Can I Sand & Refinish An Engineered Wood Floors?

A question we get asked a lot and a concern a lot of people have is ‘can engineered wood floors be sanded’?

Generally speaking people’s knowledge is much better than even a few years ago regarding the difference between laminates and engineered flooring. Laminate flooring is, simply put, a photo of wood, sealed onto a hardboard backing; an engineered floor is a solid piece of wood glued onto a ply base layer.

Just to be clear we are talking about engineered wood flooring here!

Engineered flooring comes either pre-finished or has a finish applied on the bare timber once the floor has been laid. We can provide our customers with both pre-finished and custom finish options.

Depending on where in the home the floor is laid and the amount of use the area has will depend on how long the floor looks good. Another important factor that often gets overlooked is how often the floor is cleaned. Cleaning with the recommended cleaner and not getting the wood too wet will keep the floor looking its best. For example, hallways and kitchens are often the areas that will begin to look shabby quickest.

Once the floor is past its best and no amount of cleaning can bring it back to life then the only alternative is to have the floor sanded and re-finished. This process removes all the old finish leaving the timber bare. Once the floor has been completely stripped it can then be stained if required and then sealed with a hard wax oil or lacquer.  This process completely transforms a room and if looked after properly, will last the homeowner for years to come.

As a general rule every time a floor is sanded you will lose about 1mm of the surface. Sometimes this can be more depending on how badly the floor is marked or damaged.

Most engineered floors have a wear layer of between 3 and 6mm with a backing of 15-21 mm; on this basis if you are looking at sanding a floor with a 3 mm wear layer it can be sanded up to twice and if it has a 6 mm wear layer it can be sanded up to 4 times. We always recommend erring on the side of caution as the last thing you want to do is sand through the wear layer!  This also depends on who is sanding the floor, so let’s say a floor has been really badly sanded the wear layer will be reduced quicker and the life expectancy of the floor will be less.

We always urge our customers to go for the thickest floor (wear layer) they can simply because the cost difference between a 3 mm and a 6 mm floor is not huge and the floor will theoretically last for a lot longer.

People are often put off by engineered wood flooring as they assume that it cannot be sanded as much as a solid wood floor. Assuming that both floors are tongue and grooved, which most floors are nowadays, then you can only sand down to the tongue (or just above it) so there is no discernible gain in the lifespan of a solid wood floor over an engineered floor.

For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today! 

Engineered Wood Flooring – Pros & Cons

Engineered wood flooring is a hugely popular choice for homeowners all over the UK. Unlike solid hardwood, which comes straight from a tree to your home, engineered wood is far more complex. A piece of engineered wood consists of several layers; with  the outer layer being veneer, a thin slice of solid wood. The core layers below this run at 90 degrees to one another, making this product far more stable than regular hardwood. Engineered wood is also very different from both laminate and vinyl flooring, as neither include any real timber.

Before choosing engineered wood for your home here are a few pros/cons:

Pros:

  • The appearance and beauty of wooden flooring is defiantly why it’s so popular, engineered wood gives you the spectacular look whilst also being practical.
  • Engineered hardwood flooring is designed to reduce moisture problems, avoiding the crowning of solid wood floors that warp with moisture. The layers that are built up to create engineered wood will block moisture and provide added strength to your floors. This will eliminate warping and swelling from moisture, making it very low maintenance.
  • Environmentally, engineered wood flooring creates less waste than solid hardwood. This is due to the way the Veneer is sliced instead of being cut with a saw; reducing the sawdust created
  • Engineered wood can be sanded and re-finished unlike lots of other flooring types, such as laminate. This allows you to freshen up your floors and change the finished if desired.
  • A vast choice of wood available to choose from, the top layer of veneer can be the wood of your choice, meaning you can get the look you want but also the hardness and strength – for example a harder wood is the better option for pet owners.
  • You can lay engineered wood over an under floor heating system which is a very popular trend at the moment throughout households.
  • Life span is a defiant pro. Engineered wood flooring is an investment that can last from 20-100 years, depending on the thickness of the veneer which determines how many times it can be re-sanded and finished.

