About as expensive as solid wood, why would you choose a seemingly inferior product?
But it would be unfair to call engineered hardwood inferior. It was not developed as an affordable alternative to solid wood flooring.
In contrast, engineered wood flooring was developed to address some of the problems associated with hardwood floors, such as warping in wet conditions or extreme temperatures, as well as restrictions around installation.
So, for those looking for wood flooring that is timeless but requires versatility, engineered hardwood is an excellent flooring choice.
To find out if engineered hardwood is the right flooring option for you, let’s dive into the details. We’ll cover all the advantages and disadvantages of engineered hardwood flooring, how much it costs, and also answer some of the most common questions. We’ll also share a review of some of the best engineered hardwood flooring brands.
Ready to find out more? Then dive right in. In the spirit of staying neutral, we’ll start with the pros and cons of manufacturing engineered hardwood floors.
1. Installation on Concrete
If you have hardwood floors throughout your home and want to continue the theme at a lower level, hybrid flooring combines the best of both worlds. It’s stylish, yet practical.
Due to their multi-layered construction, engineered hardwood floors withstand moisture and hold moisture much better than solid hardwoods. Therefore, you can glue or float this product on the concrete slab. If you choose this method, be sure to waterproof the subsoil and repair any cracks prior to installation.
Remember to install a humidity meter to monitor humidity levels. Although engineered boards have a higher tolerance to temperature fluctuations, they still contain natural wood. This means engineered wood floors can bend or warp in extreme conditions.
2. Multiple Installation Methods
Want to install your new flooring without professional help? You will find it easier to use engineered products. This is the perfect DIY project for the seasoned weekend warrior.
Unlike solid hardwoods, you can float, clamp, or bond engineered wood. You can even find boards with a locking mechanism.
In addition to the variety available, you’ll also have a lot more wiggle room for minor mistakes. And because engineered wood is not very sensitive to moisture, your expansion gap doesn’t have to be precise.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to spaces. On the contrary. But if your measurement misses a little, it won’t show. Get Live Quotes from Local Floor Professionals
3. Less Sensitive To Moisture And Moisture
Engineered floors are dimensionally stable. Unlike hardwoods, manufacturers assemble these products in layers. The top layer is wood veneer, while the core layer consists of plywood, particle board, or fiberglass. These layers are then stacked in an alternating pattern and glued in opposite directions.
4. Increase Resale Value
This is good news for those considering processed wood. The resale market does not differentiate between engineered hardwoods and solid hardwoods. So, if you are worried about your return on investment, don’t worry.
In fact, if you have engineered wood installed throughout your home, you may be able to charge a higher price than those who have solid hardwoods in just a few key spaces.
5. You Can Polish Your Engineered Hardwood
Contrary to popular myth, you can polish processed wood. As long as you invest in a high quality product, it shouldn’t be a problem to sand and hold your floors.
But there is a warning.
If you plan to refresh your floors every few years, hybrid flooring isn’t the way to go. You can only polish the veneer so many times before it gets too thin.
Unlike solid wood, which can be sanded seven times on average, engineered boards are less durable after two to three re-coatings.
6. Sanded, colored and sealed
Want hardwood floors with a factory finish? Look at the engineered floor. Unlike a messy site finish, the finished board looks consistent out of the box. A high-quality finish will have tonal variations, but no bubbles or blemishes.
Plus, you can run it the same day it was installed. Stain and shield coatings give off a toxic odor.
If the factory stains your boards, exhaust exhaust will be minimal. So not only are you saving yourself from figurative headaches, you’re also preventing literal headaches.
7. Engineered Hardwood Resists Trend
Whether you plan to stay in your house forever or sell it when the market is heating up, wood flooring is an excellent investment.
Yes, it can be expensive at first. These floors are not only durable, they can stand the test of time.
Let’s face it, today’s hot decor trends will be old news tomorrow. (Think shag rugs or avocado colored utensils.)
However, hardwoods will never go out of style. (Maybe the color, maybe the pattern, but never the material.) Have you ever seen a century-old house with real carpet? Probably not.
