This guide explains what engineered wood flooring is, the different types of finishes and species available to help you decide which is best for you.Written by: Yarl Christie
What is Engineered Wood Flooring?
Engineered wood flooring has become a popular choice for homeowners. Providing the look of solid wood without the high price tag, it is a durable and luxurious flooring solution.
There are hundreds of engineered floors to choose from, each with its own unique construction and finish. Here, you’ll discover a brief guide to this type of flooring and the different types available.
How Engineered Planks are Made
Engineered wood flooring looks just like solid wood flooring, only it is made up of multiple layers. There is a base layer, core layers and then a top layer (veneer), providing remarkable durability when compared to solid wood flooring.
The top layer is always made from solid wood. This is what provides the floor with its real wood appearance. However, it is the core and base layers which differ from its real wood counterpart.
The core of engineered wood floors can either consist of multi-ply or 3-ply construction. With multi-ply floors, they feature several plywood layers which make up the core of the floor. The 3-ply floors on the other hand only contain three layers in total, with a single, rather than multiple, core layer. This means, if you’re looking for durability, the multi-ply engineered wood floors are the better option.
Its unique layered construction means engineered wood flooring is more stable and less prone to warping than solid wood. For this reason, it can typically be installed with underfloor heating, adding to its comfort in colder weather. You’ll also find engineered wood floors are easier to install than solid wood products.
The majority of engineered wood floors boast a solid oak veneer. However, you’ll also find walnut, maple and beech varieties. Each will impact how the floor looks in the home, alongside the type of finish they utilise.
How your floor looks will be heavily influenced by the species of wood it is made from. There are several species to choose from including:
Oak: Oak is by far the most popular species used to create engineered wood flooring. It can either be made from red oak or white oak. They look similar, but white oak is considered slightly tougher. With red oak floors, they mostly feature undertones of pink. White oak floors on the other hand, tend to have golden or brownish grey undertones.
Engineered oak floors are some of the toughest on the market. They also provide a more traditional look, ensuring they fit in with a wide range of interiors. Due to how easy it is to source, you will also find oak style floors are cheaper than some other species.
Maple: Mostly found in Canada and North America, Maple provides a creamy, pale colour. These floors are available in different grades. Some will feature very distinctive mineral streaks, while others will have very few imperfections.
Maple is known to be one of the hardest woods. This makes engineered maple floors some of the most durable on the market.
Walnut: Walnut floors boast a luxurious, dark design. They tend to feature more unique grain patterns, alongside striking knots, and burrs. Their dark colouration helps to hide signs of wear and tear. However, be aware that if they are installed in areas of natural sunlight, they will fade over time.
Engineered walnut floors are known for being exceptionally durable. This allows you to install them safely in high-traffic areas.
Ash: Strong, flexible, and light, Ash floors are great for family homes. They look similar to maple floors, offering a pale and creamy look. However, unlike maple, ash will go darker when exposed to natural sunlight.
Ash floors are not as common as some other species. This means they can be a little more expensive.
Beech: With beautiful pink undertones, Beech wood benefits from a lightly speckled surface. This gives Beech floors a lot of character. It has almost the same level of hardness as oak flooring, and it is particularly effective at resisting dents. You will find Beech engineered wood floors are available in a range of beautiful designs.
The different laying patterns
Engineered wood floors also come in a range of different laying patterns. They include 1,2 and 3-strip designs, alongside Herringbone and Chevron patterns.
1-strip planks: You will find 1-strip planks offer a continuous design. They are made from a single piece of wood, creating a wide plank design. These types of floors really help to open out a room.
2-strip planks: Floors with a 2-strip design are cut down the middle. There is a small gap between the two strips of wood, giving it the appearance of two separate planks.
3-strip planks: Floors with 3-strip planks feature two cuts in each plank. This creates the illusion that there are three separate planks.
Herringbone: Floors with a Herringbone design are highly sought-after. They consist of small left-sided and right-sided planks. When installed, it creates a unique zigzag pattern, giving it a luxurious look. The ends of Herringbone floors are cut at a 90-degree angle.
Chevron: Chevron style floors are similar in appearance to Herringbone. However, they are cut at a 45-degree angle. They also feature less of a staggered effect than the Herringbone designs.
