engineered hardwood
General Flooring Knowledge, Hardwood Flooring

Not all Engineered Hardwood Floors are Created Equal

With solid hardwood, you should know what you are getting – a plank of hardwood cut and milled from a single piece of wood, homogenous throughout its length, width, and depth. The same, however, cannot be said about engineered hardwood.

Several different methods are used to manufacture engineered hardwood floors. These methods often dictate the quality of engineered wood flooring. Once you understand the basics of how engineered wood floors are made, you can find the highest quality hardwood flooring in your budget.

Engineered Multi-ply vs 3-ply


Engineered wood floor constructed with hardwood veneer on top of plywood is called multi-ply engineered wood, while hardwood veneer on top of 2 thicker layers of other hardwood is called 3-ply engineered wood floor. In hardwood floors, more layers do not necessarily translate into better performance. The balance and bonding of each layer should be taken into consideration first and foremost.

Click-Lock vs Tongue & Groove

The two most popular styles used today for floating wood floors are the click together and tongue and groove style planks.

Click-lock engineered hardwood offers a glue-less installation by a self-lock system on each plank. This increases the speed of installation and also offers a hidden benefit down the road. Repairs are easier with the click together style because of the fact that you can remove the damaged planks by means of un-clicking and reinstalling each plank.

Repairing Tongue & Groove wood floors can be tricky, considering the floor planks are often glued together with hardwood flooring glue. However, Tongue & Groove engineered hardwood is more common because they are compatible with more forms of installation. These other methods include nail-down or glue-down.

Thick and Thin Veneer

The top layer (veneer) of an engineered floor is called the wear layer. The thickness of wear layers varies from paper thin 0.4 mm to super thick 6 mm. Some of these wear layers can be refinished numerous times, while others should never risk sanding through the veneer. When looking at samples, view a side profile of the hardwood to determine the thickness of the wear layer. The thickness of hardwood veneer is a huge influence on the cost of engineered wood production.

Rotary peeled vs Sawn cut veneer

Rotary-peeled veneers are often found on entry-level products. They are peeled from a wood log like apple skin. They are initially circular-shaped but are forced flat. This process increases the yield rate but is more prone to cracks from the wood’s natural tendency to curl. Most rotary-peeled hardwood will not be greater than 2 mm due to increased stress on the thick hardwood.

Dry-sawn wear layers are available in different thicknesses from 2 to 6 millimeters (about ¼ inch). They are cut when the board has been kiln-dried and offer an identical look to solid hardwood. They can also be sanded at least once.

The biggest misconception about engineered wood flooring is that the products differ in durability than solid hardwood. In fact, if given a thick wear layer an engineered hardwood offers the same durability as solid. When looking at stability (cupping or gapping) engineered flooring will outperform solid flooring, meaning you can use a wider-width product without seeing those dimensional changes as much. However, that doesn’t mean we can just ignore moisture, especially relative humidity when it comes to engineered wood flooring. Engineered flooring is designed for normal living conditions and should abide by the same guidelines for relative humidity and temperature. If an engineered floor experiences dry conditions outside the parameters defined by the manufacturer, problems may arise. The engineered product may delaminate, show face-checking, split and dry-cup—all problems that require plank replacement.

If you need more info, please contact us at And, please use the Request a Sample button to get samples of those products of most interest delivered right to your home.

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9 thoughts on “Not all Engineered Hardwood Floors are Created Equal

  1. erotik says:

    Hello, just wanted to tell you, I liked this article. Tani Lalo Zorina

  2. erotik says:

    Would love to incessantly get updated great web blog! . Jania Waldemar Diaz

  3. John says:

    I’ve got an older family member that is insisting on installing a narrow (3 – 4″) high grade semi gloss hardwood in their kitchen. I’ve been trying to explain to them about possible moisture build-up (though I don’t think they’re at much risk of damage, they take good care of their floors).

    Would you recommend against solid hardwood in this example?

    1. Andrew says:

      Solid hardwood can work in this situation, provided they understand the limitations of the material. I always tell my clients, treat your hardwood floors the way you would treat grandma’s dining room table. No one would leave a spill on grandma’s table, and neither should you on a hardwood floor. Another thing to consider, the seams between the planks are not water-tight – water could get between and beneath the planks, and cause rot, or mould. I am not saying “do not use hardwood,” but I am saying think carefully about your choice. As a compromise, maybe consider a high-end luxury vinyl that does a good job of simulating the look of hardwood.

  4. stephen says:

    I has a flooring sales man in Vancouver for over 20 years. This information is invaluable for anyone looking for wood surfaced floors. Thank you Andrew for informing people in this way.

    1. Andrew says:

      Hi Stephen, thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it.

  5. turkce says:

    Awesome post. I am a normal visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a regular visitor for a really long time. Rasia Sylvan Quitt

    1. Andrew says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words. Is there something you’d like to see in a blog post in the future?

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