What is engineered wood flooring & how to lay it?
All you need to know about Engineered Wood Flooring. Our complete guide.
You may have heard of the term 'engineered wood flooring' before, but how is it different from natural wood flooring? And what advantages are there to choosing engineered wood flooring over other options? In the Arnold Laver Guide to Engineered Wood Flooring, we'll look at what it is, how much it costs, and how to take care of your beautiful wood floor.
What is engineered wood flooring?
Engineered wood flooring is made up of multiple layers of material. The top layer is genuine hardwood, and faster-growing softwoods such as spruce or pine are used on the lower layers. To be genuine engineered wood flooring, the top layer must be real wood. That means you get all the beauty of the natural grain, but with several additional benefits when compared to solid wood, including:
- The top layer uses slow-growing, densely grained hardwood giving it greater resilience and a beautiful appearance. Because only a thin layer of hardwood is used in the composition, it ensures this valuable resource is used as efficiently as possible.
- By doing this, it’s a more eco-friendly and sustainable option too
- The moisture and temperature-resistant softwoods in the lower layers make it incredibly stable – up to 75% more stable than solid wood floors.
That top layer can be any thickness, so if you’re looking at engineered flooring as an option, it’s best to choose one that has a thicker top layer. They last longer, stay looking their best and are more resistant to damage, especially in high traffic areas such as hallways. Flooring with thicker top layers will be more expensive, but at Arnold Laver, we feel that the additional cost is worth it to have a better looking and longer-lasting finish.
The core makes up the rest of your board and is the layer on which the top decorative wood sits. It also provides the board’s strength.
How do I know how thick the top layer is?
When you’re buying engineered wood flooring, it will have a number displayed that designates the thickness of the top board and the total thickness of the floorboard. For example, a board marked as 18/5mm means that the entire thickness of the board is 18mm, of which 5mm is the real wood decorative layer. So your core section on an 18/5mm would be 13mm.
How many types of engineered wood flooring are there?
There are three main types of engineered wood flooring, which we take a look at below.
This is the most common type available and is ideal for heavy traffic areas thanks to its strength. It feels the most like solid wood flooring and comes in various thicknesses.
3-ply engineered wood flooring
Affordable and ideal if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option that still looks great, 3-ply isn’t as strong as multi-ply, so choose narrower boards rather than wide planks.
These are super-easy to install thanks to the click-and-lock system. They use a different structure with high-density fibre cores rather than wood cores, so they’re lighter without compromising on strength.
How much does wood flooring cost?
Engineered wood flooring is comparable in cost to hardwood flooring. However, the benefits of engineered wood flooring, including its sustainability, eco-friendly construction, and the enhanced stability of the softwood layers, make it a feasible alternative. The average for a 5m x 5m room is anywhere between £500 to £2750, depending on the grade of the wood and the thickness of that top decorative layer.
How to lay engineered wood flooring
The key thing to remember when laying engineered wooden flooring (or any other wooden flooring, for that matter) is to stagger your joints. Think of a brick wall and how the layers of bricks are staggered – this gives the wall strength. The same principle applies to laying wooden flooring.
1. Clean and level
The first thing to do is to ensure that the sub-floor is clean and, most importantly, level. Any cracks or dips in the surface should be properly filled and allowed to dry completely before you start work.
2. Check if you need an underlay
Before you start locking your boards into position. This may take a little time to acclimatise. Our top tip: roll out the underlay and allow it to 'settle' for 24 hours before starting work.
3. Mark the underlay as a “template”
Mark out the board positions on the underlay as a ‘template’. This will prevent you from forgetting to stagger your joints!
4. Apply a flexible polymer wood flooring
You’ll need to apply a flexible polymer wood flooring adhesive. Make sure you allow plenty of ventilation to circulate in the room, as the fumes can be quite strong. Spread the adhesive on the sub-floor using a notched trowel.
5. Create your first line
Create your first line parallel to the starting wall. Then build up your floor row by row, ensuring that the ‘click and lock’ process happens with each board to make sure they lock properly into position against the previous line.
Avoid walking or standing on the floor until the adhesive has completely cured, which should take around 48 hours.
Can you lay engineered wood flooring over under-floor heating systems?
It really depends on the manufacturer's recommendations. You will need to acclimatise the wood flooring to the ambient temperature to ensure it doesn't warp or twist. This typically takes around four to five days. You may need to go through various heating cycles to ensure there is no moisture in the sub-floor. Remember to allow expansion gaps around the room's perimeter of around 12-15mm.
How to clean engineered wood floors?
It's easy to clean engineered wooden floors – you use the same technique as cleaning hardwood floors. Regular vacuuming will keep the dust at bay, while a weekly wipe with a damp mop will remove surface dirt. Remember to squeeze the excess water out of the mop, so you don't leave puddles that could cause water damage to the surface.
Regular waxing and polishing will bring out the natural beauty of the top decorative layer. For engineered wood flooring that's been badly stained or looks a little tired, a very light sanding will take off the surface dirt and reveal the beautiful grain underneath. Remember, though, that the decorative layer is relatively thin. Use fine-grain sandpaper and the lightest of touches to avoid damaging the surface.
Can you paint engineered wood floors?
You can, but we think they look better 'au naturelle'! However, if you have a contemporary home or want to brighten up a child's bedroom, you can paint wood floors. You'll need to sand the surface first to remove any wax or varnish that would prevent the paint from adhering - use specialist paint designed for wood floorings to get a perfect finish.
Working with the world’s leading manufacturers
At Arnold Laver, we believe that engineered wood flooring is an excellent choice for a modern home. It's easy to fit, long-lasting and a sustainable, eco-friendly option. To respond to the increase in demand for engineered wood flooring, Arnold Laver has launched a new range of premium products from the experts at Kährs.
Who are Kährs?
This long-established Swedish manufacturer started life over 160 years ago and was originally known for its parquet floors. Their ethos is not just innovation and design but sustainability too - principles that fit well with our own at Arnold Laver. In 1999 they created the world's first glueless joint. Known as the Woodloc® joint, it revolutionised engineered wood flooring. In 2009 they created an even better version, the Woodloc® 5S, allowing faster installation and stronger results.
Combine this revolutionary technology with a wealth of stunning products to choose from, and it’s easy to see why Kährs is at the forefront of wooden flooring in Europe and around the world. At Arnold Laver, we’re delighted to be partnering with them, providing our customers with an even greater range of sustainably-produced and long-lasting wooden flooring.
Do you want more information on engineered wood flooring?
For more information, check out our Engineered Wood Flooring page. You can also get lots of practical advice from the experts at Arnold Laver on how to lay wooden flooring and other subjects such as Parquet flooring and laminate flooring on our blog. And if you still have questions, feel free to call us and chat with one of our friendly team members.