This is because wooden floors were always manufactured out of a solid plank of wood. What wasn’t understood was that a solid piece of wood had limitations to its use.

1) Engineered to be more stable.

Engineered hardwood flooring has been constructed to be up to 80% more stable than its solid equivalent. Therefore solid hardwood flooring is more moisture sensitive and suffers from a lot larger dimensional size changes than its engineered hardwood flooring equivalent. For example, When a solid wood floor takes on moisture when the air is humid in the summer months or from the slab, if there are slab moisture problems, it expands in size. If the floor over expands this can be shown as warping or cupping in the boards. On the other end of the scale if solid wood flooring looses moisture when the air is dry eg when the central heating is on, it shrinks. This can be shown as unsightly gaps between the boards. Both these issues are up to 80% less of an issue in engineered hardwood flooring.

2) Saving precious hardwoods.

Hardwoods are generally very slow growing compared to soft woods. Therefore by using a 6mm veneer top layer for the engineered wood flooring there would be a saving of 70% less hardwood in its construction. A 6mm hardwood top veneer will give the same wear layer and life expectance as a solid wood floor.

3) Engineered hardwood flooring is the only real choice for fitting hardwood flooring over under floor heating.

Engineered wood flooring due to its extra stability is the only trouble free choice over under floor heating. This is because the under floor heating is regularly changing temperature and this in turn changes the moisture content of the wood flooring. For a solid hardwood floor this can cause large gaps between planks, splitting in the boards due to the wood drying out or warping in the boards due to quick temperature changes in the heating. These issues are generally not a problem with engineered boards.

In conclusion, now that engineered wooden boards can be supplied with extra thick 6mm top wear layer the engineered floor has the same lifespan as a solid wooden floor. Therefore the engineered hardwood floor only has advantages against solid wood flooring. So the smart person really should embrace engineered flooring as the preferred trouble free choice.

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