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Is engineered wood better than real wood?

Lodge Oak natural wood flooring in a hallway and stairs

Is engineered wood better than real wood?
Engineered wood flooring is better than solid wood flooring when it comes to durability. Real wood is easily affected by temperature changes and moisture, and only the top layer of an engineered plank is solid wood, the rest of the plank consists of materials such as plywood and are much more resilient. The most durable engineered wood flooring products are those with the least amount of solid wood in them. It is because of this increased durability that the majority of wood flooring sold in recent years is engineered wood flooring. Engineered wood floors are also easier to install as they can be floated on underlay and are available with click joining mechanisms. Solid wood floors always have to be fully bonded (glued) to the subfloor and are only available with tongue and groove joining mechanisms.

Solid wood flooring (real wood) is better than engineered wood flooring when it comes to longevity because it can be sanded down more times. The purpose of sanding wood floors is to reveal fresh layers underneath. Only the top layer of engineered planks is real wood which can be used for the surface, which means there is a limited number of times it can be sanded down before the real wood layer is worn away and the flooring needs replacing. The entirety of solid wood flooring planks is real wood, which means it can be sanded down more times revealing fresh layers each time and every layer can be used for the surface. A well looked after and correctly installed solid wood floor can last for decades.

What lasts longer hardwood or laminate?
Providing it has been installed and maintained correctly hardwood flooring should last longer than laminate. This is because wood flooring tends to be much thicker and it can be sanded down. Laminate cannot be sanded down. Once the surface of laminate flooring has become badly damaged either the whole plank or the whole floor needs to be replaced. Laminate repair kits are available but aren’t suitable for significant damage.

Replacing damaged planks is a relatively arduous task as each plank is connected to the next by the click joining mechanism. To replace a single plank, multiple planks need to be disconnected from each other, they then need to be reconnected with the replacement plank and reinstalled. This task will also require the skirting’s or scotia to be removed and put back once all is complete. Whilst real wood usually lasts longer, laminate is so much cheaper than real wood it is possible to purchase multiple new laminate floors for the price of one real wood floor depending on the products chosen.

What thickness of wood flooring is best?
In most cases the thicker wood flooring is the stronger and more expensive it is. A 20mm thick plank of wood is going to be a lot stronger than a 14mm plank. Thicker planks can also be sanded down more times which extends the expected lifespan of the floor giving it more value. Thicker planks mean more material used which means more cost and higher prices. 

The best thickness wood flooring can also simply be the thickness that fits in the space that is available for flooring. If the subfloor is 20mm below a doorway for example, and you add underlay of 3mm, a 20mm thick wood floor will not fit properly. Underfloor heating also affects how thick flooring can be as it takes up space under the flooring.

Find out Which flooring is suitable for underfloor heating.

Wood flooring is available in many different thicknesses and each will be ideal for different situations. When looking for a scratch resistant wood flooring product it is better to focus on the wear layer because the surface of both engineered and solid wood flooring are both solid wood flooring and will therefore both scratch as easy as each other. When looking for the most durable hardwood floors for pets an engineered wood floor with a good wear layer would be a smart choice. Engineered because it is better with moisture than solid wood, and a good wear layer so the floor can be sanded back multiple times to remove any scratches.

Our Mantra Oak is a Stunning Herringbone Engineered Wood Floor with 18mm thick planks

What are the disadvantages of hardwood flooring?

The disadvantages of hardwood flooring are;
• Purchase costs are usually higher than alternatives
• Installation costs are usually higher than alternatives
• High susceptibility to moisture
• High susceptibility to temperature changes
• It can be noisy to walk on
• It can be easily scratched

The susceptibility to moisture and temperature changes are the disadvantages that make hardwood flooring not the best option for kitchen and bathroom areas. The most durable flooring for kitchen and bathroom areas are stone tiles and vinyl flooring which are also the most durable waterproof flooring types.

How long should wood floor sit in house before installing?
It is important to follow the manufactures guidelines for each individual product. Most manufactures recommend that wood flooring is left in the installation area for at least 72 hours to acclimatise. When acclimatising flooring it is essential to ensure that the room is dry, including any screed, cement or plaster that may have been recently installed. The humidity of the room should be 45%-65% and the temperature should be between 18-24 Celsius. The planks should be left inside the boxes but the ends of the boxes should be opened to help air circulate the planks during the acclimatisation process. This does not apply to only low quality wood flooring, even when the best wood for flooring has been used it is essential to allow it to acclimatise as wood is a natural product that reacts to the environment.

Is it better to glue or float an engineered wood floor?
Fully bonding wood flooring is the most secure installation method. Once the planks have been glued together and to the subfloor, the floor is secured in place and cannot move. This is especially important with wood flooring because it expands and contracts with changes in ambient moisture and temperature. A floated wood floor is not secured in place and is therefore able to move with changes in moisture and temperature.

Regardless of whether a wood floor is glued down or floated an expansion gap is required between the wood flooring and fixed objects such as walls. When an insufficient expansion gap has been left the wood flooring can expand and press up against the walls. When the pressure becomes too great the joining mechanisms of the planks can fail and the planks can lift at the joins. When this happens the flooring often needs to be replaced. Fully bonding wood flooring will not stop this from happening but it does reduce the probability of it happening. A correctly installed engineered wood floor can be floated with no issues at all. A solid wood floor always needs to be fully bonded, underlay is not suitable for solid wood flooring.

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