Engineered Wood Flooring Guide
There's a lot to think about when choosing a wood floor for your home. Engineered wood flooring is a popular choice, and for many reasons. But is this the right flooring for you and your home? There are also a few choices to make when considering engineered wood flooring. We'll go through what engineered wood flooring is, the styles, benefits, and more to help you choose the engineered wood flooring that's right for you.
What is Engineered Wood Flooring?
Engineered wood flooring is made out of multiple layers. It has the look and feel of solid wood, but because of the various layers, it can go in rooms that aren't suitable for solid wood floors, such as kitchens, bathrooms or conservatories. If you're unsure about which wood flooring you want, check out our guide on the difference between solid and engineered wood flooring.
Let's have a deep-dive into the layers that make up engineered wood and what makes them so great.
The top layer is the fancy looking bit: a beautiful veneer of solid wood. It's the bit you can feel and touch and it's the most important choice to make when choosing your engineered floor.
The second layer is the clever bit: a strong, supportive layer that can be made of plywood, HDF or a soft wood. All three materials work the same, so all you need to know is that they prevent the top layer from warping.
This is then all finished off with a stabilising back layer. The result? A floor which looks amazing but doesn't buckle in areas of changing moisture.
Benefits of Engineered Wood Flooring
We think engineered floors are the best thing to happen to flooring since sliced wood! There are loads of benefits to this flooring type, which make it a popular choice, such as:
- Can cope with temperature and moisture changes
- Less prone to movements, swelling and shrinking
- Hardwearing, so suitable for high-traffic areas
- Looks like solid wood, but at a lower cost
- Can be used with underfloor heating
- Easy to install
- Lots of choice in style and plank sizes
Disadvantages of Engineered Wood Flooring
Although we love engineered wood flooring, it does also have some potential drawbacks that you may want to consider:
- More expensive than other flooring types that can give the "real wood" look for less
- Lifespan isn't as long as solid wood
- Requires more maintenance than other flooring types
Nothing is perfect, and despite the drawbacks, engineered wood flooring is a popular choice. We certainly think the pros more than outweigh the cons, especially if you are looking for a real-wood-look without the price tag of solid wood.
How Much Does Engineered Wood Flooring Cost?
The cost of engineered wood flooring will depend on the flooring you choose. There is variation in cost due to plank thickness, style, finish, and more. In our range, you will find engineered wood from a little over £20 per square metre to over £100 per square metre.
Is Engineered Wood Flooring Durable?
Because of the three layers that make up engineered wood, this flooring is tough and durable. Because of this it is suitable for rooms with heavy footfall, as well as homes with children and pets.
How Long Does Engineered Wood Flooring Last?
Engineered wood flooring is a durable flooring choice. Its solid wood veneer allows it to be sanded down and refinished several times in its life. This means that, with the right treatment, an engineered floor could last for many decades. For every millimetre of veneer you can sand approximately once, and depending on how you look after your floor dictates when sanding would be required. A typical 3 to 3.6mm veneered floor can last 30+ years. If maintained properly, it can last longer than this too.
Find out how to care for an engineered wood floor.
Which Wood is the Hardest?
When you choose engineered wood flooring, you choose the species of wood you would like (we'll go through these later). All engineered wood flooring is tough and durable, but each species of wood has a different level of hardness. Here's the hardness of each species on the Brinell scale (the higher the number, the harder the species):
Are Engineered Floors Scratch Resistant?
Engineered floors are topped with real wood, so it is possible to scratch your floor, although this takes a fair bit of effort - dragging furniture is the biggest culprit - and it doesn't have to be permanent, as engineered wood can be repaired. Engineered wood can be sanded down and refinished, so you can easily get your engineered floor looking as good as new if it does get scratched.
To minimise the chance of scratches, applying felt floor protectors on furniture feet is always recommended.
The finish of the engineered wood will also affect how easily it scratches (we'll go through the finish options later). Generally speaking, lacquered floors will be tougher than oiled floors, but oiled floors are much easier to recoat, so when you pick your finish, you may have to pick between what's most important to you.
Are Engineered Floors Water Resistant?
Engineered floors are more resistant to humid environments than solid wood floors, but that doesn't make them waterproof. However, they are moisture-resistant with low-level water resistance. Because of this, they can be used in rooms with some moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms, but with care.
