Benefits and popularity of engineered wood flooring
Aashish Poojari, Director, Havwoods India, answers some pertinent questions about the popular flooring choice
In India, the trend of laying wooden flooring is getting popular at a brisk pace. More and more people are now open to the idea of having wood floors in residences, offices and commercial spaces. There of course, are skeptics and critics who have their reservations regarding maintenance and care of wooden flooring. With better understanding and simple techniques, one can easily bypass these concerns.
There are two types of wood flooring, Solid Wood & Engineered Wood. Solid wood flooring is from a single piece of timber - usually hardwood, and engineered wood flooring is a engineered timber board which consists of more than one layer.
Engineered wood flooring is a superb alternative to solid wood floors. In fact, once laid it looks identical. It also offers exactly the same health benefits, and will add just as much value to the home, and last equally well. And it offers a number of significant advantages, too, since it is far more stable.
Why is an engineered wood floor so stable?
Wood is hygroscopic. This means that it absorbs moisture. So when the surrounding humidity levels change, either due to natural changes in the climate or through the use of artificial aids like heating or air conditioning, it can swell or shrink. This can result in planks cupping or warping, or gaps opening up between them.
Engineered wood sounds unnatural, but actually, it simply means boards made from multiple layers of timber instead of from a single layer. The top layer, known as the wear layer or lamella, is usually hardwood and, more often than not, oak. The base layers are usually softwood or multi-layered plywood, although occasionally they may be yet more layers of hardwood. All the layers are bonded together so that the grain of each one runs at right angles to that of the layer on either side, making it virtually impossible for the board to swell or shrink.
Engineered wood flooring is, quite simply, hardwood flooring where the boards consist of more than one layer. It looks and feels just like a traditional wooden floor because the top layer is real solid hardwood, and it is perfect for use as paneling or even joinery projects like doors and tabletops as well as for floors. What's more, it offers all the benefits of a traditional wooden floor, plus a significant number of other benefits all of its own.
Are there other advantages to engineered wood flooring?
Engineered wood flooring is a superb alternative to a solid timber floor, but it's not necessarily cheaper.
In addition to a better long-term fit, exceptional stability in a timber board has a number of advantages. Firstly, it means that much wider planks may be produced: 180mm wide engineered planks are quite standard; 260mm widths are not unusual. Also, it means that most engineered wood boards can be fitted over underfloor heating, unlike the majority of solid wood. Engineered wood boards offer alternative, easier methods of installation. They also make far more efficient use of the slower growing lamella layer timbers like oak and walnut.
The top layer of solid wood on an engineered board may be anything from 2 to 6mm thick. Obviously, the thicker the layer of solid wood the more times it may be sanded and refinished to remove any signs of wear; a 6mm wear layer is similar to the depth above the tongue in a traditional, solid wood tongue and groove plank.
Many wood flooring products, both solid and engineered, are now available pre-finished. This means that many hundreds of different effects can be achieved through techniques like smoking, sawing, brushing and planning, as well as the use of stains and oils, and it reduces the need to use exotic, often endangered species to achieve specific effects. Indeed, at Havwoods, over 90% of our product offering is oak. Not only does pre-finishing offer far greater aesthetic choice, pre-finished wood is much quicker and easier to install and avoids any ‘surprises’ on site.
If you want the look and feel of real wood in quality flooring, but are on a really tight budget, a veneer could well be the perfect answer. A veneer uses a very thin layer of real wood, usually bonded to a core of some type of composite timber product like fibreboard. The 9mm thick planks in our PurePlank range are a superb example of an excellent veneered product, with an integral cork backing for improved thermal and acoustic insulation and a prime grade timber surface protected by eight layers of UV cured matt lacquer. Our Italian Collection and Venture Plank Collection also host a variety of options with colours, shades and finishes.