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9 Questions to Ask Before Buying Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered hardwood is a composite product that consists of multiple layers pressed and glued together to form a durable material. The top layer is made of real wood whereas the bottom layers are made of hardwood, softwood and plywood.

Engineered hardwood is a popular choice for homeowners who want natural wooden texture on their floors, without compromising on the versatility of where the floor can be installed. However, not all engineered floors available in the market are of high-quality. Some are low-quality flooring materials that are sold at higher rates because homeowners are unable to identify the difference between them at the time of purchase.

To help you make the right decision (and get the most out of your money), let’s discuss nine key questions to ask before buying engineered hardwood flooring.

Here are 5 questions that you should ask before buying engineered hardwood floor to get the most of your money.

1) Who is the manufacturer?

Manufacturing of engineered hardwood flooring is done by following set industry standards and strict manufacturing rules. However, some manufacturers use questionable means for manufacturing, such as the use of toxic materials. Before buying engineered hardwood floors, make sure that the manufacturer is a member of a professional flooring association and complies with the industry recommendations.

2) Which adhesive is used to glue the layers?

Some manufacturers use cheaper adhesives to glue the layers of engineered hardwood floors. This can produce higher formaldehyde emissions causing health problems. They use questionable quality glues to lower the production cost and make higher profits. When buying engineered hardwood flooring, ask the seller which kind of adhesive is used to glue the layers. Purchase only those products that are free from toxic adhesives for better health and to have improved performance of your floors.

3) What is the thickness of the top layer?

Generally, the top layer thickness of engineered hardwood flooring ranges from 2 mm to 6 mm. The best thickness to ensure maximum durability of your floors is over 4mm. At the time of purchase, inquire what the thickness of the top layer is. If it is below 4mm, then don’t purchase it.

4) What is the top layer made of?

Engineered hardwood flooring is preferred because of its natural wood surface. Buying one whose top layer is not made of real wood is therefore a waste. High-quality engineered hardwood floors’ top layers are made of solid sawn wood, which is the ideal material to provide a natural wooden texture to the floors. Make sure that the top layer of your engineered hardwood is made of real wood by asking it from the retailer before buying.

5) Can engineered flooring be installed over radiant heating?

Radiant heat flooring is great for families with allergies, is highly efficient, and lowers winter energy costs. That’s why it is surging in popularity among both homeowners and builders.

If you are building or renovating your current floor and want to install radiant heat beneath your new one, your best option is engineered hardwood.

Since it is not as thick as solid hardwood, engineered hardwood leaves plenty of room for thin heating cables or tubes to lie easily beneath the floors. But not all engineered hardwood is recommended for installation over radiant heat, like engineered hardwood with plywood base layers or those types made from exotic woods. So, look for click-lock or floating engineered hardwood floors. The floorboards are glued at the seams, not nailed or glued down to the subfloor. Nor do they expand or contract with seasonal temperature changes, making them very stable. So, if you are looking for the best flooring option to install over radiant heat, engineered hardwood flooring is a great choice.

6) What is the best way to install engineered hardwood? How does it affect the overall cost of flooring?

Different types of engineered hardwood are meant to be installed differently. There are three main installation methods:

  • Floating installation
  • Glue-down installation
  • Staple/nail installation

install engineered hardwood

Which installation method is preferable for your flooring will depend on its construction, flooring profile, and plank thickness.

  • Engineered planks with five layers or more are approved for floating installation. Anything thinner could buckle or become damaged while floating.
  • If the room has a concrete subfloor, gluing the floor down will be your best option. This allows a large continuous installation with few transition pieces. If you live in a very dry or humid region, gluing the floor down will limit the floor’s expansion and contraction.
  • Since concrete and other hardboard-type subfloor materials will not hold staples or nails, you must have a wood or plywood subfloor to execute staple or nail installation. Since the boards are ‘racked’ together tightly with nail installation, it gives the best final look.

If you live in an area where the temperature cannot be controlled, gluing down is the best way to go. There is less noise associated with this type of floor, and the installation method is more structurally sound.

If you are trying to cut costs, go for a floating installation.

7)  What kind of finishings are available?

The answer will depend upon the material you choose and your preferences. For example, in general, engineered hardwood floors are finished in the factory with water-based polyurethane. Its clear finish creates a traditional hardwood look and feel. It is available in matte, high-gloss, and semi-gloss.

You can choose an oil-based finish as it lasts longer than water-based finishes. It has more depth in colour and shine and costs less than water-based polyurethane.

You can also consider lower sheen finishes as they tend to reveal scratches and small marks less than other finishes. Flat and matte finishes are trending in 2022, so you can select any finish as per your requirements and style preference.

8) How long can I expect my engineered flooring to last?

You will be pleased to learn that engineered floors are generally very durable. If properly installed and maintained, they can last for decades. The better job you do of installing and maintaining your floor, the longer it is likely to last.

Engineered flooring consists of plywood, HDF, or softwood combined with a layer of hardwood, which makes it durable. In general, you can expect an engineered hardwood floor to last 25 to 30 years before requiring replacement.

You can ensure a proper installation by acclimatizing the wood floor planks to the room where they are to be installed. This ensures that the flooring won’t warp thanks to moisture in the air. Using the proper underlay is also essential to your flooring installation.

To maintain your flooring, use a dry dust mop or vacuum every few days. This will prevent a build-up of excess dirt, which can lead to scratches. Although engineered hardwood deals better with moisture than solid hardwood floors, it is still recommended that you avoid soaking the floor. You can use a damp mop but make sure it is not fully soaked. This way, you can deal with any spills or stains to keep your engineered hardwood floor looking better for longer.

9) Is there any consumer warranty?

If you purchase engineered hardwood flooring from a reputable manufacturer, then you get a specific consumer warranty on the product. This warranty covers repair and replacement of damaged planks (depends on the manufacturer) or sometimes a refund on defective flooring. Always ask about the warranty on the product before buying to save your floors from potential problems.

Selecting the best hardwood flooring for your home is a process that should not be taken lightly. These questions are important to ask when you are buying engineered hardwood flooring, as knowing the answers would help you avoid costly mistakes. As a full-service flooring store, Amazon Hardwood is here to help you with every step of your project. If you have any other questions about engineered hardwood floors or any other materials, contact us today or stop by our showroom in Markham.