There are different species, grades, and finishes of hardwood and finding what works best for your home and fits your budget can be a long process as a result. With the variants available today, the choice is even tougher as you must decide between engineered and solid based on several factors before you look into the other criteria. Engineered hardwood has several advantages over solid wood since it is processed to be more durable and resistant against natural elements. However, the classic appeal of solid wood cannot be denied either.
This post is a detailed guide to the criteria for choosing the best engineered hardwood to get the most cost-efficient deal.
Factors That Influence the Quality:
There are different grades of engineered hardwood that you will come across. The quality depends on several factors and the following are things that you need to check at the store to know about the product thoroughly:
- Wear layer
This flooring type is made of several layers stacked and bonded to be extremely hard and durable. The top layer of the floorboards is called “wear layer” which is made of solid wood veneers. The thicker the layer is, the better is the quality of the product. Cheaper variants of engineered wood have several layers of wood bonded together to form the top layer but a quality flooring has a “single strip” top layer. Choosing a product with a thicker top layer ensures you get the maximum utility from it and it can be refinished several times like solid wood.
The layers forming the core of the floorboards is called the under-core and is made of plywood bonded together. The thickness depends on the number of plywood boards bonded together. The best quality engineered hardwood is made of multi-laminate hardwood ply which is very stable and durable. When you are installing the engineered wood over an underfloor heating system, the under-core should be taken into consideration as the thicker under-core will be less prone to swelling or shrinking due to temperature and humidity fluctuation.
The length and width of the floorboards does not influence the overall quality of the product but can affect the look you are trying to achieve in your home. This is a matter of personal preference and does not affect the utility of your flooring. The shorter and thinner floorboards are comparatively cheaper and considered suitable for achieving a classic and traditional look. The wider and thicker boards cover more area and hence easier to install but are comparatively expensive. Aesthetics of the room, the installation labour and the overall cost should together be noted to find the right floorboard size for your home.
Since the top layer is made of solid wood veneers, determining the species of wood you prefer is essential too. You can find engineered wood variants of almost every popular hardwood species and even exotic options. The prime benefit of choosing an engineered variant of any hardwood species is you can get the same texture and style at a more affordable price. Some of the most popular species available are hickory, ash, oak, maple, and American walnut. These species are so sought after because of their hardness, grain patterns, and rich colour.
- Edge type
The edge of the floorboards influences the style you are trying to achieve. It also affects the feel of the flooring underfoot. The following are the popular edge types that you will come across while shopping for floorboards:
- Square- It feels uniform and level when stepped on and is ideal for a clean and formal look.
- Beveled- This edge creates grooves in the floor panels and the look achieved is textured.
- Eased edge- The edges are smoothed out and forms grooves that are not as prominent as the beveled floorboards, creating an interesting visual formation and hides any irregularities between the panels.
Choosing the Right Floorboards
There are few more things you should think of before choosing this flooring type:
- Solid or engineered wood
A major decision for flooring projects is deciding between hardwood and engineered wood. To make this decision, one must compare the advantages and drawbacks of both the materials. While solid hardwood adds more resale value to your property, it is expensive and reacts to temperature and humidity significantly. Engineered hardwood is much more stable and affordable but does not add to the resale value of your home as much. Installation is much easier with engineered hardwood as they are available in the form of click-lock planks and it can also be installed over radiant heating. However, the warmth and feel of solid hardwood is commendable, and is much more preferred by many homeowners.
These floorboards are available in pre-finished as well as site finished variants. With pre-finished floorboards, you are getting exactly what you see in the store. However, due to variation in the graining, it may appear quite different from what you imagined from the samples. Site finishing the flooring allows you the flexibility to finish it exactly according to your requirements and preferences. On the downside, site finishing can be extremely messy and the chances of the floor getting marked are higher.
Determining the right finish is important to get the maximum utility out of your flooring. The foot traffic you get, the weather condition, the frequency of refinishing is some factors that you must take into consideration when you are determining the finish for your floor. The ease of maintenance also depends on the type of finish you choose, making it an important factor while choosing engineered hardwood.
Superior quality engineered hardwood can last as long as solid hardwood if taken care of well. You can easily choose the best flooring when you have a clear conception of the benefits of this flooring type and choose wisely from a reputed brand. A professional at the store can guide you best regarding choosing the quality flooring.