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Make no mistake, engineered hardwood flooring is genuine wood. After installation, there is no way to tell it from solid hardwood flooring just by looking. What makes engineered hardwood flooring different is that it is a “sandwich” of 1/16″ to 1/8″ of finished wood engineered onto two layers of plywood. This use of materials is what reduces the price of the product. But there are times when its better to have plywood underneath and the engineered wood flooring is a better choice. Because the middle layer of plywood is laid cross-ways to the finished layer, the construction of engineered wood adds additional strength and increased moisture barrier to the flooring.
The top layer comes pre-finished, which means that it’s already sanded and sealed. As soon as the floor has been laid, you can walk on it. By contrast, unfinished solid hardwood must be sealed, and this requires waiting time before use. (Note: solid hardwood is available pre-finished, as well.)
Whatever species of solid hardwood, there is an equivalent species of engineered wood flooring. For example:
Engineered Wood Flooring Can Be Sanded
The advantage of engineered wood flooring over laminate flooring is that most engineered wood can be sanded when inevitable scratches and dings develop. There are several things to keep in mind, though:
– Limited Sanding: Engineered flooring cannot be sanded more than 1-3 times (depending on the thickness of the finish layer).
– Professional Sanding Recommended: Because of the low tolerance for failure with sanding engineered wood, you should always have a professional do the sanding. It is very easy to gouge your engineered wood floor, revealing the plywood underneath.
Engineered wood flooring works well in kitchens, basements, and bathrooms where light moisture might be present. Still, it doesn’t hold up to potentially wetter areas such as basements, or kid’s bathrooms whose floors tend to see much more moisture than the average.
Engineered flooring, though more expensive than laminate, provides better value in the long-run because it has that “real” wood look and it can be periodically sanded to revive the wood grain and repair post-installation scrapes and scratches.