Cons:

  • The cost is a big turnoff for consumers, however, even though engineered wood flooring is more expensive than other flooring, the maintenance costs are low and the appearance is truly spectacular. It’s also an investment and something that can add value to your home, making it appeal to buyers.
  • While Engineered Wooden Flooring can be refurbished several times, this is ultimately limited by the thickness of the veneer layer. If you re-sand too many times, you can break through to the layers of plywood which make up the core.
  • Water damage is always a risk, not from moisture but from direct contact with still water left over a period of time. This isn’t a deal breaker; it just means a bit more care and organisation.

Overall, the pros defiantly out way the cons. Engineered flooring is a brilliant option and can make a huge difference to your homes appearance. If you would like to learn more about engineered wood flooring check out one of our previous blog posts – Everything you need to know about engineered wood flooring.

If you have any queries about engineered flooring or want more information about our flooring services and options please visit our workshop, call 01962 733016 or visit www.alresfordinteriors.co.uk today.

Engineered Wood Flooring: Everything You Need To Know

What is engineered wood flooring?

Engineered wood flooring is, quite simply, timber boards which consist of more than one layer. The top layer of an engineered board is solid wood, the thickness can generally be anywhere from 2mm to 6mm. If the top solid wood layer is thicker, it can be sanded and refinished more times. By placing each layer so the grain runs vertically it becomes virtually impossible for the timber to swell or shrink, making it extremely stable compared to solid wood.

Once installed, engineered wood flooring is impossible to distinguish from solid wood flooring. Wooden flooring can add character and value to your home, whilst also adding warmth and beauty. The lasting lifespan of engineered wood flooring can be from 20 to 100 years, depending on the thickness of the top solid wood layer, the amount of wear and the amount of times sanded.

Benefits of Engineered wood flooring

Engineered wood is extremely popular due to its extreme resemblance of solid wood flooring but without the potential risks of movement. It still has that expensive wood look and feel without the worry of it getting easily ruined, making it the perfect choice for pet owners.

Engineered wood floors are more resistant to moisture and are more stable than solid wood. It doesn’t expand and contract to the same extend as solid wood, meaning it’s safer to install in rooms which may fluctuate in moisture and temperature levels frequently, such as bathrooms and kitchen environments. Engineered wooden flooring can also be fitted over an underfloor heating system, which is an increasingly popular trend.

Engineered boards are far more stable and durable than solid wood planks. Being made of several layers of bonded plywood means they are incredibly tough and will stand up to more wear and tear than their solid wood counterparts. They can also be re-sanded and finished, depending on the thickness of the solid wear layer, giving you the opportunity to bring your floor back to life by removing surface staining, marks and scratches. Having the option to refinish your floor  gives you a chance to change the look and feel or your flooring, refreshing your home without having to replace your floors.

The variety and options of the wood species, grades and finishes available allow you to achieve the look you want as well as choosing the best finish for your lifestyle. It is also an option to adapt your choices to your budget. We can find a colour that suits your home and is best for you, the range available is vast.

Does engineered wood flooring scratch easily?

The simple answer is no, under normal circumstances the flooring won’t be affected by day to day activity and won’t scratch easily. However, it’s always best to take steps to help prevent scratching from furniture and avoid any unnecessary damage . For furniture such as chairs, which frequently move around on the floor, we recommend  using felt pads on the legs to prevent direct contact between the furniture and floor, avoiding scratches. This stands for both engineered and solid wood; one type of flooring isn’t going to get scratched less or more.

Engineered wood flooring vs laminate

A lot of people believe that laminate and engineered wooden flooring are one and the same, however the two flooring types are very different and each has a distinct appearance.

Engineered wood is a closer match to solid wood flooring, it resembles the look by incorporating a thin layer of solid wood on top of the built up boards. The cost of engineered wooden flooring is moderate to high compared to other flooring, including laminate, but it’s expensive look and value does also raises the sale value of your house. The best point of engineered wood is the veneer of real solid wood, with its unique patterns and form cannot be matched with laminates artificial appearance.

For a cheaper option, laminate flooring can occasionally look extremely good; however, upon closer examination, the difference in quality becomes much more obviously apparent. Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product, fused together with a lamination process to simulate wood, with a textured photographic layer under a clear protective layer. The price scale of laminate flooring is low to moderate, making it a more affordable option, but this will obviously have a marked reduction in the added resale value for your home.

Laminate flooring is inherently strong, due to its protective layer, and holds up well against scratches. Unlike engineered wood flooring, however, laminate cannot be re-finished in any way, so if a mark does appear in your flooring; it’s there for the long run. Both laminate and engineered flooring are water resistant, but not fully waterproof.