If puddles are left on engineered floors, the water can start to seep in between the planks, causing warping and discolouring. As such, we recommend drying up any splashes as soon as possible. Lacquered engineered floors offer more protection than oiled engineered floors, so could be used in kitchens or areas where only small splashes are likely and are the better choice for bathrooms if you are able to keep on top of the humidity.
Can You Use Underfloor Heating with Engineered Wood?
Underfloor heating is becoming a popular concern when choosing a new floor. In good news, you can use underfloor heating with engineered wood as it can cope with temperature changes. The clever multi-layer design stops the wood from swelling or shrinking with temperature fluctuations caused by underfloor heating. However, thickness is key here, so when looking at our range, be sure to check if the product states it is suitable for underfloor heating.
Find out more about which floors you can use with underfloor heating.
Engineered Wood Flooring Room Suitability
Because of its toughness and durability, engineered wood is suitable for many rooms in the home. However, you do need to be careful when placing this flooring in rooms where splashes and spills are likely to occur.
Living rooms have a stable temperature, low moisture levels and low footfall, all of which are ideal for an engineered floor. The real-wood look of engineered wood flooring can create an ambience in a living room, as it has all the charm and character of solid wood.
You can lay an engineered floor in a kitchen; just bear in mind that spillages shouldn't be left to soak in - be sure to dry off your floor quickly. Because of their lower water resistance, we don't recommend oiled engineered floors for kitchens, but if you're after a similar look, matt lacquered floors offer more protection.
Engineered wood can be laid in bathrooms, but with care. The high humidity of a bathroom can damage engineered wood flooring, as it is not completely waterproof. Water shouldn't be left to sit on any wooden floor as it can slowly seep in between the boards. However, engineered wood does have low water resistance, so if you make sure any standing water is wiped up straight away, and if you can quickly remove the humidity in the room after use, it is possible to lay this flooring, but it does take more care.
If you have your heart set on a real-wood look for the bathroom, we recommend looking at waterproof laminate instead.
We all know how much the temperature in the conservatory can change, but engineered floors have a high level of resistance to changes in temperature, so are an excellent choice for conservatories. However, as the temperature fluctuates so much in conservatories, ensure you leave a wide enough expansion gap and acclimatise the wood before fitting.
Down to the clever construction of the boards, you can lay engineered floors in basements. Engineered flooring has some resistance to humidity and dampness and is very hardwearing, so whatever you are using your basement for, this flooring is a good choice.
Hallways and Stairs
Engineered floors are hardwearing and can be refinished to restore signs of wear and tear, making them an excellent choice for these busy areas. They are also stable and grippy enough to avoid any potential accidents, so they are perfect for stairs.
Engineered Wood Flooring Options
When it comes to choosing the right engineered wood flooring for your home, there's a lot to consider. You have lots of options when it comes to picking your perfect engineered wood flooring, from the species of wood to the thickness of the planks. Let's go through all the options you have when it comes to designing the perfect look for your engineered wood floor:
Engineered Wood Floor Species
There are a variety of different wood species available in engineered wood flooring. Species define the tree the planks have come from, for example, oak or walnut. Grain pattern, colour, and tone are all different properties of different wood species, and as wood is a natural material, there may be colour and pattern variances even within the same species. Here are the species of engineered wood you will find in our range:
Engineered oak floors are by far the most popular choice of wood species and come in a large range of colours. Oak is distinctive for its straight and swirling grain patterns, which can have a silvery texture. Rays and knotting give that traditional and classic appearance. Be aware, though, that over time it will grow slightly darker in direct sunlight.
Engineered walnut flooring is recognised as a luxurious dark timber. With its distinctive knots, attractive burrs, and unique grain patterns, it can make a real design statement in any home. Walnut has both straight and irregular graining patterns that offer an exciting variation to other woods. Though, in sunlight, it lightens over time.
Engineered ash flooring is a beautiful, light-coloured, strong, and flexible option. Best described as a pale creamy wood, ash has a bold, straight, moderately open grain and distinctive patterns and markings. In sunlight, it darkens over time.
Engineered beech flooring is pale with slight undertones of pink and a softly speckled surface. These light flecks within the graining add character and diversity to the flooring. Beech is great at resisting dents as it has a similar hardness to oak but a straighter, more regular grain. In sunlight, it darkens over time.
Engineered maple floors are generally best described as being light or pale timber with darker soft figuring and graining, which gives the room a clean airy feel. Maple is a very durable wood. It has a warm and light colour which suits most rooms and styles.