8. Compatible With Radiant Heating
Want hardwood floors but don’t like the idea of stepping onto a cool hard surface in the morning? Buy a radiation heater. Not only cost-effective and convenient, but also compatible with engineered wood.
While it is difficult to find solid wood that is safe to install over heating in floors, most products are engineered to be durable enough to withstand changes in temperature.
However, before you go to the store, remember there are exceptions to this rule. Always check with the manufacturer before installing engineered wood over a light system
1. Engineered Hardwood Fades
Like other floors, engineered hardwood will fade over time when exposed to sunlight and UV rays.
Unfortunately, covering your room with large rugs or furniture will make matters worse. Your floor will still fade, but only open areas. So, in addition to the stained wood, you will also have noticeable spots.
Lesson? Treat engineered wood like any other hardwood floor. Use blinds and blinds to minimize the amount of direct sunlight hitting your floors.
2. Vulnerable To Scratches And Dents
Engineered hardwoods are not maintenance free. Far from it. Like cork and other solid varieties, it will still get dents, scratches, and scars.
If you have pets or like high heels, understand that your floors will scratch. And while some find these blemishes show character, others may cringe in the first place scars. If you are part of the latter group, wooden tiles may be a better choice.
3. Prices Comparable To Solid Hardwoods
Think you will save money on engineered hardwood? Not fast. In fact, quality engineered hardwoods cost about the same as solid (and even laminated) hardwoods; sometimes more.
Prices vary by location and manufacturer. But on average, expect to pay between $ 4.00- $ 7.00 per square foot. Of course, there are cheaper flooring alternatives out there, such as vinyl & linoleum planks.
4. Low Quality Core Construction
Some manufacturers try to cut production costs by using lower quality core materials such as oriental strand board or fiberboard. This action causes the floor to become unstable and prone to damage.
When shopping for engineered wood, beware of cheap imitations. High quality engineering floors have a plywood core that is dimensionally stable and built to withstand temperature fluctuations.
For all flooring products, it is best to do some research on the manufacturer and the construction process before making a purchase decision.
5. Manufacturers May Use Thin Veneer
Veneers must be at least 3/16 ”thick to ensure a long-lasting wear layer. While a thinner surface may be cheaper, it will be more expensive in the long run. If the surface layer is too thin, you will not be able to sand and smooth your floors.
Apart from thickness, remember to check how the wood is cut. Believe it or not, this makes a difference. Rotary cut veneer uses blades that peel off the top layer of the log, resulting in a wide grain appearance.
On the other hand, the sawn-cut veneer is sliced from the log, like solid wood. Because it mimics the same color variations and patterns as solid wood, most homeowners prefer the sawn-cut veneer look.
6. Without Gas
Many manufacturers still use formaldehyde and other carcinogens in the manufacture of their composite products. Often, they are found in adhesives and sealers used to attach floors.
These chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds, change to a gaseous state when heated to room temperature. This process is called off-gassing.
Although the government regulates the use of these chemicals, even small amounts can cause health problems. If you or someone in your household has a compromised immune system, look for floor mats that are formaldehyde-certified and VOC-free.
7. They Are Not Moisture-Resistant
Many homeowners mistake engineered flooring for good candidates for kitchens, bathrooms, and / or other high humidity areas.
And while they can withstand changes in humidity, even the best engineered hardwood planks are not waterproof. This means that fungus and bacteria can grow underneath, and if they get wet, they will warp and shift.
If you are thinking of using this floor in a basement, bathroom, or other potentially wet area, please reconsider. You will be very disappointed. Why not just take a look at the beautiful wooden tiles?
8. Processed Wood Is Still High Maintenance
Don’t let the engineering part fool you. You should still sweep or vacuum the dust particles daily with a hardwood vacuum. Also, you have to be careful what cleaning products you use. Heavy wax or oil can damage the top layer of your floor. Never flood your engineered wood with water, as this will cause bacterial growth and rot.
