The basic characteristic of engineered wood that is different from solid hardwood is that engineered wood is composite with layers of different types of wood, as opposed to solid hardwood which is composed of the same homogenous wood molecules throughout.
Engineered Wood Flooring can be composed of multiple layers of ply some even going up to 12 different layers. They are cross layered, then glued and compressed together to yield a strong fused board. This bonded core board is what makes engineered wood flooring vastly different from solid wood flooring. The sheets of core board are sized down to plank width for floors and the tongue and groove feature is crafted into the side of the plank. The durability and strength of the board is directly proportional to the number of layers of ply it is composed from. The basic board is composed of 3 layers – a single core board, a base layer and a real wood top layer or lamella. But this is the lowest strength engineered wood and therefore the cheapest. The most significant complaint with this type of board is that the area with the tongue and groove feature quickly loses its rigidity due to stress and so the whole flooring can lose its compactness.
This is why you must plan for multi-layered boards (more than 4 or 5 layers), even if
your budget is small, as you will avoid loss later on and re-investment will have to be
made on the repeat installation.
The core board of engineered wood is fabricated by bonding many layers of ply
together. The top layer is specially fabricated to give the planking the look and texture of real solid hardwood. In reality it is a very thin veneer of hardwood.
The top layer of solid wood for engineered wood flooring is derived by one of two methods
– slicing or sawing
where the tree trunk is cut through its cross section to create a sliced veneer
– rotary cutting
where the veneer is sheared off as a a thin layer from right around the tree trunk to create a veneer sheet.
These veneers are bonded onto the core board to apply a realistic solid wood
appearance to what is otherwise a very coarse texture. A sliced or sawn veneer can be extricated in thicker layers than a rotary cut veneer. A sliced or sawn veneer has a more organic wood, but a rotary cut can add flair with the dramatic grain finish.
Engineered wood flooring is vaunted for its stability as flooring material. This stability is the result of the strength of the core board. The ‘sandwich structure ‘of engineered wood flooring planks efficiently handles the shear stress on the board from expansion and contraction. The core board distributes the stress between the different layers. So the stronger the core board the more integrated the wooden plank is. The stability of the floor is evident in the ability of the floor to retain its form and strength when conditions vary.
Bathrooms and kitchens tend to harbour more moisture in the floor and other rooms with large windows can experience extreme temperature variations. The expansion of solid woods can significantly affect the installation of the floor if compensatory architecture is not included in the carpentry. But this called for a level of skill and labour hours that can make the project very costly. On the other hand, engineered wood flooring compensates for the shear forces of this expansion in its very composition. This leaves very little scope for the floor to ‘cup’ or ‘bow’. Only extreme factors can really cause damage to engineered wood flooring.
How is Wood Flooring Installed?
There are generally three basic methods to install wooden flooring:
- nail-down planking
- glue-down planking &
- click and lock mechanisms
Your choice of flooring installation among these three will depend on
- the subfloor
- the budget,
- lifestyle &
- the type of wood flooring you select.
Solid hardwood flooring installation calls for just nailing down the planks. Skilled carpenters allow for the expansion and contraction effect with suitable compensatory mechanisms.
Tongue and groove engineered flooring is slid together and clicked into place. Or the planks are completely glued down.
Tips to remember when installing hardwood floors
- Try to begin installing from the straightest, longest wall and install the flooring perpendicular to the floor joists.
- Calculate for sufficient material to be handy for the flooring for your space. Most manufacturers recommend a standard cutting/ordering allowance of 5 percent,
and a culling allowance up to an additional 10 percent if installed on a diagonal surface. Hardwood is sold in full case quantities, so round up when ordering.
- Install on or above grade.
- Let hardwood acclimate in the room you’re installing it in for five days prior to installation. The recommended temperature of the room should be 65 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and recommended humidity levels should be 30 to 55 percent.
- Stack flooring log-cabin style or just spread it around the room, but not directly on concrete.
- Most 3/4-inch solid hardwood flooring can be installed using nails or staples over a wood subfloor. Most engineered flooring can be installed using staples, full spread adhesive or a floating method over an approved subfloor.
- Make sure you have a sturdy subfloor: 3/4-inch CDX plywood is preferred and 3/4-inch OSB is acceptable. Minimum 5/8-inch CDX existing wood floor or tongue
and groove flooring is also acceptable.
- Often a floor will meet an obstruction such as a fireplace or counter. If so, miter boards to create a border that frames the obstruction. Position the boards so the tongue or groove mates with the rest of the floorboards. Cut off the tongue if it is on the edge that meets the obstruction. Install the rest of the floor as you normally would, and fit the pieces into the frame as you go.
- Safety is of prime concern. Be sure to use work gloves and knee pads to make installation safer and more comfortable.
- While many install methods are straightforward, some methods, such as nail-
down and glue-down may require professional hardwood flooring installation,
depending on your skill and comfort levels.
Another important stage for hardwood flooring installation is to prep the space.
How much does Wood Flooring Cost?
In common terms, flooring professionals charge between $6 and $12 per square foot, and high-end jobs can run as high as $13 to $25 or more. On average, approximately 50 percent to 75 percent of the project budget will go to materials and the rest to labor costs. The national average in the US is reported to be about $4500.Hardwood flooring costs can vary according to the type of wood, the width of the planks, the stain chosen, the type of adhesive, and the flooring style.