What is Engineered Flooring?
Engineered flooring is made using a layered construction. The top layer consists of a thin veneer of hardwood, usually 1/16” or 1/8” thick. The structure of the flooring is made from several layers of various woods alternating in direction and glued and clamped together to give the board lateral strength. The type of wood used in the structural layer is directly tied to the quality and cost of the flooring.
The Benefits of Engineered Wood Flooring
There are several advantages of using engineered wood over hardwood flooring, including:
- Options: Since engineered flooring uses actual hardwood veneers as its finished layer, literally any hardwood flooring option is available as an engineered wood floor.
- Stability: The layered construction used in engineered floors is designed to limit warping, swelling, cracking and splitting due to the high humidity, moisture and temperature changes that affect solid hardwoods.
- Installation Options: While traditional glue and nail-down installations can be accomplished with engineered flooring, many manufacturers offer their product as a “floating floor”, meaning each piece is simply attached to the surrounding pieces, not the subfloor. These installations are not only less labor intensive, but can also be installed over most types of existing flooring, saving additional floor removal costs.
- Ecological Sustainability: Simply by using a hardwood veneer instead of the whole product being made from hardwood, one tree can produce up to 8 times as much product, saving the amount of trees needing to be cut down.
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Solid Hardwood Flooring Benefits
The advantages natural hardwood flooring has over its competitors include:
- Durability: Hardwood floors simply have no peer when it comes to standing up to foot traffic and physical damage. Hardwoods simply resist scratching and denting better than any other type of wood, laminate, or engineered product.
- Ability to be Refinished: Unlike laminate and engineered wood floors, solid hardwood floors can be refinished several times if damage or color fading occur over time, which returns the floor to its original beauty.
- Durable Construction: In addition to hardwood’s natural durable qualities, installers often use glue in addition to a fastening system (staples or nails) to solidly fasten the floor to the subfloor, eliminating creaks and groans over the life of the floor.
Engineered Wood and Hardwood Flooring Costs
The following prices are based on national averages only; actual costs will vary according to your exact location in the country. Exotic species of hardwoods are also affected by the cost of oil due to the extreme distances the wood must travel.
- Expect engineered flooring to cost $4.50-$10 per square foot, including installation. Materials are $2.50-$6 of the total, and the discrepancy is due to differences in thickness, quality and the type of wood that makes up the structural layer.
- Domestic hardwood flooring species such as oak and walnut typically cost $4-$8 per square foot. More exotic species can cost as much as $20 per square foot, however. Installing hardwood flooring will cost $3-$5 per square foot.
- Removal of an existing floor will add $1-$4 per square foot, depending on the type of floor you currently have installed.