Engineered Flooring Grain Styles
As you select your engineered floor, you will notice that there are a variety of different grains (also called grades) available. The grain is based on the type, location and number of defects found in a board. The grain of the wood you choose for your floor can make a big difference to the feel of a room. Let's explore the different types of engineered grain options:
Prime grade engineered flooring has a steady, regular grain without much colour variation. It only has a few, tiny knots, and no checks (cracks across the growth rings). This grade is mostly clear, resulting in a consistent appearance on the floor.
Natural grade engineered flooring is a bit more relaxed, with a few knots and some colour variation. There may be a couple of checks or rays (ribbons extending vertically through the tree) in the boards and swirling patterns in the grain. This floor suits a wide range of homes. Any holes are filled with coloured wood filler to keep the floor surface smooth and flat.
Knots, streaks, colour variations, wormholes and grooves are left in rustic grade engineered floors, which makes them laid back and natural. This is the most popular grain available and is great for a cosy country home. Like the natural grade, holes are filled with coloured wood filler to keep the floor surface smooth and flat.
Character grade engineered floors contain all the lively wood characteristics that occur in any hardwood floor, such as large colour variation, frequent knots, heavy mineral streaks, checks, worm holes, large grain burls and figuring. This gives a dramatic effect to the floor.
Engineered Flooring Colours
If you're after even more control over how your floor looks, you're in luck! As well as the variation in colour from the species of the wood you choose, floors can be stained to lighten or darken the shade. Within our collection, you'll find a huge variety of colours and tones, including white, grey, light, medium, dark, and black.
Using a dark stain can give your engineered floor a deep black, brown, or golden colour. Dark engineered floors are perfect for creating a cosy country home as they tend to have a vintage or antique appearance. We find that dark engineered floors have the ability to hide dirt and dust better than lighter floors.
Medium stained engineered wood flooring is also called "natural", as they don't change the colour of the wood with the staining. The medium tones add warmth to any room, without being too attention-grabbing. These give a traditional look that adds a subtle class to your home.
Using a light stain, can give your engineered floor a whitewashed effect. Light engineered floors include white and grey tones and are fantastic for modern homes and work great in dark rooms to help bounce the light around. We find that lighter floors are better at hiding light scratches and dents.
Engineered Surface Textures
There are a variety of surface textures in our engineered collection that can all add character to a space. Here we will explain the differences between a distressed, smooth, and textured surface of an engineered floor.
A wonderful textured effect on an engineered wood floor can be created by treating each board with a wire brush. The brushed finish gives it a deeper, more pronounced grain and makes the wood a little more resistant to the appearance of scratches.
A distressed texture offers a unique, aged appearance. The process of creating a distressed engineered wood floor is labour-intensive and time-consuming, involving carefully scraping and bashing the floor, but it's worth it for the beautiful, aged effect at the end. This unique finish gives a real depth of character.
A smooth surface adds an element of uniformity across each plank. These boards are sanded until they're completely smooth and then finished. Each board is completely smooth yet still unique because of the grain.
Engineered Flooring Plank Styles
The way in which engineered flooring boards are constructed can create entirely different effects in the room it's laid. The size and layout of the planks react differently with the size and shape of a room, so consider where it's being laid before you choose your style of plank.
One strip or single strip engineered floors are the most popular style of engineered flooring. This is a traditional method of taking a single piece of wood from the tree and cutting it into a board. This design really gives you a true reflection of the beautiful grain and structure of the wood. These floors are a good way to create the appearance of a larger room.
Multi Strip Engineered Floors
Multi-strip engineered floors are made by taking smaller cuts of wood from a tree and combining them into a single board. Because those smaller pieces are easier to find than big single pieces, multi-strip floors are the more affordable option. They can also give the illusion of space in small rooms.
Parquet flooring is made from lots of small, identical blocks laid in a geometrical pattern across the floor. Parquet has a uniquely classic, sophisticated look, associated with large country houses and official buildings. There really is no better way to make a statement with your floor. The most common designs are variations on the Herringbone pattern, although many, many more patterns exist.
Engineered Wood Flooring Thickness
The plank thickness of engineered wood floors comes in many options. Our range starts at 7mm thick, which you can find on our 10mm thick and under engineered wood flooring range and go all the way up to 20mm thick engineered wood flooring, with lots of options in between.
