Often confused with laminate, vinyl, or veneer flooring, engineered wood flooring is currently one of the most popular solutions for consumers seeking wood flooring in their home. In contrast to laminate and vinyl, engineered wood flooring actually comprises of two or more layers of real wood, with the top layer being the visible material, and the bottom layer providing the stability and support. Engineered wood flooring has grown enormously in popularity due to being typically cheaper to purchase and install than solid wood flooring, whilst maintaining an almost identical quality and feel.
One consideration to make when considering purchasing engineered wood flooring is that it is not suitable for installation in bathrooms or utility areas due to the heavy amount of moisture that the flooring would be subject to. It is however, easy to install using either a click, or a tongue in groove system, and nowadays is available in many different high-quality styles and grades.
Before you purchase your engineered wood flooring solution, there are a number of useful things to consider. First of all, a very important consideration to make is the grade that the flooring is given by its manufacturers. The grade refers to the quality of the wood throughout its layers. For example, a board awarded the grade of AB will typically have a top layer of top quality wood (A grade), which is visible to the user, and a slightly lesser quality layer (B grade) which will provide stability to the plank and not be visible to the consumer. Generally speaking, grade A – the highest grade – should be defect-free, or as close to it as possible, and any splits or small knots in the wood should be plugged or repaired with synthetic filler. As you progress through the grades of engineered wood flooring (the lowest being D), the quality will reduce somewhat, and the number of natural knots, splits and colour variations will increase. A ‘D grade’ board will most likely not have had any repairs or sanding done to it, as is considered as more suitable for back surfaces that are not visible.
Also important to consider when purchasing engineered wood flooring is the board size and the type of finish applied to the wood. Board sizes can vary significantly, and can make a big difference for some who is looking for a ‘chunkier’ aesthetic, or on the other extreme, for someone seeking a finer, more tailored look to their flooring. Be sure to take into account the board size and the quantity of boards in a pack when you come to choosing a type, since this will affect the overall price of the project. It is easily to think a certain board is better value per-pack without realising that it is considerably narrower and that each pack contains fewer boards, which would then necessitate more packs to cover your area.
Equally, when choosing a finish for your engineered wood flooring, make sure to choose carefully so that you are not disappointed by the result, and you achieve the look you are going for. Popular finishes include ‘Clear UV Lacquered’, ‘Handscraped’, and ‘Stained’, and are fairly self-explanatory in their respective qualities. A handscraped board will offer more of a rustic, natural quality, while a clear UV lacquer will provide a more modern, light feel. Choosing a finish goes hand-in-hand with choosing a décor style for your flooring, and both options should complement the other. As well as differing types of wood offering differing colour tones and grains, also bear in mind that different types of wood may be considered stronger or possess different qualities than others. Some of the most popular types of wood used in engineered wood flooring include oak, bamboo, walnut, ash and beech.
By Fernando Frambuesa
Topps Tile’s offers a wide range of high-quality engineered wood flooring, and offer expert advice on how to install and maintain your floor.