Engineered or solid wood?
Also this is one of the top questions which should be considered when deciding for a wooden floor.
The answer: engineered, the proper one.
But first we should know how each one is manufactured. It is nothing complicated to understand how a board or parquet batten is made of hardwood. When approaching the engineered there is more.
The engineered wood is actually composed of one hardwood top layer and an underneath structural layer. And the heart of the engineered wood is the structural layer which should be a ply type (the proper one). Also there is a “lighter” alternative which I would avoid if possible.
Proper type of engineered board
Weak type of engineered board uniclick
As you may see there is a noticeable and important difference between the two sections. And there is no “engineering” degree required to understand that the one on the left is the proper engineered.
It matters? Of course it does because in the long term a proper built board will cope with all the inevitable stresses. So from now on when we refer to engineered wood we are talking only about the ply type (the proper one).
The ply structure is manufactured from multiple thin layers of natural wood overlapped each on top of the other with the grains disposed in 90 degrees. In between special resins are applied after which with a high vertical pressure the board is bonded together.
Now back to engineered compared to hardwood. Seen from above there is no difference between them. So what makes the difference is the inside structure.
1. We live in a humid climate. There is a considerable humidity in the air and a high risk of damp infiltration from under. These are the enemies for wood. A piece of hardwood will absorb water vapours much rapidly than a piece of engineered wood which due to its ply type structure will resist much longer.
2. Due to the high demand for natural wood the european resources have declined and the remaining ones are getting more expensive. So now is actually more cost effective to manufacture in europe engineered wood than hardwood when regarding to oak, for example. This because the amount of oak required for an engineered board is much lower than for hardwood (the ply substrate is manufactured from other less expensive species). So having said these you can imagine that all the affordable hardwood available nowadays it is not European.
Still there are a few genuine European manufacturers of hardwood which value this precious wood and keep the high standard. But this comes with a matching price.
3. Due to reasons explained above (rising price of row european wood) is difficult to obtain quality big hardwood boards (the thickness has to be increased). Here the engineered board can reach incredible sizes. The biggest board that I installed was 450mm X 4000mm. Quite huge! (you don’t want to damage a board of 1.8sqm)
4. The engineered board is less prone to expand as it is holded in place by the ply structure.
5. The engineered is incomparable more flexible and stronger than the hardwood. Glued down on a wooden sub-floor will actually strengthen the sub-floor.
The main problem is not particularly the place where the product is coming from but we should ask ourselves how it can be possible to have overseas manufactured wood at lower prices than the local (continental) one.
The answer is plain and simple: cut the production costs through
- improperly dried wood,
- inaccurate cutting machines and poorly maintained
- mixing species (for engineered)
- using softwood made to look hardwood
- poorly finishes
- using banned chemicals which can trigger allergies
- chaotically forest cutting
- underpaid workers
- and more, more, and more.