BY JOHN KOLBASKA, OWNER
Engineered wood flooring is normally comprised of a veneer of hardwood on several layers of plywood. This design grants freedom for installation in situations where you normally couldn’t lay hardwood floors. Obstacles such as concrete slabs, radiant heat, and below grade sites that would pose a problem for solid hardwood flooring are the exact situations engineered wood flooring was created for. Available in all of the latest colors, species, and plank widths that are currently trending; engineered wood flooring is a great option for getting the floors you’re in love with on a site that is not optimal for them.
Radiant heat is a great option for in home climate control. It provides even heat without the dramatic temperature differences or uneven warming of the upper and lower portions of a room. Unfortunately radiant heat dries out the flooring and sub-flooring around it making solid hardwood a relatively poor choice. When solid hardwood flooring becomes too dry it will start to shrink causing gapping and various other problems. However engineered wood flooring has layers of plywood designed to deal with the expansion and contraction due to varied amounts of heat and moisture without damaging the board or hardwood veneer itself. This makes engineered wood flooring an excellent option when considering floors over radiant heat.
Concrete slabs are very common in apartments, basements and on the first floor of homes across the country. While radiant heat removes moisture from the site, concrete is constantly releasing moisture into the area; especially below grade. A solid hardwood floor absorbing moisture will start to cup, crown, buckle, and warp as the moisture content rises. These issues are usually difficult and expensive to remedy if they can be remedied at all. It is possible to build a plywood sub floor and anchor it into the concrete, but this is not always an option and adds to the cost and complication of the job. Engineered wood flooring can be glued or floated over concrete slabs, making for an easier and less costly installation. The plywood under the veneer allows engineered wood flooring to expand if needed without causing it to fail. The more layers of plywood, the better it can handle these fluctuations.
Whether you’re dealing with a concrete slab or radiant heat, the hardwood floors you were hoping for are not out of reach. Engineered wood flooring is available in almost every species and stain you can think of. Manufacturers even produce handscraped and varied width planks to replicate the vintage or rustic look of reclaimed wood. No matter what design you had in mind, it’s possible to overcome these obstacles and achieve the home of your dreams with engineered wood flooring.
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