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    Engineered Hardwood FAQ

    Q. What is engineered hardwood flooring?

    A. Engineered hardwood flooring is a product made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core and is available in almost any hardwood species. The product thus has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer. The “engineered” product has been designed to provide greater stability, particularly where moisture or heat pose problems for solid hardwood floors.

     Q. What are the benefits of engineered hardwood over laminate and solid hardwood floor?

    A. Engineered harwood is more versatile and stable than solid hardwood and laminate; more resistant to moisture and humidity than solid hardwood; better for below-grade installations – basements, where dampness is common; able to be installed over radiant heating systems, which tend to dry out solid hardwood causing the boards to shrink, cup and buckle; ideal on a concrete subfloor, either as a direct glue-down or a floating floor.

     Q. What does greater stability mean?

    A. The instability of solid hardwood is usually moisture or heat related. Under adverse conditions, solid hardwood floors can warp, cup, swell or split apart. Engineered hardwood flooring overcomes these problems by constructing a multiple-ply plank which counteracts twisting and remains flat and intact. This makes engineered hardwood flooring a better choice for installation over radiant heat sources, over concrete whether it’s below grade or above.


    Q. How many layers does engineered flooring have?

    A. In addition to the top hardwood veneer, engineered wood flooring typically has three or more layers. Generally, there is greater stability with more layers. The core layers may be plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood.


    Q. Does engineering destroy the natural beauty of hardwood floors?

    A. Not at all. The top hardwood layer (a hardwood veneer) is the same genuine hardwood you have in solid hardwood floors.  There are many beautiful possibilities with engineered floors.  


    Q. What is the thickness of the hardwood veneer?

    A. The hardwood veneer, top layer hardwood, can typically be 0.5mm to 4.5mm or more in thickness. A quality hardwood veneer will provide many years of wear.


    Q. Can I refinish (sand) an engineered floor?

    A. It depends upon the thickness of your hardwood layer but the fact is that 95% of hardwood surfaces are never refinished. With the high quality finishes that are offered and the extensive process that refinishing a floor entails, damaged areas are often removed professionally. If sanding is desired, typically, the professional sanding procedure removes 1/32 of an inch. Thus if your floor has a 2mm layer you can sand the floor 1-2 times.


    Q. What is the Janka hardness test and why should I be aware of it as a consumer?

    A. As a consumer of quality wood flooring, you naturally want to know how the product you are thinking about purchasing will withstand wearing and dents. The Janka hardness rating is your standard measurement for this purpose. The Janka test is conducted by measuring the force needed to lodge a .444-inch steel ball in the wood species to a depth of half the ball’s diameter. The higher the rating, the harder is the species of wood. Of course, the Janka hardness rating is also useful when assessing how easy or difficult it is to hammer a nail into the hardwood or cut it with a saw.


    Q. Is the Janka rating useful for engineered hardwood flooring?

    A. The janka rating is a good one to keep in mind for engineered hardwood flooring as well as solid hardwood, especially if durability is a key selling feature for you. The Janka hardness rating of the hardwood used for the veneer on your engineered flooring will guide you to the best choice for your intended flooring use. For example, Brazilian Cherry and Hand-scraped Oak are excellent engineered floors for high traffic areas.


    Q. In preparing a sub floor, what is the maximum variance you should allow?

    A. The preparation of your sub floor is a key factor to the final outcome of your floor. You should have no more than 3/16” over 10’ variance on your sub floor.


    Q. What does it mean when hardwood is sold in random lengths?

    A. Lengths will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some will include boards of all one length, generally at a higher cost because of the quality required. Others will include boards of random lengths, while indicating the shortest board and the longest board lengths on the box. With random board lengths, all the boards in the box will fall in between those two lengths. Some manufacturers may even note the proportion of each board length.


    Q. How should I install my engineered hardwood?

    A. Generally speaking, engineered flooring can be installed in three different ways: (i) nail down if over plywood subfloor; (ii) glue down if over plywood or concrete subfloor, and (iii) float if over plywood or concrete subfloor.

    For nail down installation, ideal plywood subfloor should be ¾” thick, felt #15, or glue down if applicable.  

    If gluing the floor directly on the subfloor, use 100% urethane based adhesive with an integrated vapor barrier.

    For float installation, use an underlayment with a vapor barrier. Usually for floating, the seams will still need to be glued together using regular wood glue such as Elmers or Titebond, unless the specific engineered floor is a glue-less click-lock.