When it was first invented in the 1960s, the engineered wood floor was a last-ditch replacement for its more popular solid wood cousin. Since then, it has transformed into one of the most popular flooring materials on the market today. What accounts for this phenomenal growth? It is the many benefits that this material offers. And 10 of them are listed below.
1: Authentic Look and Feel
When they were first introduced, engineered wood floors looked and felt different. The only wooden thing about them seemed to be their name. So not surprisingly, the building industry gave them a cold reception.
Wooden floor enthusiasts considered the new floors inferior to solid wood. Critics labeled them fakes. And skeptical homeowners shunned them. But that was then.
Thanks to advances in technology, engineered wood boards are indistinguishable from solid wood in looks, feel, and quality. They even surpass solid wood when it comes to durability.
2: Water Resistance
Regardless of how well protected they are solid, wood floors remain vulnerable to moisture. The moment water settles on them, it seeps into their fibers where it becomes a breeding medium for fungi. The fungi then feed on and ultimately destroy the wood.
Even if the moisture dries up before the fungi gain a foothold, the floors still suffer damage. As they repeatedly absorb and lose moisture, their boards expand, contract, and eventually go out of joint. And with time, gaps form in between them.
In contrast, engineered floorboards hardly expand, contract, or decompose in the presence of water. This trait makes them ideal for use in moisture-prone rooms, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
Unlike solid wood boards that comprise of one material, engineered boards have a composite structure. In the middle, they have multiple layers of plywood, all bonded together with industrial glue. And onto this plywood sandwich, manufacturers then glue a final layer of solid wood called lamella.
Once the glue sets, the resulting boards are incredibly wear resistant. As a result, Engineered Wooden Floors are suitable for use even in commercial premises. For after years of resisting heavy foot traffic, they rarely show signs of wear-and-tear.
4: Easy Sanding
Most artificial wooden floors have one flaw: They have a thin faux veneer of tough plastic covering them. Though beautiful, the delicate layer limits how much the floorboards can be sanded down.
Now, wooden floors must be sanded regularly to remove accumulated dirt, stains, and scratches. This way, they retain their visual appeal. However, the sanding is only possible if a floor has a thick veneer.
And this is where engineered floorboards stand out. Their solid wood lamella allows them to be sanded multiple times throughout their usable life.
5: Easy Finishing
Sanding has a downside to it. Since it exposes the underlying layers of wood, it leaves a floor susceptible to water, insects, and weather damage. For that reason, alone it is never enough.
After every sanding, a thick layer of protective finish must be applied to the exposed surface. And although this means extra work, it offers a chance to change the look of a floor because finishes come in many colors and sheens.
6: More Variety
Solid wood floors are not known for their variety. Granted, they come in a different species, finishes, and grades. But they offer only so many choices.
For some homeowners, this is often enough. As long as they have a decent floor, they are content. But to the more adventurous ones, this lack of choice can be limiting.
So they turn to engineered floorboards, which offer more variety than their solid wood counterparts. Besides having different species, finishes, and grades, they also come in a wide range of sizes, coatings, and styles.
7: More Sizes
Generally, solid wood floorboards come in a standard size that is 3/4 inch thick and about 2 1/4 inches wide. And although thinner, narrower gauges exist, they are rare and not as popular. As for the length, solid planks range from 1 to 7 feet. But that is it.
In comparison, engineered floorboards come in many thicknesses, widths, and lengths. For instance, they can be 1/4 inch thin or 33/32 inch thick. Their width can vary from 2 1/4 inches to 7 inches wide. The lengths are random and suited to individual preference.
8: Prefabricated Designs
Wooden floors have remained popular throughout history for one reason. They can be laid out in many visually appealing styles, such as parquet, chevron, and strip. Unfortunately, designing each style and setting it out is a complex process that takes a lot of time and effort.
In fact, few homeowners can undertake such a difficult task without outside help. Knowing this, manufacturers now produce engineered boards that have been pre-arranged into complex designs and styles.
9: Easy Installation
Designing and setting out a wooden floor is not the only difficulty that faces homeowners. The other is installing the flooring. As a general rule, solid wooden floorboards must be placed one at a time by hand.
So if the floor has a simple design, installing the boards is relatively easy. But if the design involves complex patterns, the installation turns into a labor-intensive and time-consuming affair. To overcome this hurdle, engineered floors rely on prefabrication.
Although it was meant to ease the design of complex floor styles, a prefabricated floor panel also solves the problem of installation. For starters, it is easier to lay than individual boards. And, it now includes click-on fasteners that eliminate the need for nails.
Engineered floors are made from more than one material and go through a complex manufacturing process. Even so, they do not cost a fortune, thanks to low installation costs.
For example, a typical installation costs anywhere from $3 to $14 per square foot. In contrast, solid wood costs between $8 and $15. So, in fact, engineered flooring costs less than the real thing.
Engineered wooden floors have many advantages. Besides having an authentic look and feel, they are tough, durable, and easy to work. And they come in a wide range of sizes, grades, and finishes. Furthermore, prefabrication makes them easy to install. But best of all, they are cheaper than solid wood floors.