How to choose engineered wood flooring

The number of people choosing engineered wood flooring for their home is dramatically increasing; due in no small part to the wide range of timbers available, ensuring it suits your home. From choosing the wood, width, colour and finish, it is all down to you and your personal preferences. Oak flooring is the most popular, it can work equally well in traditional settings as well as modern, with the finish and tone adapting the floors style and look to suit your home.

At our workshop based in Alresford, near Winchester, we provide a showroom with a huge range of different styles and tones of wood available to help you decide what flooring you prefer. There is always an expert to help and advise you every step of the way.

For more information about our flooring services and floor restoration options you can visit our workshop, our website or call us on 01962 733016

Engineered or Solid Wood Flooring – Which is Best?

This is one of our most frequently asked questions and there is a great deal of misunderstanding and assumption about both options.

Firstly here are the two different products simply explained.

Engineered wood flooring – There are different construction methods but generally speaking good quality engineered wood flooring is constructed using a base of glued multi-layer ply board that is then topped with solid wood therefore making it look like a solid wood floor but giving it extreme stability. Many people say that they can tell the difference between solid and engineered wood but they are normally referring to Laminate.

Solid wood flooring – is exactly that solid wood.

Just to confirm neither of these floors are Laminate. Laminate is a lacquered photograph of wood copied onto hardboard or very thin ply.

Decisions, decisions…..

When you start planning a new wood floor, it is very important to measure the moisture levels in your sub floor. Moisture levels should be very low and in order to be confident about the levels, it’s important to take a substantial number of readings across your entire floor.  If your sub floor is borderline when it comes to moisture levels, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’d be safer to opt for engineered wood flooring than solid wood. There are other ways around this but cost can become be an issue. A suitable DPM (damp proof membrane) will normally be sufficient to safely lay an engineered wood floor.

When installing a wood floor in your home, the decision for engineered or solid can depend on which room you’re looking to re-floor.  Because of the significant fluctuations in moisture levels and temperatures in the likes of kitchens and bathrooms, there’s no doubt that engineered wood flooring will be less problematic in these areas.  Thanks to the way that engineered boards are constructed, while they will expand and contract slightly when exposed to rises and falls in temperature and moisture levels, in comparison with solid wood the risk of resulting damage is minimal.  When solid wood is exposed to significant environmental changes it expands and contracts with a more noticeable movement, which, over a long period can cause damage to your floor.  This won’t happen with a good quality, well-fitted engineered wood floor. It is also worth noting the potential for wear of wooden floors especially when they are fitted in a kitchen because if the maintenance is not kept on top of the floors can become shabby looking this is due to water from washing up, drips from dishwashers and fat splatters from ovens and hobs

Heavy footfall or high traffic areas

Heavy or high footfall refers to environments where there is likely to be a higher impact on the floor thanks to the people crossing it.  This would apply more to places such as schools, pubs, restaurants, village halls, gymnasiums etc.  Wherever there is high or heavy footfall, it’s comforting to be able to re-sand and re-finish your floor relatively frequently.  Although an engineered wood floor with a relatively thick solid wood top layer can be sanded comfortably three times during its lifetime, a solid wood floor will take up to five or six sanding’s before risking significant damage. (This would be a non-tongue and grooved floor as T&G floors can only be sanded to the tongue at maximum)  So, if you are flooring a room where there is likely to be high or heavy footfall, your sub floor is nice and dry and there are no significant temperature or moisture fluctuations as well as no under floor heating, then solid wood flooring is probably a more practical solution.

Budget

Wood flooring is a great solution, no matter what your budget. With little difference between solid and engineered wood flooring prices, your budget shouldn’t be a huge driving factor in your decision-making process because irrespective of the amount you have to spend, you should be able to find a solution that ticks all your boxes in either category. In recent years the price of solid oak floors has generally come down depending on what is chosen.  In effect an engineered board will cost at least as much as a solid if not more.

Solid or engineered wood flooring at a glance:

Sub floor moisture level is borderline

Solid wood — Not recommended

Engineered wood- OK with suitable membrane or underlay

Bathrooms and Kitchens

Solid wood -Bathrooms and kitchens – Not recommended

Engineered wood – Highly suitable

High or heavy footfall

Solid wood-Ideal

Engineered wood-Suitable

Finally, if I was looking for a new floor, personally I would go for an engineered floor nine times out of ten.