Thicker boards sound more substantial underfoot and generally have a thicker top layer. Thicker top layers can be sanded down and refinished more times, which prolongs a floor's life. However, thinner boards will be easier on the budget. Choosing a mid-thickness is often a good compromise between budget and longevity of the floor. All our engineered wood flooring is durable and hardwearing, regardless of the thickness.
If you want underfloor heating, the thickness of the board is an important consideration. You need the board to be thin enough to let the heat through, but thick enough that it has additional protection against temperature fluctuations. We find that 15mm thick engineered wood flooring is the best choice to use with underfloor heating - but be sure to check the suitability on each individual product listing.
Engineered Wood Flooring Width
Most of our engineered wood flooring boards range from 130mm to 300mm wide. When it comes to width, it's all down to personal preference. Smaller boards can make smaller rooms feel bigger, whereas larger boards tend to work better across more spacious rooms. Consider the effect you want to create before choosing your board width.
Engineered Flooring Finishes
The finish of an engineered wood floor is the varnish-like layer which is applied to your boards. Each style of finish brings its own visual appearance to the wood, as well as slightly different levels of protection.
A satin lacquer-finished engineered floor creates a smooth and slightly glossy finish. This is a popular, low-maintenance finish. All satin lacquered finishes are resistant to splashes and scratches. They also slow the colour-changing effects of sunlight much more than oiled floors.
Having a matt lacquer-finished engineered floor gives an elegant, natural, less glossy look. Matt lacquer looks more like an oil or wax finish but is more resistant to scratches. This is the most popular way to finish your engineered floor. These also slow the colour-changing effects of sunlight much more than oiled floors.
A natural oil finished engineered floor is the most traditional treatment and gives a natural, classic look. Oil needs to be reapplied more often than lacquer, but luckily this is very easy to do. Generally speaking, oiled floors offer less protection against sunlight, and your floor will change its colour much quicker than lacquered floors.
Unfinished engineered wood floor is a raw material. These boards have not yet been through a finishing procedure, but they will need this to ensure the flooring lasts. Some of our floors are supplied unprotected, natural and ready for any finish you think of applying.
Engineered Flooring Edging
The kind of edging you should choose for your engineered floor depends mainly on the kind of look you want to achieve in your home. Here are the edging options you'll find in our range:
When an engineered floor has a square edge, the ends of all planks meet squarely, creating a smooth, uniform surface that blends the engineered flooring together from plank to plank. The overall look of this engineered flooring with a square edge gives a more contemporary flair and formal feeling to the room.
Bevelled edges on engineered floorboards accentuate each individual plank, resulting in a more traditional-looking floor. Bevelled edge planks have a very distinctive, deep v-groove. They lend themselves more to informal and country decor. The deep bevelling also helps to hide tiny gaps which can develop between boards.
Some people found that bevelled edges could make their engineered floors become dust traps, so microbevels were introduced. In a microbevelled engineered wood floor, each plank has a slightly bevelled edge. It's a subtle way to distinguish between the planks, as opposed to the deeper bevelled edge, which still serves many of the same functions.
Engineered Wood Skirting Boards and Scotia
Skirting boards and scotia both cover the gap between the floor and the wall. Which you need will depend on the condition of your current skirting boards and whether they need replacing or not.
Skirting boards have numerous historical uses. Some say they date back to when men wore spurs on their shoes, and others say they were to cover the gap where wet-plastered walls (which were difficult to make straight) met the floor. In modern times, they're much more useful to protect your wall from being worn away by vacuum cleaners, but they also cover the 10mm expansion gap around your floor.
If you're not replacing your old skirting boards around your room, you'll still need to cover the expansion gap next to your walls. This can be done subtly and elegantly with a scotia, which attaches to the skirting board to seamlessly cover the gap.
Engineered Wood Underlay
Underlay is an important consideration for any flooring. This will help with installations, make your floor quieter and help it last longer. There are a few options you can choose from to go with engineered wood flooring, such as thermal and acoustic options. For more information, check out our guide to engineered wood flooring underlay.
Our Engineered Wood Flooring
If you think this is the right floor for your home, check out our full range of engineered wood flooring, to find the style to suit your room. You can use our room visualiser to see what the different products will look like in your room.
If you're ready to buy your engineered wood flooring, check out our guide on how to install engineered wood flooring.
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