Engineered wood has many benefits, making it ideal for flooring, furniture, and cabinetry.
But despite its ever-increasing popularity, there are still many questions about its applications, advantages, and limitations.
So what are some of the most common questions about engineered wood that you need to know before deciding if it’s the right option?
Most questions about engineered wood revolve around its composition, usage, and limitations. Homeowners often wonder if engineered wood is a real type of wood, its cost, its pros, and whether it’s designed to last. Moreover, engineered wood is often compared to real wood, laminate, and vinyl planks.
If you want to know more about engineered wood, its pros, cons, and applications, you couldn’t be in a better place.
Let’s answer some of the most asked questions about engineered wood.
Engineered wood is a composite material comprising real wood and materials such as veneers, fibers, strands, and other pieces of wood. While it doesn’t count as real wood, it contains glued-together layers of wood.
Although engineered wood does not have the properties of solid wood, it’s still widely viewed as a reliable, eco-friendly material that you can use in various applications, from cabinetry to furniture and flooring.
Most engineered wood products include a hardwood veneer (thin layer) at the top to create that much-desired solid wood appearance.
High-quality engineered wood can last as long as products made from solid wood. As long as it is properly maintained, some products, like engineered wood flooring, can last 20 to 30 years. It’s not unusual to find well-maintained engineered wood products lasting over 30 years.
While engineered wood is designed to last, excess humidity can affect its lifespan.
Areas with high moisture levels, like kitchens and bathrooms, can make the wood swell or warp over time.
Poor installation can also shorten the lifespan of engineered wood.
Engineered wood has its unique set of pros and cons that make it an excellent choice for cabinetry and flooring; however, it can’t reasonably be considered a better option than natural wood as it comes down to personal preferences.
Compared to real wood, engineered wood is more resistant to twisting and warping due to the cross-grain pattern that gives it more stability.
Engineered wood is also considerably cheaper and more eco-friendly than solid wood, which are crucial factors to consider when deciding between wood types.
The better option between engineered wood and laminate comes down to personal preferences. In terms of durability, however, engineered wood scores higher as it can last up to 30 years if well maintained. Laminate is scratch resistant, a feature that makes it suitable for high-traffic areas.
Laminate is usually more affordable than engineered wood and much easier to install. You’ll also appreciate its uniform appearance and feel, as it contains synthetic materials like melamine and high-density fiberboard (HDF).
What are The Pros and Cons of Engineered Hardwood?
Some of the main pros of engineered hardwood include durability, ease of installation, cost-effectiveness, wood-like appearance, and its ability to be refinished. Cons include thickness limitation (can’t be refinished many times) and limited repairability. It’s also not as authentic as real wood.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of engineered hardwood:
- Durable. It comprises glued layers of wood (arranged in a cross-grain pattern) and is less likely to split or warp than solid wood.
- Easy to install. You can install engineered hardwood flooring on different types of subfloors.
- Can be refinished. While you can’t refinish engineered hardwood as often as hardwood, you can still do it once or twice for a refreshed look.
- Appearance. Engineered hardwood usually has a natural wood-like appearance.
- Not authentic like solid wood. Despite engineered hardwood’s natural wood-like appearance, it’s still not as authentic as solid wood.
- Can’t be refinished several times. Unfortunately, due to its relatively thin veneer layer, you can’t sand and refinish engineered hardwood as often as solid wood.
- Hard to repair. Repairing a plank of engineered hardwood is usually complicated or, at times, even impossible.
- Moisture sensitivity. Although more moisture-resistant than wood, engineered hardwood is susceptible to excess moisture or humidity.
The better option between vinyl plank and engineered hardwood depends on several factors, including your budget, personal preferences, and where you plan to install it. Vinyl requires little maintenance, is easier to install, and is cheaper than engineered hardwood.
Vinyl planks will work better if you’re looking to save on costs. However, its easy installation also makes it ideal for inexperienced DIY enthusiasts.
But if you want something that resembles solid wood, we’d recommend settling for engineered hardwood. Its design lasts longer and withstands moisture better than solid wood.
Engineered wood is not 100% waterproof and is susceptible to water or moisture damage. However, some types of engineered wood are designed to be more water-resistant, meaning they can better withstand excessive moisture.
You can find some engineered wood flooring with water-resistant or waterproof coatings. However, they are still not completely waterproof.
It’s best to clean up messes immediately after they occur to enhance the durability of engineered wood. Standing water can easily damage and reduce the longevity of engineered wood flooring.
Most high quality engineered wood won’t scratch easily, at least not as easily as solid wood. However, heavy foot traffic and sharp objects can scratch engineered wood. While most engineered woods are designed to withstand scratches, poor-quality products are highly susceptible to scratches.
If you want to increase the durability of your engineered wood, it’s best to go for products with thick wear layers. Thick wear layers help provide additional protection against foot traffic, moisture, and scratches.
Engineered wood is strong and sometimes even more robust than solid wood. This is due to its construction, which involves bonding multiple layers of planks and wood veneers together. The quality of wood used, the number of layers, and the thickness also contribute to overall strength.
Engineered wood is appreciated for its dimensional stability as it’s constructed by bonding several layers of wood with alternating grain orientations.
This makes engineered wood less likely to warp, contract, and expand due to changes in temperature and humidity.
Engineered wood’s design resists moisture and humidity, meaning it’s less likely to rot than solid wood. This is because engineered wood usually comes with sealed top layers that prevent moisture from penetrating, in addition to having a moisture-resistant core.
As we’ve established throughout the article, engineered wood is an excellent alternative to solid hardwood. It has unique pros and cons but isn’t necessarily better than other types of wood.
Compared to solid wood, engineered wood is more affordable and moisture-resistant. However, you’ll still need to take good care of engineered wood to ensure it serves you long into the future.
You should also carefully choose the right type of engineered wood for your application, as some types work better in moist and humid conditions than others.
For more information about using eco-friendly alternatives to natural wood in your building projects, read our article, “Recycled Plastic Lumber Vs. Regular Wood (Pros And Cons)“.