So, how much does engineered hardwood cost? Unfortunately, it depends. I know that’s not the most helpful answer, but it’s an honest answer.
What must you have? Are you willing to compromise quality for price, or vice versa?
Understand that unless it is part of a promotion, this floor is a mass-produced, low-quality imported item. If you go this route, be sure to get proof of health and safety compliance.
A little higher on the price scale, you’ll find mid-range products. These boards are of better quality, but may not offer a wide variety of mounting styles or options. Priced at $ 4.00-6.00 per square foot, mid-range boards come with reasonable warranties and meet minimum quality standards.
If you’re serious about quality, expect to pay $ 7.00- $ 12.00 per square foot for an upscale floor. Yes, it’s expensive, but it can be cost-effective in the long run.
High-end products have the thickest wear layer and the toughest cores. They can be re-polished several times and can last for 50 years or more. You can also choose the color, length and finish.
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And at this price, you will have no trouble finding the installation method that works best for your space.
Speaking of installation, let’s go over the differences between DIY and pro installation.
First, the DIY method. If you’re installing a click lock or floating floor, why not save money and not hire an expert?
If you’ve worked on a similar project, installing engineering floors may be easier than you think. There are excellent online tutorials that can guide you step by step. Sure, you may need a little creativity and motivation, but that bragging rights are priceless.
Not ready for adventure? You are not alone. There are several concrete reasons to hire a professional. Reason number one? Accountability.
If you make a mistake installing your engineered wood it can cost you thousands. Plus, it can even void your warranty. If the installer makes a mistake, they have to fix it.
Another benefit of hiring a professional is that you will get an experienced professional who knows what they are doing. If you have a complex floor plan or want to install engineered wood below the grade level, a professional can handle this easily.
They can measure humidity levels, decide which waterproof material to use, and keep costs down by purchasing the installed material at contractor prices.
All of these skills come at a price. Depending on your location and needs, you can expect offers ranging from $ 4.00-10.00 per square foot. If your contractor prefers hourly wages, the average rate is $ 30.00 per hour and higher.
Remember, this may or may not include extras such as disassembly or disposal. It’s a good idea to set up these services in advance, so that you and your contractor can negotiate terms before work begins.
Now that we’ve covered the costs, let’s explore quality.
First, let’s recap how processed wood is produced.
Most engineering floors are constructed of multiple layers. Manufacturers usually laminate three to five plywood sheets together to form the planks.
Often called cross-ply construction, this method ensures that the board is dimensionally stable. In addition, it counteracts the natural tendency of wood to expand and shrink with changes in temperature or humidity levels.
So, how many layers should you be looking for? Most experts suggest a total thickness of 5/8 ”.
The core should be made of nine to eleven layers of real plywood, not OSB or fiberboard. And for veneers, don’t settle for less than 3/16 inches thick.
This is the minimum requirement for a dimensionally stable and renewable engineered flooring product. There are manufacturers out there who may disagree, but unless they can show concrete evidence of the durability of floors over time, be careful with their claims.
In addition to thickness, you also need to determine what chemicals are used on the board, and whether or not the material is gassed. Remember to ask for proof that the product meets or exceeds air quality regulations.
Last, but not least, are the terms of the warranty. Today, most engineered floors are backed by a 50 year or limited lifetime warranty. Look for warranties that cover defects in construction and surface finish.
One more piece of advice.
Do your homework. Go to the internet and research the company and its products. Order free samples.
See what people are saying on online forums. Pay attention to common complaints. If something is wrong, there is usually a reason.
There are many leading engineered wood suppliers and manufacturers. You may have to look around, but if you are diligent, you will find companies you can count on to do business.
Happy Sticker Shock Alley? Good for you. Let’s continue.
Here is a list of online favorites to start your search for the perfect engineered hardwood product.
Engineered Wood Flooring Brand Review
Hurst Hardwoods is one of the few online retailers to offer both unfinished and finished engineered flooring. As well as the style and size you choose, you will also find a wide variety of wood species to choose from, including Tigerwood and Brazilian Teak.
