Engineered wood may sound like a synthetic wood. In other words, it’s not a wood at all but perhaps a plastic, calling to mind the imitation wood dashboards of some cars or the ‘wood effect’ description of the casing of a piece of electronic equipment, which immediately tells you it’s not real wood at all.
What is engineered wood?
Laminated wood bonds layers of wood together. Laminate is a common form of engineered wood, but shouldn’t be confused with the other artificial laminated types often used for flooring.
What are the advantages over hardwood?
Low waste – scraps of wood can be used to manufacture engineered wood such as odds and ends from sawmills and other ‘wood waste.’ Also, because it uses combinations of different woods, a lesser-used type of wood can be deployed, thus utilising wood varieties that aren’t used often instead of over-using those that are.
Low manufacturing costs – the relative affordability of engineered wood makes it financially accessible to more people. Flat pack furniture is often made of engineered wood due to its relatively low weight and low manufacturing costs.
Flexible applications – due to it being man-made, it’s possible to provide wood to suit many applications especially when certain colours and finishes are required. There are no limits based on the type and colour of the wood – it’s possible to match even detailed finish requirements, such as a specific rustic look. Using modern paints, stains and varnishes is comparatively easy on engineered wood.
The same advantage applies to other requirements such as strength; wood can be developed to the required specifications. In the case of wood flooring, engineered wood can be laid in places where hard wood maybe cannot, such as on heated floors or over concrete.
Workability – various carpentry activities such as cutting, drilling and jointing can usually be more easily undertaken with basic tools and sometimes by those without several years’ experience and know-how. Plywood can be bent and curved without losing any strength.
Easier to install – when used for something like wood flooring, engineered wood has benefits over hard wood in terms of costs, ease and time. It’s a shorter process to install because of the reduced preparation, and the distinct possibility of not needing to hire a specialist to fit it.
There’s no need for a plywood sub-floor, and it can be nailed straight over joists. Once it’s laid, it can be used immediately whereas hard wood floors will require finishing, which necessitates a wait before anyone can walk on them. Engineered wood usually has a surface just as durable as a hard wood type and also tends to fit more snugly into the available pace.
A popular option
Engineered wood is a popular choice, even when financial considerations aren’t the main factor. For example, man-made wood is the leading choice for wooden floors globally.
The idea that you are helping to preserve and make the most of a renewable resource could also be a consideration when deciding between engineered wood and hardwood.
Stephen MacVicar runs Green Apple Flooring, a specialist in wooden floors and laminates. Green Apple Flooring is based on Essex and deliver all over the UK.