Solid Timber Flooring or Engineered
Which one is for you?
Having spent over 30 years selling and installing timber flooring, I have seen many changes and many new products come onto the market, some good and some not so good, but one of the better products has been the emergence of Engineered timber floors. The typical make up of an engineered floor is a .6mm to 6mm top layer of a timber veneer over a plywood base that is either made of pine or hardwood, the finish is often an acrylic UV cured coating or an aluminium oxide coating that is applied and is usually a semi gloss finish, please note there are many other finishes but this seems to be the most common. They can be installed as a floating floor on an underlay or can be glued directly to the surface.
answering the big questions
So where do engineered floors fit in the world of Timber Flooring? and which should you choose? Solid timber flooring or Engineered?
Over the next few paragraphs, I will share my views on these products and explain some of the pros and cons.
On a daily basis I have customers visit the showroom who will ask for a floating floor believing this is their only option after having been to a carpet shop or a store that really only deals with laminates and engineered floors.
The salesman will usually have done a spin job on them and failed to explain all of the options available to them. They usually have no idea of the differences between a laminate floor an engineered floor or a solid timber floor. I find this quite frustrating and misleading.
I believe in explaining to the customer all of the options available and all the pros and cons of each, which is what prompted me to write this article.
Firstly let me address the Engineered floors. In my opinion they are ideally suited to apartments, shops, buildings with limited access or anywhere that sanding and polishing is out of the question.
Most Engineered floors don’t come in lengths longer than 2.4lm and many are shorter. They also are packed in easy to handle bundles and this makes them able to be fitted into a goods lift, where as a solid timber flooring comes in longer lengths of up to 5.7lm. Timber of this length won’t fit into a lift without a lot of cutting first.
In apartments sound travelling through the concrete to the apartments below can be a big problem but with the advent of Acoustic Underlays, this can be easily reduced and in fact most body corporates will insist on having it fitted before allowing a timber floor to be installed.
Installation is normally completed quickly, because the surface does not need to be sanded or have coatings applied. Other advantages are the customer can move onto the floor immediately, there is no smell to contend with and the finish is dust free.
All of these things make an engineered floor a great choice in any of these environments, but are they as suitable in a home that is built on a slab, or on bearers and joists? I think that every installation needs to be looked at on its own merits, where you can have a traditional solid timber floor it should always be given due consideration.
Solid timber floors have longer and varied lengths of the boards which changes the entire look of the floor, there is a huge strength advantage over a floating floor (floating floors can not bear the same weight as a solid floor and can not span across joists).
Solid boards are designed to carry the distance between floor joists and don’t need the substrate to be as perfect as a floating floor.
There are a great deal more options in each species, grades and sizes, the solid floors have multiple grading options, some of these are Select Grade (this type of floor is absent most of the natural features and gives a clean modern look) the next is Standard Grade (this floor has a small amount of the natural features in the timber) and the third is Natural Feature Grade (these boards retain all of the naturally occurring features, such as gum vein and knots). Then you have size options as well starting at 60mm, 80mm, 85mm, 108mm, 130mm, 133mm, 180mm, 200mm, 220mm, these are not all of the sizes, and not every timber is available in all sizes, but as you can see there are a lot of options to choose from.
With solid timber flooring you get to choose the finish, not only the gloss level eg. Matt, Satin, Semi Gloss and Gloss, but also the type of coating you want to use. You may wish to use an option such as a hard wax oil because it is low or no VOC, it has a more natural look and feel and is easier to repair if damaged. That is just one type of coating and there are many including waterbased coatings, polyurethane coating, Oil based coatings, stains etc, all of these products will make the timber appear differently.
Having all these options available to you can give you exactly the look and feel you want in your home.
There are many factors to consider before choosing the right floor for your home so for good advice and to view all of the options available in one place, please visit our Coburg Showroom at 148 Gaffney St Coburg.