Hardwood flooring: engineered or solid?

Pre-finished engineered wood is solid wood with extra benefits

No matter how well seasoned, oiled, waxed or lacquered it may be, wood remains hydroscopic. So when humidity is high it will absorb some of that moisture, swell and rise or ‘crown’ in the middle. When that same piece of wood is placed in a dry environment – as happens when using heating or air conditioning – it will release its moisture, dry out and shrink. Lay pieces of wood side by side in a confined space and these changes in humidity can result in them bowing, warping, cupping or gapping over time. This is what can happen with a solid wood floor, wall or ceiling.

An engineered wood board is, quite simply, a wood board which consists of more than one layer. The top layer, otherwise known as the wear layer or lamella, is solid wood, usually hardwood. Bonding each layer together so that the grain runs at right angles makes it virtually impossible for the wood to swell or shrink, thus increasing its stability quite dramatically.

Layout 1

Engineered (20mm) Construction

Venture Plank cross section

Engineered (13mm) Construction

Relik cross section

Genuine Reclaimed Construction

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 (7″) wide engineered planks are quite standard; 260mm (10″) 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 though techniques like smoking, sawing, brushing and planing, 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.

Havwoods have been supplying architects and specifiers with wood that works for over 40 years. Wood that works is more than a catchy line, it’s our philosophy: we will only supply wood flooring which we are confident is properly suited to the task for which it is specified. This is why, in many areas of the world, we now supply only engineered wood.

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