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What are the Different Types of Engineered Wood Floors?

By Jessica Hobby
Updated May 16, 2024
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Engineered wood floors are a popular option for people who want to have wood floors installed in their homes. Primarily created to increase resistance to moisture through increased dimensional stability, engineered wood floors share characteristics of traditional hardwood floors and laminate floors or composite floors. Although many things about engineered wood floors will vary, the two main types of engineered wood are prefinished and unfinished wood floors. Before looking at the two different types of floors, it is important to understand how engineered wood floors are built and the different properties they have.

Engineered wood is a man-made wood product which has a core made of five to nine layers, or plies, of wood laminated together in a cross-ply construction. The plies are alternately layered in the opposite direction to increase dimensional stability, causing engineered wood to be more moisture resistant that traditional hardwood.

On the top of the core of engineered hardwood, there is a wear layer that is a solid wood veneer. The wear layer will usually determine the price and quality of the engineered wood floors that are being installed. Wear layers may be as thin as 1/12 of an inch (.21 cm) to ½ of an inch (1.27 cm). Wear layers that are at least 1/8 of an inch (.32 cm) allow for the wood to be refinished at least once if not more.

Similar to laminate flooring, engineered wood floors are constructed with a tongue and groove system that allows for easier installation. Engineered floors can be nailed or stapled down as traditional hardwood floors or glued down in the case of covering a cement floor in a basement. In some cases, engineered wood flooring is floated similar to laminate flooring.

The first type of engineered wood flooring, unfinished wood, allows the customer to have some of the same benefits as traditional hardwood. The wood floor can be stained to whatever color is chosen and finished with a polyurethane coating and should be maintained the same as a traditional wood floor. Prefinished engineered wood floors come stained and finished and may be walked on immediately after installation.

Many engineered wood manufacturers use aluminum oxide in their finish, which is the same coating used on laminate flooring. Aluminum oxide is one of the hardest surfaces known to man and helps protect engineered wood from getting nicks and scratches. Regardless of the type of engineered wood flooring used, the top layer may be made from numerous exotic and traditional wood species.

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Discussion Comments
By mantra — On Jun 24, 2011

I had engineered wood flooring installed in my home, too. I had to change some things when it came to cleaning the engineered wood floors, but it was no big deal. I love our new floors, too.

I make sure to sweep everyday to take care of any dirt or crumbs that have accumulated. We don’t have any pets or small children, so the crumbs are pretty limited. Dirt does find its way in to the high traffic areas, but sweeping is not a hassle.

I keep a small cloth head mop on hand for little spills. For bigger messes, I recommend a large terry cloth mop. It really does the trick for me. I always make sure I use as little water as needed to prevent any of it from seeping.

Always make sure any floor cleaning solution you use is compatible with your type of engineered wood floor. That way you know it will work without damaging the sealer on your floor. I prefer the clean up now over the amount of vacuuming I used to do. The engineered wood flooring has been a great new addition.

By OhDeDoh — On Jun 22, 2011

We recently had our downstairs floor redone with floating engineered wood floors. We decided on a beautiful oak one strip style. The company we contracted to do the work uses a new tongue and grooving system instead of the traditional gluing of the grooves on the boards’ edge.

The tongue and groove system for the floating engineered wood floors is simpler, very secure, and pretty quick. It also gets rid of the need to apply messy glues. This was a big bonus in my opinion.

One of the great things about floating wood floors is how the boards are not connected to the sub floor, but rather to themselves. This lets the floor move as one unit. If there is any movement, you don’t have to deal with floorboards opening up. You can only notice a change at the edge of the room. This is covered by round molding in our house, so it’s just not an issue.

We were also able to have the floating engineered wood floor installed over the existing sub floor with no issue. What’s more, it was the perfect choice for installing without causing any problems for our radiant heat system. I am very, very pleased with our new floor.

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