How to choose engineered wood flooring

If you are looking for a durable, long lasting and realistic alternative to solid wood, engineered wood flooring could be the ideal choice for your project

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Nothing beats the warmth and charm of a wooden floor. If you are thinking about laying one, but are put off by the potential wear and tear, and high maintenance, then consider using engineered wood instead. It is easy to lay and can be used in places where solid wood boards aren’t recommended, such as basements, which can have higher than normal moisture levels, or rooms prone to high humidity or fluctuations in temperature.

Most engineered flooring can be used in conjunction with underfloor heating, although it will need to be acclimatised before fixing. Once installed, it can be hard to distinguish from solid wood flooring.

How much does engineered wood flooring cost?

Compared to other wood effect flooring, particularly laminate, engineered wood can seem expensive. Most products do come with a manufacturer’s guarantee, from 10 years up to a lifetime, because of its durability and long lifespace. So, when you consider how long it will last, it can be a cost-effective solution. Prices start from around £30 per m² to in excess of £100 per m². Some designs cost more than £300 per m².

How is engineered wood flooring made?

Unlike other alternatives to solid wood flooring, engineered wood flooring is usually made entirely of timber. The floorboards are constructed of three or four core layers, usually plywood, which are stacked in a cross-grain configuration and bonded together under heat and pressure for stability and durability. Some options have an environmentally friendly core made from recycled wood fibre. The planks are usually 1-2cm thick, with a top layer of solid wood veneer.

Can I fit it myself?

Many manufacturers recommend professional fitting for a perfect finish, but as most of the ranges now come as a floating floor with a click-lock system, competent DIYers will be able to install it themselves. The advantage of this type of flooring is that if you make a mistake, with most systems, you can simply ‘unclick’ the planks and re-lay them.

As with most flooring, it is often the cutting out around door frames, corners and awkward spaces that shows the difference between a professional installation and a floor laid by the homeowner, so consider the professional option if you have invested a lot in the planks.

The choice of underlay is another important factor, as it not only protects the floor but provides thermal and sound insulation. Always use the type recommended by the manufacturer.

Where to lay engineered wood

Engineered wood flooring is suitable for virtually any room. If you are considering an engineered floor in a bathroom, confirm with your supplier that your chosen flooring is appropriate. Some examples aren’t designed for rooms with high moisture, and could become damaged over time.

Engineered wood flooring maintenance

Generally, engineered wood flooring is supplied pre-treated and finished, so there is no need for sanding, oiling or varnishing, and you can walk on it straight away.

Once laid, it should be treated as solid wood flooring and swept regularly or vacuumed using a brush setting. Mop up any spills immediately. Clean with a damp mop but don’t saturate the surface or allow it to become too wet, as this can cause damage. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions as to whether the boards require regular lacquering or oiling. As with most natural products, sunlight can affect the wood’s colour over time.

To prevent scratches and damage, fit felt pads or castors to items of furniture that might be moved across the floor and bear in mind that heeled shoes will dent wooden flooring. If the boards do become scratched or lightly damaged, all is not lost, as most engineered wood flooring can be sanded a couple of times during its life. It is recommended that you use a professional for this job, though, as the veneered top layers are thin.

Where can I find a reputable fitter?

The best route is to get a personal recommendation, but if friends and family can’t help, then most flooring retailers will either offer a fitting service or recommend local installers. Otherwise, use websites such as Check a trade or Rated people for information and comments from other homeowners in the local area. The National Institute of Carpet & Floorlayers can also give you a list of its members near you.