Hurst Hardwoods has an outstanding reputation as one of the most trusted retailers in the business. If you do a little research, you will find that both homeowners and contractors are satisfied with Hurst’s products and services. The company is a family owned business and a member of the National Wood Flooring Association.
Prices are competitive, $ 3.00- $ 6.00 per square foot, and if you search a little you’ll find amazing deals on both exotic (like acacia) and domestic (like oak) hardwoods. Apart from great prices, the company offers fast and reliable delivery at a reasonable price.
Hurst offers a 30 year warranty on their product for home installation, but keep in mind, this warranty does not apply if installed over radiant radiation.
If you’re one of the many fans of the PBS show “This Old House,” you probably know his name, Jeff Hosking. Known as an expert in the world of hardwood floors, Mr. Hosking began his career as an apprentice in his family’s carpentry business. And although Hosking Hardwood has been selling hardwood floors since 1932, it wasn’t until 1997 that the company started offering products online.
Hosking carries engineered, solid hardwoods. This site offers quality products from well-known manufacturers as well as small independent factories. If you’re looking for a combination of wholesale pricing and knowledgeable sales assistance, you can head over to Hosking.
Their base range starts from as low as $ 3.00 per square foot. Although you can expect to pay $ 10.00 or more per square foot for their highest quality stock.
When you’re researching companies, make it a priority to check out their blogs. The company maintains an active social presence and regularly answers questions or comments.
Looking for environmentally friendly processed wood? Check out the engineering brand Tesoro Woods. The company makes green living easy, with FSC certification and no VOC products, suitable for any environment.
While you won’t find an unfinished board, Tesoro Woods carries a wide variety of colors and patterns to suit any style. The price edge of the product is at the top level of the spectrum, with most boards costing an average of $ 6.00- $ 8.00 per square foot.
What makes this company most attractive is that they use recycled wood from old building wood and industrial waste to make high-quality engineering boards. They are so confident in the product being produced that they offer a lifetime structural warranty on their boards.
If you’re interested in learning more about the brand, check out their website for a list of certified retailers.
Somerset Wood Flooring
Founded more than 20 years ago, Somerset Hardwood is one of North America’s leading suppliers of Appalachian Hardwoods. The company offers solid, engineered hardwoods in a variety of textures, tones and sizes.
All products are made in the US and adhere to strict quality guidelines.
Unfortunately, this manufacturer doesn’t sell outright, which means you’ll have to go to the nearest distributor for pricing – expect to pay $ 5.00- $ 6.00 per square foot. However, if you are looking for quality, the trip is worth it.
Regal Hardwoods specializes in providing consumers with affordable, hand-etched engineered flooring. Based in Texas, the company has eight flooring lines, all engineered with a sturdy birch core.
The American Backroads collection features weathered boards in floating varieties and spikes. Meanwhile the Valley Walla Walla line highlights a modern, artistic plank with a very gleaming finish.
Regardless of which Regal Collection you prefer, rest assured you are buying a superior product, which will set you back between $ 6.00 and $ 12.00 per square foot. This company has an excellent reputation and stands behind their floors with a lengthy finish and construction guarantee.
From The Forest
From The Forest is a small American manufacturer of engineered hardwoods based in Wisconsin. They offer multiple flooring lines, for the price conscious and upscale buyer.
Although some products feature fiberboard, don’t let that deter you. The company’s Selected Collection uses a nine-ply birch core. Sold in 15 ready-made models, the price for this line is close to $ 8.00 per square foot. They offer a limited lifetime warranty on their product when installed in a residential setting.
Even if you choose to buy elsewhere, it’s a good idea to take a look at the company’s website. They provide a detailed description of how to evaluate the tone, grade and grain pattern of engineered floors. Apart from guides, From The Forest also offers samples and discounts via email.
If you are looking for quality and comfort, Hallmark Floors offers both. This company sells a variety of processed wood in various sizes, styles and design patterns.