The type of finish you choose for the floor will impact its overall looks. There are a lot of types of finishes available. Learn more about each one below…
Bespoke – Bespoke finished floors are made to your own specifications. They can be adjusted to match your own measurements, finish and species of wood. The majority of our bespoke floors are made from oak due to its versatility. Choose this finish if you want to have full control over the finished product.
Brushed – Brushed engineered floors offer a rustic design. The surface of the wood is brushed to reveal the harsh grains underneath. They contain more knots and shading than other finishes. This creates a luxurious effect. The brushed effect today is mostly achieved through machinery. If you’re looking for an affordable yet luxurious look, a brushed floor is ideal.
Brushed and lacquered – You can also choose to have a brushed and lacquered finish. These floors have a rustic design, with a smooth finish. The lacquer protects the surface while adding a shiny appearance. This creates a more modern looking floor. They also require little maintenance and will hide scratches and signs of wear and tear easily.
Brushed and oiled – Brushed floors can also come with an oiled surface. This produces a more natural look than lacquer. The oil seeps through the surface and protects it from within, ensuring a long-lasting finish. You get the same rustic effect, only with a protective, tough coating.
Distressed – Out of all of the different types of finishes, distressed provides the most striking look. These floors appear to be worn away and they feature a textured surface. Most distressed floors are created from rustic grade wood, so they have an antique style appearance.
Handscraped – If you want a luxurious looking engineered wood floor, the Handscraped finish is a great choice. It is very similar to a brushed finish, only it has been scraped by hand. This means that no two planks will ever be the same. The floors provide a rustic feel to the room and they are slightly more expensive than the brushed varieties.
Handscraped and lacquered – You can also purchase Handscraped flooring with a lacquered finish. This gives the floor a glossy, sophisticated look. The lacquer really protects the Handscraped surface, ensuring it doesn’t easily get worn away.
Lacquered – With lacquered engineered flooring, you can choose from matt or satin lacquer. Both provide a shiny surface and excellent protection against wear and tear.
Matt lacquered engineered wood floors provide a similar finish to oiled and waxed floors. They are resistant against scratches and everyday wear and tear, alongside being fade resistant. Satin lacquered floors provide a slightly glossy look. This gives it a smooth appearance, while also protecting the surface against scratches and wear and tear.
Oiled – Oiled finishes provide the most natural looking finish. It does need to be reapplied more frequently than lacquered flooring. However, you’ll find this typically needs to be done once every 10 years or so, depending upon how much wear and tear it is exposed to. This type of finish also doesn’t provide the same level of protection as lacquered flooring. This means it is best used in low traffic areas.
Unfinished – This type of engineered wood flooring allows you to apply your own finish. This gives you great flexibility over how it looks and performs. When choosing the type of finish for your engineered wood floor, consider how you want it to look, alongside how durable you need it to be. You’ll find unfinished floors are generally the cheapest option due to the cost of having to finish them yourself.
These are the different types of finishes you can choose from. Make sure to really think about what type of finish you need before buying. Each has its own set of pros and cons to keep in mind.
The Different Grades of Engineered Wood
As well as being able to choose from a variety of finishes, you can also select different grades. The most common grades available include:
Rustic grade floors tend to have a natural, striking effect. The planks feature beautiful imperfections for a truly authentic look. These types of floors help you to produce a more country cottage feel to the home and it’s one of the most popular grades chosen by homeowners.
Prime grade floors aren’t as common, but they provide an unrivalled high-quality appearance. They contain few imperfections, producing a much smoother look. They boast a contemporary feel, making them ideal for those seeking a more modern wood effect.
Where Can Engineered Floors be Installed?
Engineered wooden floors can be used in most areas of the home. As they aren’t prone to the same level of warping and damage as solid wood flooring, they can be installed in the kitchen provided they are well maintained.
Although they are more moisture resistant than solid wood, it is still worth avoiding using them in bathrooms and other high-moisture areas. The most common areas to use engineered wood flooring include the lounge, dining room, bedroom and hallway.
As you can see, engineered wood comes in a variety of options. Before choosing an engineered wood floor for the home, be sure to pay attention to the grade and finish. This will ultimately impact how the floor looks once it’s been installed.
If you are interested on ordering some samples or seeing what we have available to buy online then you can browse our engineered wood floors here.