There are two types of wood flooring — solid and engineered. FineWoodLab main focus is engineered wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring features three layers: top layer of hardwood veneer, middle layer of plywood, block or HDF (high density fibre) and bottom layer for balancing purpose. All layers are glued together during manufacturing process.

Engineered wood flooring with block or HDF core is often called "3-layer" while engineered wood flooring with plywood core is called "multi-layer". Because of this "layered" construction, engineered wood flooring is more dimensionally stable than solid wood flooring. In other words it will not contract or expand as much due to changes in humidity or temperature.

Engineered wood veneers are made from real wood, so they have the natural characteristics of the selected wood species. There are three different ways of cutting the veneer for the engineered wood flooring that, along with thickness, has an impact on price. The three methods of cutting the veneer include:

  • Dry solid-sawn — In this process wood dries out slowly. Humidity is kept at a very low level, so the moisture inside wood cells is not affected. This is the most expensive way to cut veneers but the whole process helps to reduce the risk of cupping.
  • Rotary-peel — At first wood logs are boiled for the certain time and at the certain temperature. After that each log is peeled with a blade and then pressed flat and dried. This way of cutting veneer is characterised by very low waste. However, as the drying process is fast, wood is subjected to cupping and warping as it tries to revert to its original shape.

  • Sliced-peel — Involves boiling the log for a certain amount of time at a certain temperature to prepare the wood. After the wood has been prepared, it is sliced from the end and then pressed to create a veneer.
  • The thickness of the veneer ranges from 0.6 mm to 6 mm. The thicker the veneer, the more expensive the flooring is. For people who are planning to refinish the flooring at some point, it is important to consider the thickness because unlike a solid hardwood floor, the engineered type can only be sanded and refinished so many times. The thicker the veneer, the more times it can be sanded and refinished, however, it is still limited. Once installed, removing a vent to inspect the flooring from the side can provide an idea of the remaining thickness on the veneer.
    Cannot be sanded & refinished:
    Engineered wood floors with veneer thickness less than 2mm Hand scraped engineered floors, regardless of veneer thickness
    Can be sanded & refinished:
    Engineered wood floors with veneer thickness of 2mm or greater
    Note: Sanding and refinishing an engineered wood floor with a veneer thickness of 2 mm to 2.5 mm is best left to a professional. Engineered wood core is usually plywood which is the more traditional core material. The number of plies used to create the plywood core may vary anywhere from 2 to 10, and while a 3 ply board is not going to be as stable as say a 5 ply board would be, this is not enough to be a deciding factor unless this flooring is going to used over a radiant floor heating system. Generally speaking, the more plies in the plywood, the higher the price. The species used in the construction of most plywood ranges from 500 (Poplar) to 1200 (Birch) on the Janka Hardness Scale. The higher the core rating, the better the floor will resist unsightly dents and gouges caused by heels, falling dishes, and whatever else that might crash to the ground. Though it’s not the core that takes most of the abuse, it supports the layer that does.
    While plywood is widely viewed as superior to HDF, the fact is that HDF is more stable, more resistant to moisture and considerably harder than the plywood used for engineered floors. High density fibreboard (HDF) is a type of engineered wood product. It’s made from wood fibre extracted from chips and pulped wood waste. HDF for flooring is similar but much harder and denser than particle board or medium density fibreboard (MDF) for flooring. It has a density greater than 50 pounds per cubic foot or 800 kg per cubic meter. This makes for a perfect stabilising material for laminate floors and engineered hardwood flooring. HDF for flooring cannot be used outside because it absorbs water. A tempered form of hardboard is made by adding oil that becomes a polymer when the board is formed under high temperature and pressure. This gives it resistance against moisture, hardness, and strength. This tempered hardboard can be used in construction siding.

    Lacquer is a UV-hardened multi-layered coating system that protects the floor by forming a surface protecting against abrasion, dirt and micro-scratches. A lacquer finish is ideal in a room where you anticipate either high or heavy footfall or where you want a gloss or high gloss finish. The good thing about a lacquered finish on your floor is that it becomes somewhat water resistant. That said, it’s never a good idea to splash lots of water about on any wood floor. The one downside of a lacquered wood floor is that it has a tendency to show scratches more easily than an oiled floor. Because of this, when the floor finally ends up looking tired and worn, the best course of action is normally a re-sand and re-finish. The protection offered by lacquered wood finish is arguably the toughest of all and this is probably why, in the good old days, gyms and dance halls were finished in this way, rather than simply waxed or oiled. That said, because lacquer sits on top of the wood, when it is worn away with wear and tear, the bare wood is left exposed and susceptible to damage. Lacquer comes in high gloss, gloss and matt finishes. All of that said, even a matt finish tends to have a bit of a shine to it. So when you’re choosing a lacquered finish for your floor, it’s important to be aware of the shine that you’ll get. One of the best things about lacquered finish wood flooring is that spills, if they’re wiped up reasonably quickly, won’t seep into the body of your floor. The main downside when you choose a lacquer is that it tends to scuff and scratch more easily than an oiled finish, so it’s doubly important to invest in really great doormats and sweep or vacuum regularly.

    Oil finish penetrates the structure of the wood, emphasising its natural qualities and beauty. An oiled finish is the perfect solution when you’re looking for a natural looking finish for your wood floor. Generally speaking, this solution will give you a nice natural, matt look. Although oil wood flooring is slightly higher maintenance on an ongoing basis than lacquered wood flooring, it tends to need fewer major interventions because the protection goes deeper than the surface. Unlike lacquered finish, when the top layer of oil finish gets worn away, there is still a level of protection underneath. And like any wooden floor, if you protect it with good doormats, and sweep or vacuum it regularly and give it a light mopping, it’ll stand the test of time nicely. The good thing about oiled wood flooring finish is that it goes deep into the heart of the wood and provides not only protection on the surface, but into the core too, which means that your wood is protected to the max. Oiled wood flooring has a really natural look and enables the colour of the wood to deepen over the years. The great thing about oiled finishes is that your floor looks as if it has no protection applied whatsoever. What’s more, there really are no disadvantages of this type of finish.

    There are various surface types of engineered wood flooring. Surface treatment is performed just before applying the coating like lacquer or oil.

    Smooth — Polished finish with no structure. Usually associated with higher gloss level.

    Brushed — The most common finish achieved by using special brushes over engineered wood planks.

    Handscraped — Handscraped surface is a waved structure that can be obtained by special machinery or more irregular manual work.

    Distressed — Various woodworking activities like chiseling or hammering. It gives a unique look to every single wood plank.

    Engineered floor planks are made with either a traditional tongue and groove edge locking method or with a glueless click-lock edge method that requires no glue and allows the pieces to snap together to create a snug fit. This is the easiest do it yourself installation method.