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Are Engineered Floorboards Right for Your Home?

Engineered floors are floors made of planks with a hardwood upper surface bonded to three to twelve sub-layers of wood veneers, which can be the same or different species as the top layer. They’re often arranged in a tongue and groove system, which makes them easy to install. As many species of wood can be made into engineered flooring as can be made into solid wood flooring. That might be as many as fifty species.

Advantages

What gives engineered hardwood floors their strength is that the grain of the layers run in different directions to each other. This means that changes in the humidity and temperature in a room cause it to shift less than a solid hardwood floor. This makes an engineered wood floor better for use in a damp area like a basement or even a bathroom. They can also be installed above or below grade and can be installed over an existing concrete floor as long as the moisture level of the floor doesn’t exceed four percent. Engineered wood floors an also be installed over a sub-floor that’s made of wood. Sometimes, the installer can install a floating floor, which has an under-layment pad, in an area with a moisture content that’s higher than normal. One drawback of an engineered wood floor is that it can’t be sanded as much as a solid wood floor, though engineered floors which have a top layer that’s from two to six mm thick can still last up to 80 years.

Preparing for Installation

Before the engineered wood floor is installed in the room, it will have to acclimate to the temperature and the humidity. This means that the room will need to be stripped of its furniture and the planks will need to sit in the room for up to two weeks. The manufacturers can tell the home-owner how long the wood will need to acclimate, as the time differs from species to species.

Sometimes engineered wood boards come pre-finished  and the home owner doesn’t have to do anything but install them. Others are unfinished, and will need to be sanded and finished after they’re acclimated. The finish will need to be allowed to dry, so the home-owner will need to stay out of the room for a period of time. Again, this time period depends on the sort of finish that was used on the wood.

Living With the Floor

None of the boards in even an engineered wood floor will be exactly the same, and over time the floor will develop some irregularities that will add to its character, including a change in color. The home-owner can try and keep the color stable by controlling the amount of direct sunlight that falls on the floor. Ideally, the humidity should be between 30 and 50 percent in a room. Humidity can make the wood shrink or swell, depending on how much humidity is in the air.

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