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Engineered Wood Flooring

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Hardwood floors are often considered the best and most beautiful option for any home or office,

but they aren’t always the best fit for your needs or your budget. If you’re looking for an alternative that doesn’t feel like a compromise, look into engineered wood flooring! With Gateway Design & Home, you can find the perfect flooring options for your next project.

What Is Engineered Wood?

Your first question about this hardwood floor alternative is likely: what is engineered wood? The Gateway Design & Home team is here to help.

Instead of one plank of solid hardwood, engineered wood is made in layers. The top layer that you walk on is a veneer of real wood — which is why you may see it labeled as “real wood floors” alongside solid hardwood. Beneath that veneer layer, however, is a core often made of plywood.

The core of engineered wood flooring contains multiple layers of planks positioned in different directions. The criss-cross construction is the main factor contributing to the strength and durability of engineered wood flooring. The planks of this inner layer are made of wood, but it isn’t necessarily the same type or species of wood used in the veneer layer. In fact, these inner materials are often recycled, which contributes to the environmentally friendly aspect of engineered wood flooring.

Now that you have a better understanding of what you’re looking at when you consider engineered wood flooring, it’s time to get into the pros and cons! Keep reading to learn more about why engineered wood may be the perfect solution for your project.

Advantages of Engineered Wood Flooring

There are a number of reasons why engineered wood flooring should be on your list, even if cost isn’t your biggest concern. Overall, it’s a sturdy, durable, and beautiful material that can elevate any space. At Gateway Design & Home, we’re familiar with all the perks and drawbacks of our flooring options, and we can help you make the best decision for your needs. Contact us today to schedule a personal consultation.

Cost

The greatest draw of engineered wood for most people is its comparatively low cost. Solid hardwood is a big investment — engineered wood gives you the opportunity to get the same look without the big price tag. Not only can the material itself be cheaper than solid hardwood, but the installation is often easier and therefore more affordable, which we will discuss in a moment.

Water Resistance

Solid hardwood is one of the most vulnerable materials to moisture and humidity. Thanks to its construction, engineered wood is a much better contender. In some cases, it can even be installed “below grade” — in rooms below floor level.. Engineered wood flooring also performs much better when exposed to humidity, the crossed planks in its core reducing warping and expansion.

Installation

Engineered wood flooring is one of the more versatile and forgiving materials when it comes to installation. For one, as we already mentioned, it has a wider application than solid hardwood and can be installed in low-moisture basements or powder rooms.

Engineered wood also doesn’t require a subfloor. It can be installed over virtually any existing floors – including concrete but excluding carpet – which makes it a great option for condominiums, townhouses, or other properties with slab concrete floors. It can be nailed or glued down. It can also be installed as a floating floor — the planks locked together like a jigsaw puzzle without any attachment to the floor beneath.

Especially if you choose to install your engineered wood flooring as a floating floor, it can be an affordable and even DIY-friendly installation option. You add to your cost savings and you can avoid any discrepancies in height that may be caused by a subfloor and thick solid hardwood planks.

Durability

Another draw of engineered wood is its durability. It is a high-performance material that stands up relatively well to moisture and wear and tear. The criss-crossed boards at its core offer strength and stability, and you can invest in wider planks without worrying too much about expansion.

Does engineered wood flooring sound like the choice for you? Contact a member of the Gateway Design & Home team! We can help narrow down your choices and affirm whether or not engineered wood meets all your needs and expectations. Get in touch today, or keep reading to learn more about this aesthetically pleasing and budget-friendly material.

Disadvantages of Engineered Wood Flooring

No material is perfect, and there are some downsides of engineered wood flooring you should consider before making a commitment. If you have any concerns, get in touch with the Gateway Design & Home team, and we’ll help put your mind at ease or find a better option for your project. We’ll find the solution together!

Choice

While engineered wood flooring does offer a beautiful surface for less, you may not always be able to find what you’re looking for in our collection. Engineered wood comes in more limited options than solid hardwood or laminate flooring, so you may not be able to find the unique species or color you’ve been looking for. If you’re seeking the classic hardwood look, however, you’ll likely be able to find something you love among the available varieties of engineered wood.

Moisture

On the spectrum of flooring types, engineered wood flooring still ranks low for moisture resistance. It performs better than solid hardwood, but it still should not be exposed to high levels of liquid. Laminate, tile, or vinyl flooring are all better choices for splash zones or flooding-prone spaces like full bathrooms or basements. There are advances and innovations being made in the construction of engineered wood flooring, and you may be able to access options like a core of waterproof stone plastic composite (SPC) in the future.

Maintenance

Another weakness of engineered wood flooring is its vulnerability to scratching. Because the veneer layer under your feet is real wood, and the options of what species of wood used are limited, you may be facing a scratched and dented floor in the future without the option of sanding and refinishing.

The veneer layer of engineered wood planks is relatively thin, which means it can’t be maintained like solid hardwood. Depending on the precise flooring you choose for your home or office, there is a small possibility that you may be able to sand and refinish your floors once or twice, but it will have to be done by an experienced professional. If you install your engineered wood as a floating floor, you won’t have the option of sanding your floors at all, because it won’t be stable enough to handle the weight of the sanding machines.

There are strong finishing options to help your floors last longer, and beyond its potential vulnerability to pet claws and dropped items with sharp corners, engineered wood is an easy material to keep clean. You can sweep and carefully mop or vacuum to get rid of any debris, and with the right care, your engineered wood floors may last almost as long as solid hardwood!

