Engineered hardwood floors are wooden floors made with multiple layers of wood adhered together, rather than one plank cut from a single timber, to create flooring planks available in multiple sizes and thicknesses. The top layer, often referred to as the veneer, is made of the species of wood desired to be seen. The bottom layer is also made of wood, but not necessarily the same species as the top layer. In the middle is a core built from 5 to 7 layers of plywood that crisscross in different directions. The species of wood uses for these core layers will vary depending on the quality of the product. Higher quality engineered wood products will boast core layers made of higher grade hardwoods.
This crisscross construction of the core layers creates a highly stable core that is less likely to expand, contract or shift when exposed to moisture, humidity and temperature. This makes engineered wood flooring a great option in rooms that are subject to moisture (like basements) or over concrete slab and radiant heating systems. Often times engineered hardwood products are warrantied for use in rooms where solid hardwood would not be warrantied, such as below grade.
Engineered Hardwood and Laminate are both hard surface products made of multiple layers of materials and both can have the look of beautiful natural wood, but only engineered hardwood is made from real wood. Laminate is comprised primarily of a wood fiber core produced from recycled wood fibers, sometimes referred to as a high-density fiber (HDF) core, with an image of the desired flooring printed on top and coated with a durable wear layer. With the help of modern printing and embossing technologies laminate can be made to look and feel like wood, stone, porcelain or other flooring products while still having the same compressed wood-fiber layer. In contrast, the grain and texture you experience with engineered hardwood is the real deal, a layer of natural wood cut from an actual wooden timber. In some cases the core layer of engineered hardwood may also be a HDF core instead of layers of real wood or plywood, but the top veneer will always be real wood.
No. The natural enemy of wood floors is water and other forms of moisture. Prolonged exposure to water or fluctuations in humidity can cause hardwood floors to swell or warp, often causing irreversible damage to the floor. In some cases engineered hardwood may resist damage due to moisture better than solid wood floors, but good maintenance of engineered hardwood still requires diligent cleaning up of any spills on the floor and only dry-mopping. It is also important that moisture testing be done on the subfloor before installing any hardwood floors to ensure the conditions of the floor will not damage the wood over time.