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What are the advantages of Engineered Timber Flooring?

 

 

The Plywood core is the base that makes up the rest of the flooring plank apart from the Top Layer. The core's composition can differ largely from company to manufacturer but is more commonly made up from either a hardwood and soft plywood, with the best-engineered wood floors having between 6 and 12 multiple layers which are glued cross-directionally and compressed together. 

The Wear Layer - Explained 

The tongue and groove (or locking joint system in some floors) are what holds the wood flooring together when it is laid. The wear layer, as illustrated within the diagram, is the area of hardwood that is POSITIONED ABOVE THE TONGUE. With any wooden floor, you can only sand down to just above the tongue or joint system - If you expose the tongue, the floor won't have anything to lock it together. In that instance, it doesn't matter what is underneath the tongue; it is never going to be seen - and therefore why not have an engineered floor? With an engineered floor, you are helping to conserve precious hardwood timber by using only approx one-third as much wood as you would with a solid timber floor.  

Engineered Timber Floor wear layers differ in thickness between companies. Wear layer thickness directly impacts the number of future resands your wood floor will be able to handle - The thicker the wear layer, the more resands. The universal rule of thumb is to allow 1mm per resand, plus 1mm or so for a buffer zone. A 6mm wear layer ( the nearest counterpart to a solid timber floor) 4-5 resands would be normal, while a 3mm wear 1-2 resands would be the norm, and so on. Products with a thicker wear layer are inclined to be more expensive, so depending on your budget, you may choose a brand with a thinner wear layer.  

Engineered Timber Flooring - More Stable than Solid Timber Flooring The significant benefit of Engineered Timber Flooring is its increased reluctance to accept the higher and lower moisture content levels than solid hardwood flooring, which means it is much less susceptible to shrinkage, warping or cupping. This makes it perfect for Australia's humid climate conditions!

Engineered Timber Flooring - Can be Direct Glued Down Exactly like solid timber flooring, almost all engineered timber floors can be direct stuck down over epoxyed concrete slabs or plywood and wooden subfloors. *Disclaimer: Please check with the supplier to confirm what installation methods are suitable for your flooring.

Engineered Timber Floors -  Will give you a look and feel of a Solid Timber floor If the floor is installed as you would a solid floor, it will also feel just the same as a Solid Timber Floor to walk on. Once installed, the base layer is hidden underneath the floor, and nobody will know that it is not a solid timber floor. It will add the same resale value to your home.

Engineered Timber Floor -  Many options available Just like Solid Timber flooring, Engineered flooring is available in a number of different widths, lengths, and thicknesses. It is also available pre-finished, eliminating the need for sanding and finishing on site and meaning your floor is ready to use much quicker!

Prefinished Timber Floors Uses Less Precious Hardwood Resource Most engineered flooring uses approximately one-third of the amount of solid hardwood resource compared to solid timber flooring. Therefore engineered flooring is helping to conserve our precious hardwood resources!

Prefinished Timber Floor Products,  to suit most budgets Engineered flooring is now very comparable in price to solid timber flooring of equivalent thickness. Thickness directly affects the price of engineered flooring, and it is also available in thinner options for those with a smaller budget.

Prefinished Timber Flooring is Faster to Install Engineered flooring is almost always machined to a higher standard that solid timber flooring, with joint profiles for the most part being highly consistent. The boards are usually pretty straight too, and the tongue and grooves tend to maintain their size well due to being engineered, so they do not swell with moisture. Therefore engineered boards usually fit together very smoothly. On the other hand, solid timber is often difficult to install due to lower tolerances in the machining which leads to variances in joints profiles. Also, boards can take up moisture, causing the joints to swell and/or causing bowing or cupping to the whole length of the board. This is not always the case, but when it does happen, it can make the floor very difficult to install.


Less Wastage than solid timber flooring With any engineered flooring, you should be able to use every piece of flooring that you buy as it has been strictly graded and should have no structural defects or characteristics outside of the grade that you ordered. However, with solid timber flooring, there is always a percentage of product that is not usable, due to cracks or loose knots, or other structural defects.

Things to be Cautious of Before Buying Engineered Flooring

Price vs. Quality 
As with most products on the marketplace, there are some good brands and some really bad brands. Generally, you get what you pay for - so if an engineered floor is unusually cheap, it is probably poor quality. Try to buy from a reputable store that has been in the industry for a reasonable amount of time and has a wealth of knowledge on the product, rather than a cheap importer who is here today, gone tomorrow and can't help you with product information.


Compare Apples with Apples
If you are looking at a number of different products, ensure you are taking into account the plank thickness and width, and wear layer - thinner, narrower planks will usually be cheaper, but that is because they take fewer resources to make, they are not necessarily a bargain. Remember not to judge solely on price, but to compare the quality also. Check the makeup of the core - a 6-12 layer cross-directional ply will be more stable than a 3-layer product. 


Check the Warranties
Check that the product has a warranty. Often this will tell you a lot about the quality of the product - Poor quality products usually have shorter (or nonexistent) warranties, while good quality products should have a longer warranty.


For Pre-finished Engineered Floors:
Check that the floor will not need further finishing after installation. Some suppliers cheat customers into thinking their flooring is pre-finished when it is really only partially finished and will require a final finishing coat after installation. This means the supplier is able to give you a cheaper price but in the long run it may end up more expensive (and time-consuming) than a fully-finished floor. 
Be cautious of pre-finished natural oiled floors. Although they have a beautiful matte finish, most require regular maintenance oiling, a fact which some suppliers fail to advise the consumer at the point of sale. If left untended they can dry out and crack, and are then ruined. For this reason we do not supply them.

How to Choose the right Engineered Flooring Product for your Project

The first step to working out what product you need is to assess your budget and also check if there are any height requirements for the situation it will be used in and the intended installation method. 


Budget: 
Generally the thicker the product (and wear layer), the more expensive it will be. If you're on a tight budget a thinner flooring option will be a more affordable option. If your budget is unlimited, the world is your oyster - you could get the thickest flooring available, in the widest plank and with the biggest wear layer, giving you more resands.


Height Requirements: 
In some situations you there may be a height requirement you need to meet - it is wise to always check with your builder on this. For example, if you are overlaying the flooring on an existing surface and need to minimise thickness you may require a thinner product like a 15mm option. On the other hand, if laying over joists, you will need a thicker option such as 21mm to ensure ultimate stability.


Intended Installation Method: 
We usually recommend timber flooring to be installed using the direct-stick method, as it gives a firmer feel underfoot and eliminates any hollow noise. Most flooring can be direct-stuck regardless of joint system (tongue & groove or locking joint), although please check with the manufacturer. However, in some places, installers prefer to float flooring over an underlay - in which case your flooring will need a joint locking system. 


Personal preference: 
From here it all comes down to personal preference - what colours are available, whether you like the idea of a solid-equivalent thickness of floor, what plank width you prefer, etc, etc.!

Choosing an Installer

Almost more important than the product you choose, is the person you choose to install it. Installing an engineered floor is a tricky task, and we highly recommend you get a skilled flooring installer to do the job. No, not your builder - even if he thinks he can do it! Most reputable suppliers will be able to recommend a good installer for their product. If not, you could try looking online - be sure to check for positive reviews. The ultimate is an installer that is approved by the ATFA (Australasian Timber Flooring Association), as they will have done the required training to become a master at flooring installation. 

Good luck on choosing your new Engineered Timber Flooring!