Hallmark wood products can be a little expensive. However, the quality is second to none. Their Organic 567 Series features a thick layer construction, sawn cut veneer, and a multi-layer oil coating that resists stains better than hard wax. Expect to pay between $ 8.00- $ 9.00 per square foot.
The company doesn’t sell outright, so if you’re looking to buy online, you might need to get creative. But beware, if you choose to buy online, you are voiding the manufacturer’s warranty, and Hallmark Floors also does not accept returns on materials purchased online.
If you can, take a trip to the local flooring shop. You can find a list of authorized resellers on the Hallmark website.
Harris Wood is a 120 year old American hardwood producer based in Johnson City, Tennessee. On top of solid hardwood products, the company offers a large selection of engineered hardwood flooring.
If you’re looking for click-lock engineered hardwoods, Harris Wood should be your first stop. In fact, this company carries over 19 types of snap-together flooring in several colors and fashionable finishes.
They are also one of the most affordable engineered hardwoods on the market, with standard tracks costing between $ 3.00 and $ 4.00 per square foot.
In the market for hand scratches? Harris help you. Look at their Contour lines.
At 6½ feet wide, this plank features an aluminum oxide finish, random lengths, and a wide range of mounting options.
Harris Wood Flooring offers a lifetime warranty for their engineered hardwoods when installed in residential. This includes factory defects and floor finishes.
However, if you’re willing to forget about the convenience of online ordering, you won’t be disappointed. Harris Wood is a longtime customer favorite. You can find countless reviews which attest to their quality and service.
Engineered Vs. Solid Hardwood
Years ago, “engineered hardwood vs hardwood” wouldn’t have been a topic of debate. Most homeowners and experts would advise against engineered floors, citing lower construction and durability reasons.
Oh, how times have changed. Nowadays, quality is not a factor. Technology has caught up with naysayers, and engineering floors are more attractive than ever.
So, what’s the main difference? Let’s discuss them one by one.
Solid wood planks are made of 100% hardwood, made with one whole piece. In contrast, engineered wood consists of several layers of plywood and thick veneered surfaces that are laminated and joined to form planks.
Which one is better? Only you can decide.
Engineered hardwoods have an edge in low-end classrooms and volatile climates.
After all, solid wood is the gold standard. It’s hard to argue with architects and designers over the centuries. If you are looking for unfinished wood or a wide selection of species and colors, solid flooring is paramount.
Let’s compare the installation options.
Solid hardwoods should be attached to the subfloor using a pneumatic nail gun. Engineered wood can be glued, nailed, or floated, even over concrete.
Next up: endurance.
Depending on the species, solid hardwoods can last for years without extensive surface damage. Most products are protected with a resilient coating for the highest scratch resistance.On the other hand, engineered products also have a resilient coating.
The main benefit of solid hardwood is its thickness. Over the life of your flooring, solid wood can be sanded and smoothed seven to eight times without damaging the planks.
In contrast, engineered hardwoods are lacking in the refurbishment department. Even the highest quality engineered flooring will show signs of wear after the second refresh.
Let’s cover our final differentiator: price.
To be honest, there isn’t much difference between engineering costs and solid hardwoods. Both range from $ 3.00- $ 10.00 per square foot depending on quality, species and location.
On the one hand, you can save money by installing an engineered floor yourself. But it depends on the level of expertise and the complexity of your job.
On the other hand, solid hardwoods have a longer life, which means if you are living in your home for the next 60 years, or hope to pass them on to an heir, solid hardwood is the obvious choice.
As far as the resale value, the price of processed wood is the same as solid wood. It’s not easy to see the difference. Technically, this is real wood flooring, and that’s all that matters. Most realtors or prospective home buyers will not think to question its authenticity.
Now that we have resolved the problem, it is time for us to solve it. Before we leave you, let’s recap what we’ve covered.
FAQs About Engineered Hardwood Floors
Engineered hardwood floors have a top layer of hardwood, which means they will scratch as easily as solid wood floors.
