Engineered wood flooring guide

Engineered wood flooring is a popular alternative to solid wood flooring. Available in all sorts of patterns, sizes and finishes, it’s a flooring choice that can be used throughout the home to deliver a stunning result.

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Made from different types of hardwood, engineered wood flooring is contemporary, classic and capable of working wonders in any room for many years to come. 

What is engineered wood flooring?

It’s wooden flooring that’s created using several layers of wood to produce something that’s hard-wearing and looks just like solid wood. The base is made from plywood-style layers of timber boards that are glued together and covered with a hardwood layer, or veneer, making it more solid than real wood.

This top layer can be made from all different types of wood, such as oak, walnut, beech, maple and ash, and varies in thickness, anything from 1 to 5mm. The thicker it is, the more equipped it is to cope with everyday wear and tear.

How long does engineered wood last?

If it’s properly maintained, engineered wood flooring can last for several years, usually up to 30 or potentially more. This longevity is all down to the way engineered wood is created.

The multiple base layers of plywood, HDF or softwood, and the way they’re then covered with a solid layer of hardwood, all combine to produce something that doesn’t just look the part, but is made to last too.

Is engineered wood difficult to maintain?

While it may be hard-wearing, this doesn’t mean engineered wood flooring doesn’t need to be maintained. If anything, it pays to take proper care of it so it looks its best and retains its beauty for many years to come. Generally speaking, lighter-coloured floors are more prone to wear-and-tear than darker floors, and require more frequent cleaning and maintenance.

Here’s some of my advice on how to care for engineered wood floors:

  • Prevent gravel, sand and other debris from becoming engrained in any gaps – by using dirt-attracting doormats and runners and regularly sweeping it before it causes any scratches
  • Put protective pads on your furniture legs – to avoid your floor getting scuffed, dented or scratched every time you use your tables and chairs 
  • Dry clean your floor – use a vacuum with a soft brush end or a dustpan and brush or broom to clear up any bits, and then use a damp, not wet, cloth or mop
  • Steer clear of using water – apply any form of water with caution because it can soak into the wooden joints and cause lifting
  • Avoid sanding – not all engineered wood flooring is designed to be sanded, so be sure to double check if it’s compatible with this treatment before reaching for the sandpaper 
  • Oil or lacquer it once a year – engineered wood floors come with either an oiled or satin or matt lacquered finish. Maintaining this finish every 12 months helps retain the attractive finish and makes it last for longer. Note: lacquer provides a barrier against everyday usage, but can wear down quickly. Meanwhile, oil soaks into the veneer, providing less of a shield, but more deep-down protection
  • Use special cleaning products – if you want to use more than a damp cloth or mop and a vacuum, brush or broom, reach for specialist cleaning products that have been formulated to clean as well as expertly care for the wood 

Where can you use engineered wood flooring?

It can be installed in numerous places, including living rooms, offices, bedrooms, stairs, hallways and landings. While it is possible to have this type of flooring in your kitchen, bear in mind that any spills must be immediately wiped up to avoid irreparable damage. It’s for this very reason that engineered wood isn’t recommended for bathrooms.

On a separate note, engineered wood flooring also happens to be compatible with underfloor heating. This is due to the fact the multi-layer design isn’t susceptible to temperature-induced wood swelling and shrinkage in the same way solid wood is.

What are the disadvantages of engineered wood?

The most common downsides are:

  1. It’s not solid wood – the most obvious disadvantage. If you are a solid wood fan, engineered wood is precisely that, engineered.
  2. It is prone to fading – when exposed to constant sunlight, engineered wood is likely to fade, which can lead to uneven flooring colours that can be difficult to even out.
  3. It needs to acclimatise – in the area where it’s going to be installed. Ideally, you need to leave your flooring out for a few days before you install it so it can adapt to the surrounding temperature and environment.
  4. It can be damaged by water – moisture-rich areas and places where there are water spillages (e.g. wet feet on the bathroom floor or water splashes from the kitchen sink) are a no, no when it comes to engineered wood, leading to warping, lifting and wider damage.

What are the advantages of engineered wood?

Some of the main benefits are:

  1. It tends to be more affordable than solid wood – due to the fact it’s made from various different types of wood that aren’t as difficult to source as solid wood, such as oak.
  2. It’s a great look-a-like – once down, engineered wood flooring can look just as attractive as solid wood flooring, complete with characteristics, such as wood grains and ridges and, of course, the wooden veneer top layer.
  3. It’s a solid flooring option – due to the way it’s constructed, i.e. a layered wood base covered with a solid veneer top.
  4. It’s designed for easy installation – most engineered wood flooring comes in separate sections that simply click and lock together. What’s more, because engineered wood flooring is such a solid, stable structure, it can be installed in numerous ways, including nailed or screwed down or floated over an underlay.

For more flooring inspiration, take a look at our Herringbone flooring guide.

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Jack Odgen

Written by:

Flooring Specialist

at ScS Coventry

30th December 2022

Jack is the Flooring Specialist based at the Coventry ScS store. Having been part of the ScS flooring team since 2019, Jack knows everything there is to know about the flooring ranges at ScS. Jack's favourite flooring is carpet as it can make a house feel more homely, has a nice underfoot feeling and can help to keep the house a little warmer.