Anatomy of an Engineered Wood Floor
The first engineered wood floors were created in the 1960’s. Today, engineered wood flooring is quickly becoming an industry staple for residential and commercial applications. Unlike solid wood flooring, which is made of just one solid piece of wood engineered wood flooring is made up of several layers of wood.
Each engineered floor is designed slightly different depending on the manufacturing, but they each have the same general anatomy:
- Layer 1: Sealer & Wear Layer – Ideally you will order prefinished flooring for your project, and it will come with the top coat or sealer already applied. This sealer provides protection from traffic, wear and stains. Most flooring is finished with a product called polyurethane or aluminum oxide. Be sure to review the maintenance and care guide for your new floor so you know how to best maintain your floor and keep it looking beautiful.
- Layer 2: Stain / Color – You can choose from a variety of colors for your engineered flooring to get just the right look. Most people order their flooring prefinished so you don’t have to stain or finish your floor once it is installed. This will save a lot of time and money. Most installers prefer to install a prefinished floor too, just make sure the floor is protected after installation.
- Layer 3: Wood Layer / Veneer – made of real wood, varies in thickness by manufacturer. This real wood top layer varies in thickness depending on the manufacturer. This solid top layer is glued to a backing that is made up of multiple thin layers of solid wood or composite material. This top layer of wood is going to give the floor its appearance – before the stain and color is applied. The wood you choose will determine the natural color, grain, character or knots in the floor.
- Layer 4: Core / Backing – The backing of engineered wood flooring is usually made of multiple thin layers of solid wood or composite wood backing like baltic birch. This backing is usually 3-ply to 11-ply thick or 3mm – 7 mm thick in total. It does not have stress reliefs like solid wood flooring. You won’t see any part of this once the floor is installed. The only purpose of this layer is to enhance the stability of the floor.
The overall thickness of engineered flooring can vary from 3/8” to ¾” thick. You’ll want to verify how thick the wood layer is on the flooring, as this can be an indication of the floor’s life cycle. If your floor is thinner you won’t be able to sand and refinish it which means it will really only last for a few years. You can verify the thickness of the wood layer with a sample and be sure to ask about the care and maintenance for your new floor.
You’ll also want to make sure that the flooring is made from tongue & groove, and in some cases, end matching as well, depending on how the flooring will be installed. It is important to keep in mind that engineered wood flooring is constructed using multiple layers of material with the use of adhesive and glue. Those with chemical sensitivities should confirm the chemical composition of the adhesive to ensure it does not negatively impact your health or well-being.
Engineered flooring has become an industry favorite for homeowners and trade alike. Homeowners love that Engineered flooring can have an almost indistinguishable appearance to solid wood flooring. Contractors and installers love that engineered wood flooring is made up of multiple layers of wood, instead of one solid piece. This makes the flooring more stable, especially if you want to install wood flooring in other specialty installations like commercial spaces, high traffic areas, waterfront installations, or installation to slab or radiant heat.
Are you getting ready to install a new floor, are you trying to decide between a solid floor or an engineered floor? Give us a call at Next Day Floors. Our flooring specialists can talk with you by phone, in person at one of our showrooms, or in the convenience of your home to give you a consultation and help you choose the best floor.