Once a client has decided that a hardwood floor is the right option for them, they often ask about the various types of engineered hardwood flooring. In this post we will briefly consider the three primary types of engineered hardwood flooring that are available on the market today.
Likely the most commonly available engineered hardwood floor is one that has a plywood base. In this type of floor, the base (or “core”) is made of plywood and a top-layer of the actual hardwood, called the lamella, is glued to the plywood. This hardwood top layer can range in thickness from 1mm up to 6mm. The thickness of the lamella obviously impacts the final price of the hardwood floor, as well as your ability to potentially re-sand it in the future.
The plywood base can be made up of a varying number of layers, depending on the desired final thickness of the finished floor. The quality of the plywood used can range from marine-grade Baltic Birch at the high-end, all the way down to leftover-scrap material at the low-end; not all plywood is created equal! Generally speaking, the higher the quality of plywood used the better the flooring will resist seasonal expansion and contraction and moisture. Just as a strong muscular core is the foundation of strength in a human, so to is it with an engineered hardwood floor. Also be aware that in a poorly-made floor the adhesives used to glue the various layers together of the plywood could potentially off-gas un-safe levels of VOC’s; always check for certifications which prove that the floor is safe.
An engineered hardwood flooring construction which is growing in popularity is one made with a core of SPF – a combination of quarter-sawn Spruce, Pine and Fir softwood species. In this type of construction, these species are cut and arrayed into “pickets” which run perpendicular to the direction of the hardwood lamella; thus resisting the natural expansion and contraction of the hardwood lamella. The benefit of a construction like this is that for a Canadian manufacturer such as Mirage Hardwood, these softwood species are readily available locally, and the trees re-grow rapidly. As well, for some consumers the impression of having a 100% real-wood floor (softwood in the core and a hardwood lamella) is seen as a benefit.
The final construction we will consider is the one least commonly found; one where the core is made of HDF (high density fiberboard). HDF is the core material of laminate floors, click-together cork floors, click-together linoleum floors and others. It is also used for hardwood floors where a lower-cost, click-together hardwood is desirable. It is still a real hardwood floor, just one where a hardwood lamella is glued to a HDF base rather than a SPF or plywood base. At Ethical Flooring we really like the Mirage Lock HDF floors from Mirage Hardwood because it gives you all of the made-in-Canada quality Mirage is known for at an extremely attractive price. Please note that any floating hardwood floor, regardless of the type of construction, cannot be re-sanded, so this is something you may want to take into account.
When shopping for a new hardwood floor, the various types of engineered hardwood flooring available to you should be a topic of discussion with your sales representative. To learn more about the various constructions available you can view a great resource on the Mirage Hardwood website.
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