A few scratches can add character, and won’t damage the structural integrity of your floor. But if you’re looking for something that will stay pristine under normal use, processed wood has all of the same drawbacks as solid wood.
Also, while you can polish a solid wood floor a few times to get rid of scratches, you may only be able to do this a maximum of twice with engineered wood flooring.
Is Engineered Hardwood the Same As Laminate?
Engineered hardwood and laminate flooring are layered composite floors designed to look like solid hardwood, but this is where the similarities end.
Engineered wood flooring uses layers of wood that are coated together for water and heat resistance, and then covered with real wood veneers. Instead, laminate, overlay fiberboard and overlay a photographic image to make it look like hardwood. So, even though engineered hardwood flooring is real wood flooring, laminate just looks like wood.
This means engineered hardwood feels better under your feet and better for resale value because it is generally considered to be as good as solid hardwood. They also tend to be equally expensive, whereas laminates are much cheaper.
But you get what you pay for. Engineered hardwood floors should last more than twice as long as your average laminate alternative.
How long will engineered wood flooring last?
There are many types of engineered wood flooring. How long will they last depends on the quality of the planks being installed, where they are installed, and what kind of use and care they receive. Even so, it is not impossible to expect engineered wood floors to last at least 30 years.
This does not mean that they will remain in pristine condition. Engineered wood floors are just as prone to scratching, scraping and fading as solid wood floors. But the structural integrity of floors must last at least that long if properly installed and maintained.
Manufacturer’s warranties are usually valid for 30 years or for a limited lifetime in residential situations.
Can Engineered Hardwood Floors Get Wet?
Engineered hardwood floors are designed to be as waterproof as possible, and so much more so than solid wood floors. But, as much as possible processed wood floors should not be exposed to water.
Engineered wood flooring is made with a thin composite wood finish, which is specially designed to counteract the natural tendency of wood to warp when exposed to water. This means that they work better in a slightly damp location, such as a basement, than hardwoods.
But like solid wood flooring, engineered wood flooring will develop mold if it is constantly exposed to water.
Engineered wood floors are also usually covered with a waterproof coating, so they don’t stain immediately on contact with water. However, the water should be cleaned from the floor immediately. Left untreated, it will produce the same stain problems you will see on solid wood floors.
Is Engineered Hardwood Adding Value To Your Home?
Installing engineered hardwood floors will add as much value to your home as solid hardwood.
Engineered wood flooring is real wood, and many realtors will not really differentiate between engineered wood and solid wood when assessing your home.
While it doesn’t have as long a life as solid wood, it lasts longer than most flooring alternatives, and is considered a good investment when decorating your home.
What is Genuine Wood Engineering Flooring?
Yes, engineered wood flooring is real wood flooring.
They differ from solid wood, in that instead of being one complete wooden plank, the bottom layer of the planks is made of thin layers of wood that are formed together in an alternating pattern.
The planks are then covered with a thinner layer of solid wood so that it looks and feels like a solid wood floor.
What Is The Best Thickness For Engineered Hardwood Floors?
Engineered hardwood floors are typically ½ inch or ⅝ inch thick, although thinner and thicker varieties are also available. Both are suitable for residential installations.
You want the top layer of solid wood to be at least an inch thick so that it can be worn in a similar way to solid wood flooring and allows you to coat the floor at least once.
Engineered hardwoods can be an excellent choice for those who value the value of hardwood floors but crave the versatility of laminate or vinyl. No, this is not the cheapest floor covering on the market.
While connoisseurs of solid wood or bamboo may refuse the price, many renovators see this material as a smart long-term investment in their home. After all, when properly cared for, this floor will last for decades.
Plus, the engineered hardwood allows for a variety of mounting methods. You can attach them using glue, nails, or even a locking mechanism, which gives you the freedom to explore DIY solutions. As an added benefit, engineered hardwood passes straight through the concrete slab.
While there may be some drawbacks to this material, it’s worth taking a closer look. Unlike hardwood, engineered flooring is the perfect compromise for those who want a combination of timelessness and versatility.