How Engineered Wood Compares

Whether you’re searching for the look of beautiful floors or a budget-friendly alternative to hardwood, engineered wood flooring certainly isn’t the only option. Here, we’ll break down how engineered wood compares to its two biggest competitors: solid hardwood and laminate wood flooring. At Gateway Design & Home, we’ll help you weigh all your flooring options to ensure you find the perfect solution. Explore what else we have to offer, and contact us today for our support throughout your flooring project!

Engineered Wood vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring

As we discussed earlier, engineered wood flooring is made with a veneer layer of real wood and a core of criss-crossed planks of other wood materials. Solid hardwood, on the other hand, is made of one plank of one type of wood. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Beauty

Most people seek out wood flooring because of the classic beauty it can add to their home or business. It’s hard to beat the appeal of such a warm, versatile natural material. That said, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between solid hardwood planks and engineered wood flooring just by looking at it, since engineered wood is veneered with real wood. The one advantage of solid hardwood when it comes to looks is variety — you are likely to find a wider range of wood species, colors, and stain options for solid hardwood than engineered wood flooring.

Cost

In some situations, the material cost of engineered wood and solid hardwood may be comparable. However, engineered wood tends to cost less upfront and the option of a low-maintenance installation often lowers the overall cost. If you are worried about sticking to a budget, then engineered wood flooring is the better candidate.

Durability

While there are some species of wood that fall very high on the Janka Hardness Scale, it is still more vulnerable to scratches, dents, and water damage than materials like stone or ceramic tile. Engineered wood and hardwood floors are equally vulnerable to scratches, as the material facing the wear and tear of everyday traffic is natural wood in both cases. However, the cross-laid core of engineered wood flooring gives it a stronger resistance to moisture damage as well as as a resistance to warping, expansion, or contraction when exposed to humidity.

Installation

There aren’t many materials that come with as many installation requirements as solid hardwood. Tile is likely the only fussier flooring type. Solid hardwood requires a subfloor and exacting methods for attaching it to said subfloor, which means its installation is one of the most DIY-unfriendly options. It also has strict requirements regarding what materials it is installed over — its vulnerability to moisture means slab concrete floors are a no-no.

Engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, has much more flexibility when it comes to installation. It can be attached to a subfloor and glued or nailed down like solid hardwood, or the planks can be assembled together and installed as a floating floor over a wide range of materials. If you’re looking to save money on installation labor costs, you want to install your new floors yourself, or all of the above, then engineered wood is the way to go.

Maintenance

Both types of wood floors are relatively easy to clean on a regular basis. Sweeping or careful vacuuming can easily get rid of dust and other debris. You can even — carefully — use a damp mop for spills. In both cases, you should address liquid spills as quickly as you can to avoid moisture damage or staining, although engineered wood flooring should stand up better to any moisture that attempts to leak between boards and wreak havoc below.

When it comes to long-term maintenance, solid hardwood has a clear advantage. Even if your wood flooring sustains scratches, dents, or stain damage, there is still the saving grace of sanding and refinishing. The thick planks of solid hardwood can be sanded down and refinished to create a new layer of fresh floor for you to enjoy, which is a large reason why wood floors look so beautiful for so many years. Engineered wood floors, more often than not, can’t be treated the same way, and so any damage will have to be addressed in completely new floors down the road.

Engineered Wood vs. Laminate Wood Flooring

Laminate wood flooring is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to solid hardwood — and, therefore, engineered wood — thanks to advances in printing technology. Laminate flooring is made of several layers: a strong base layer, a layer of wood or bonded wood particles, a printed image layer, and a protective wear layer on top. The photographic layer can be made to mimic virtually any material, but it is most often used to copy the look of wood floors.

Beauty

The advantage of laminate’s photographic layer is that it can mimic virtually any material. While the options are virtually endless, laminate is most often made to look like wood floors, and it can copy any color or species that can be photographed. Thanks to this versatility, laminate offers more options than engineered wood.

However, a photographed wood pattern can seem repetitive when seen in the big-picture scope of an entire room. Engineered wood, on the other hand, is made with a layer of real wood, and therefore offers the naturally shifting pattern you would see with solid hardwood floors. You still have some flexibility with wood species and stains, but nothing can compare to the endless possibilities of laminate’s picture layer.

Cost

Engineered wood flooring may be a more affordable alternative to solid hardwood, but it’s still often more expensive than laminate flooring. Laminate has long been thought of as a “cheap” material in both looks and cost, but its reputation is evolving as it makes a name for itself as a very affordable and very beautiful flooring option.

Durability

Laminate flooring is hard to beat when it comes to durability. Its layered construction makes it resistant to scratches, dents, stains, and water damage. Engineered wood does perform better than solid hardwood in several cases, but it can’t compare to the strong, virtually waterproof construction of laminate.

Installation

Engineered wood flooring and laminate both offer pretty simple and straightforward installation options. Neither material requires a subfloor, and both can be assembled in a fashion similar to a click-and-lock puzzle. Both are good options if you’re considering handling the installation yourself. Neither laminate nor engineered wood are effectively waterproof, so neither should be installed in rooms like full bathrooms. However, laminate is a better and more moisture-resistant option if you’re looking at below-grade spaces like basements.

Maintenance

As we mentioned, laminate wood flooring can take a lot of abuse, which means it doesn’t necessarily need as much ongoing care as engineered wood. Both are easy to clean on a regular basis, although laminate is not as vulnerable to scratches from a vacuum or liquid damage from a mop. The downside of either material is that there are few to no options when it comes to long-term care. Neither can be sanded and refinished to give it new life like solid hardwood can be.

Does engineered wood meet your needs where it counts? Take the next step in your flooring project by contacting Gateway Design & Home for a personal consultation! We’ll welcome you into our Loveland showroom and help you find the exact color, style, and material you’ve been looking for to upgrade your home or office.

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