Engineered hardwood flooring is a type of wood floor that involves the compression of 2 or more bonded layers. The lower layer is a core layer/primary layer/stabilizing layer, made from hardwood plywood, softwood or MDF/HDF (medium/high density fiber board) while the top layer/“wear layer” is made from real hardwood or hardwood veneer. This top layer is glued (bonded) to the core layer and varies in both thickness and hardwood species.

Unlike Laminate flooring, engineered flooring in Vancouver does not use a “photographic” design layer to emulate real hardwood, and instead uses real hardwood instead.

The Benefits of Engineered Flooring in Vancouver

Engineered hardwood has been designed and manufactured to combine the durability elements of laminate flooring with the high-quality appearance of hardwood flooring. Thanks to its stabilizing layer, engineered flooring is more rigid and stable than real hardwood; and more impervious to moisture, humidity and temperature fluctuations as well. These factors make engineered hardwood the ideal flooring application in areas where heat and moisture would be problematic for solid hardwood floors.

Engineered flooring in Vancouver is ideal for below-grade installations (such as basements) where dampness and moisture is common- making it ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, basements, lake and Oceanside cottages, or any room located below-grade. In Vancouver,It can be installed on top of a concrete sub floor (unlike solid hardwood); it can be installed above radiant heating systems (which can dry, warp or shrink solid hardwood planks); and engineered hardwood flooring can be easily installed glue-down, or as a snap and lock floating floor.

Laminated Flooring vs Engineered Flooring vs Solid Hardwood

Compared to solid hardwood, engineered flooring is hands-down more durable, providing more stability compared to solid hardwood flooring, and more installation alternatives.

Compared to laminate flooring, engineered flooring provides a natural hardwood look and feel (quality) for less money than solid hardwood, but it is more expensive than laminate. In addition, while engineered flooring is more durable and moisture resilient compared to solid hardwood, it is still susceptible to staining and damage compared to the superior protection afforded by laminate flooring.

In the end the decision of which flooring to use is ultimately up to the consumer and the budget they set for their flooring. While Laminate flooring provides exceptional quality and value and it is great in basements and high traffic areas, or in homes with children and pets; you would not associate high-end luxury with laminate flooring. Solid hardwood and engineered hardwood, on the other hand, provide a luxurious, rich feeling that one comes to expect from the homes in higher price ranges, or in homes where quality is a must.

Not all Engineered Hardwood is the same

When it comes to selecting engineered flooring, not all flooring is created equal. The market is filled with high-quality flooring and low-quality counterparts as well; and the primary difference between high and low is the thickness and quality of the hardwood veneer (wear layer).

Firstly, consumers need to ensure that the top layer is in fact made from real hardwood. High-quality manufacturers use solid wood sawn from hardwood trees (lamellas) that preserve the look and feel of natural wood- because that’s what it is, real wood. Whereas low-quality manufacturers will use synthetic materials designed to look like natural hardwood, but are in fact a cheap substitute.

Secondly, consumers need to be aware of the thickness of this top layer which varies between 2 and 6 mm (the industry standard) (1/12 -1/4 of an inch); however, there are some products on the market with as little as 0.5 mm thick (less than 1/48 of an inch).

The thickness of the top layer will determine the overall durability of the flooring, as well as whether it can be refinished. Typically, 90% of engineered flooring are never refinished, largely due to the thickness of the top layer; and the following guidelines should be considered when purchasing engineered flooring:

  • 2 mm thickness (1/12 of an inch)- are not intended to be refinished
  • 3 mm thickness (1/8 of an inch) can be refinished (sanded and stained) 1-2 times
  • 4 mm thickness (1/6 of an inch) can be refinished 2-3 times
  • 5 mm thickness (3/16 of an inch) can be refinished 3-4 times
  • 6 mm thickness (1/4 of an inch) can be refinished 4 or more times

Note: it should be stressed that the sanding process typically removes approximately 1/32 of an inch (or .75 mm) if done by a professional. Given the amount of precision required, the above guidelines are meant for reference purposes only.

In comparison, solid hardwood flooring can generally withstand up to 7 sandings- depending on the species and quality of the hardwood used of course; and whether the refinishing is done by a professional flooring finisher or a novice handy person.