Discover how pre-finished engineered hardwood floors compare with pre-finished solid hardwood floors, and view the latest trends in hardwood floors.
The look and feel of real wood, not to mention the warm atmosphere it creates, is but one of the vast number of qualities and characteristics that continue to make it such an appealing and desirable floor type which, when maintained correctly, has an impressive lifespan that can excel beyond expectation.
There are several options available when it comes to choosing a real wood floor and, within each species, there are also ranges of designs and panel sizes to choose from. However, irrespective of species, all hardwood floors require some kind of a finish, and that also applies to engineered hardwood floors.
Engineered hardwood floors are still considered one of the greatest advances in wooden flooring, comprising, as they do, a plywood core or high-density fibreboard sandwiched between a less vulnerable wood than hardwood and a top layer of the selected natural hardwood. Engineered hardwood floors were created to relieve the mounting pressure on the environment by preventing the overtrading of exotic hardwoods, thereby preventing them from becoming extinct. In addition, when compared to its solid counterpart, engineered hardwood flooring is roughly 70% more stable when exposed to varying climatic changes.
Taking the above facts into consideration, the question arises: How do pre-finished engineered hardwood floors compare with pre-finished solid hardwood floors?
1. Durability – Both engineered and solid hardwood floors are considered durable with a long lifespan. As such, the focus should primarily fall on the type of finish used, as the finish provides the most protection against surface wear and tear. When looking for a floor that can withstand dents and heavy traffic, the hardness of the wood species should be considered.
2. Lifespan – If a good-quality engineered hardwood floor with a thick wear layer is purchased, the differences between engineered and hardwood floors are diminished. The thick wear layer means that it can also be sanded down close to the tongue and groove and refinished, just like a solid hardwood floor.
3. Price – The belief that solid hardwood floors cost more than engineered hardwoods can in some cases be disproved. When comparing a solid red oak hardwood floor with a similar red oak engineered floor then it is true; the solid red oak will be more expensive. However, if the same red oak solid wood is compared to a high-quality exotic engineered wood like tigerwood, then the engineered flooring will cost more. It is advisable to choose according to a set budget and individual style.
4. Installation – In terms of installation, unfinished solid hardwood takes the most time due to the sanding and application of finish layers on site. It’s essential to bear in mind that solid hardwood planks need time to acclimatise to their environment before being installed, while engineered floors can generally be installed immediately without acclimitization.
5. Stability – Taking acclimatisation into consideration, the primary difference between solid wood flooring and engineered flooring is the manner in which they react to moisture. Engineered flooring’s construction makes it more resistant to expansion and contraction that can occur with solid wood planks. Solid wood swells and shrinks with the changes in humidity, making engineered flooring more suited to areas exposed to a lot of moisture and humidity.
6. Appearance – There is almost no difference between the appearance of engineered and solid hardwood flooring, simply because the top wear layer of an engineered plank is the same authentic material as a solid wood plank. The main difference in appearance is between pre-finished and site-finished solid hardwood, as pre-finished floors have bevelled edges while site-finished floors do not. The choice between bevelled or unbevelled edges is a matter of personal taste.
Taking the above into consideration, it becomes clear that both pre-finished solid and pre-finished engineered wood perform equally well, but only when used in accordance with each type’s performance abilities and functionalities.
Here are some of the top trends in Hardwood Flooring for 2014:
• Wide Width Planks – In a wave of current popularity, wider (as well as longer) planks continue to be sought after in the industry. The wider planks are more susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity; therefore an alternative would be engineered hardwood. Wider planks can also make a room look larger and more contemporary.
• Not too stressed – Hand-scraped planks (producing an old and worn look) are still a favourite, but manufacturers are steering towards a more delicate and restrained effect as opposed to the heavily distressed look.
• Satin finishes – Glossy and semi-gloss are making way for satin finishes, which are also considered more practical as glossy finishes can show dents and scratches much more quickly when light reflects off them.
As with everything, some trends come and go rather quickly, while others remain relevant for years. The key is to implement according to specific design, décor and budget needs, while ensuring that the chosen wood floor has a lasting lifespan while still incorporating elements of the latest developments.