Engineered Hardwood Flooring Pros and Cons List
Genuine hardwood floors are beautiful pieces of art when they are installed correctly. But they are also very expensive. Engineered hardwood flooring is formed of some kind of composite, usually plywood or fiberboard, with a very thin hardwood veneer over the top. This gives you the look of a hardwood floor, unlike laminate flooring, which duplicates the look but does not match it exactly. There are several pros to using engineered hardwood flooring in your home, but there are also several cons as well.
List of Pros of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
1. Moisture Barrier
Traditional hardwood floors are plagued by moisture problems. This is not an issue with engineered hardwood flooring. The multiple layers underneath the hardwood veneer serve as a moisture barrier. This helps prevent your floor from swelling or warping as humidity rises and falls.
2. Easier Installation
Putting in a new floor is a fairly major project to tackle, but the ambitious do-it-yourselfer will find engineered hardwood easy to work with. Engineered hardwood was designed to be glued in place over a cement slab. This is a huge advantage over solid wood flooring, which has to be nailed in place. Floating floors that lock together tongue-and-groove style are also popular now, though they do require some finesse to install correctly. If you get professional installation, they could have your new floor in within one day of its delivery. On your own, you’ll still find it to be a very manageable job. Solid hardwood installation is best left to the pros, which will greatly increase the overall cost of the project.
3. Cheaper than Hardwood
Not only will you save on installation costs if you decide to put your new floor in yourself, but the engineered hardwood flooring itself is much cheaper than the hardwood it copies. This is because so much less wood is needed to make the finished product. The difference is much higher when choosing exotic wood for your floors or a very popular wood like maple. This difference in price is predicted to become more and more pronounced as exotic trees become more rare and precious. Do your part and shop around for flooring harvested from sustainably managed forests.
There are a variety of factors that affect the lifespan of your engineered hardwood floor, including how thick the top veneer is. But for the most part, these floors can last as long as their solid counterparts, and in some cases even longer. If you buy finished flooring, make sure the factory applied a multiple coats of a heavy finish that will protect your floor from wear and tear. If you buy unfinished flooring, don’t skimp on the stain and seal that you choose to apply. The higher quality the finish is, the longer your floors will last.
List of Cons of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
1. Difficult to Repair
Everybody likes to think that their new floor is going to look perfect forever, but the fact is, accidents happen. When they do, making repairs to your engineered hardwood floor can be difficult. If your flooring is glued down, it can be very difficult to get back up without damaging the floor around it. And if you used tongue-and-groove flooring, you might need to dismantle half of your floor to get to the damaged pieces. The new flooring that you replace it with, even if it is from the same manufacturer, may not match the rest of your floor exactly. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to buy a little extra when you install the floor and keep it around for circumstances like this.
2. Limited Refinishing
Engineered hardwood floors generally need less maintenance than solid flooring, but they could still use sanded down and refinished from time to time. With a genuine hardwood floor, you can do this as much as you want. With engineered hardwood, you need to be careful. Because the top layer is just a veneer, you can sand right through it if you aren’t careful. The thinner the veneer, the more careful you have to be. For most floors, 2-3 refinishes are all that they can take before the entire floor needs to be replaced.
3. More Expensive than Other Flooring
If you are dead set on having a hardwood floor that contains some degree of real wood, then engineered hardwood flooring is the cheaper option. But it is still much more expensive than laminate, tile, and carpeting. If you are straining your budget, consider using laminate flooring to get the look without the price. You are much better off with a high quality laminate than a cheap engineered hardwood made out of low quality materials and a very thin veneer.
4. Water Damage
Engineered hardwood floors are resistant to moisture damage in the air or over concrete. But any water spilled on them should be wiped up immediately. As with any wood floor, never use a wet mop to clean. Make sure you put a mat under any pet dishes to protect your floor from drips. If water stains do develop, they often fade away within a few weeks to a month, but the finish may crackle a little as a result. Waxing your floors as you would hardwood helps prevent this, although it also offsets the low maintenance benefit that attracts many people to engineered hardwood in the first place.
No flooring is perfect. If you want the look of real hardwood in your home, engineered hardwood floors are an excellent way to achieve that without the cost and hassle of real hardwood. Just be prepared to deal with the little issues that come along with all the benefits.