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How Thick Should Engineered Wood Flooring Be?

02 Nov 2012 |    |    |    Leave a Comment

As any regular reader of this blog will know, there are two kinds of wood flooring.  There’s solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring.  Solid wood flooring, as the name suggests is made from solid planks of wood, made in the species of your choice.  Engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, is a cleverly constructed wood flooring solution that looks just like the real thing but is recognised as being particularly stable and flexible in its use throughout the home.  Like solid wood, engineered wood flooring comes in various thicknesses (from 15 to around 21mm) and irrespective of its thickness is a stable solution.

So how do you decide how thick your engineered flooring should be?  There are three key elements that will affect your choice of thickness:

  1. Whether or not you have under floor heating.
  2. The level of traffic you anticipate in the room you’re going to lay the flooring.
  3. The construction and condition of your sub floor.

Under Floor Heating:

If you already have, or are planning to install under floor heating, there’s no getting away from the fact that a thinner plank will allow the heat to transfer more quickly.  That said, it really depends on the recommendations of the manufacturer.  So, the best advice is, if you are planning to install engineered wood flooring over under floor heating, seek the advice of your supplier and heating installer before making your final flooring decision.

Traffic:

Certain rooms in the home have to put up with significantly more traffic than others.  Typically halls, kitchens and living rooms have quite a bit of wear and tear to contend with, in comparison to the likes of bedrooms and dining rooms.  If you are planning the installation of engineered wood flooring in a room that has a significant amount of traffic, it’s a good idea to choose a thicker board.

Investing in a thicker board will allow you to sand your floor more often, which means that you’ll lengthen its life and be able to keep it looking great for even longer.   The number of times you can sand an engineered floor is determined by the thickness of the lamella or solid wood top layer.  Generally speaking, the likes of a 21/6 thick, engineered wood flooring should be capable of being sanded up to 7 times in its lifetime, which means that choosing this option will give you a long-lasting flooring solution.

That said, if you have under floor heating, 21/6 thick, engineered wood flooring is not normally recommended.  On the other hand, a 15/4 thick plank is a total of 15mm thick and has a 4mm thick lamella or top layer.  It’s the 4mm thick, solid oak lamella or top layer that determines the number of times the floor can be sanded.  Generally speaking, a 15/4 thick, engineered wood floor should be able to be sanded 5 times in its life span.

Your sub floor:

Before choosing which thickness of engineered flooring is best for your project, you’ll need to ascertain how level your sub floor is and identify what it’s made of.  If your sub floor is uneven, then a thicker board will help overcome minor issues better than a thin board.  Also, if you’re planning to lay your boards directly on joists, it’s essential that you choose at least an 18mm board in order to provide the stability you need.

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