The market for real wood flooring is divided into two main categories: traditional solid wood flooring and the increasingly popular alternative, engineered wood flooring. While the durability of solid wood flooring is renowned—evident in stately and historical homes where it has stood the test of time—the lifespan of engineered wood flooring remains a subject of debate. In this guide, we will delve into how long you can expect engineered wood flooring to last, shedding light on various considerations that affect its durability.
What Is Engineered Wood Flooring?
Engineered wood flooring, sometimes referred to as semi-solid wood flooring, compressed wood flooring, or real wood top layer wood flooring, consists of a combination of real hardwood (known as the ‘wear layer’) and between 3 and 12 layers of ply, MDF, and softwood. These backing and core layers are topped with genuine hardwood such as Oak, Walnut, or even exotic types like Merbau, Iroko, and Teak. The result is a beautiful floorboard that emulates the appearance of traditional solid wood, but at a more accessible price and without its drawbacks.
Consideration One: The Finish of Engineered Wood Flooring
Before reaching the customer, engineered wood flooring undergoes a sealing process. This seal, or coating, serves as the first protective layer and significantly influences how long the flooring will last. Some coatings are more resilient than others, with two primary options:
- Lacquer: A durable, low-maintenance option, although more prone to scratching.
- Oil: Slightly less durable but more convenient to repair if the floor shows wear or scratches.
Choosing lacquered over an oiled option and employing measures like area rugs or removing shoes can prolong the floor’s lifespan.
Consideration Two: The Thickness of the Wear Layer
Durability is assessed by how many times the floor can be sanded and recoated—a process that involves removing a 1mm layer of wood to erase scratches or dents and reseal the floor to its original appearance. Therefore, with a 2mm engineered wood flooring, you can expect to carry out this process once, and with 6mm, up to five times.
Doing The Math: Calculating the Lifespan of Engineered Wood Flooring
At Wood and Beyond, we have observed customers rejuvenating their engineered wood flooring every 10 to 15 years. Therefore, the most common types, 3mm and 4mm engineered wood flooring, will likely last 20 to 30 years and 30 to 45 years, respectively.
Engineered Wood Flooring Vs. Its Alternatives
Comparatively, laminate flooring has a lifespan of 8 years for low-quality examples and average installation, or 8-15 years with high-quality materials and proper installation. LVT flooring lasts 10 years for low-quality examples and average installation, and 15-25 years with high-quality examples and proper installation.
Thus, engineered wood flooring with a thickness of 3mm or 4mm will certainly outlive its two closest alternatives, making it a durable and appealing choice for many homeowners.
What Is Engineered Wood Flooring?
Engineered wood flooring, also known as semi-solid wood flooring, compressed wood flooring, or real wood top layer wood flooring, is comprised of real hardwood (the ‘wear layer’) and between 3 and 12 layers of ply, MDF, and softwood. These layers create an aesthetically pleasing floorboard that emulates traditional solid wood without its higher cost.
What Types of Coatings are Used in Engineered Wood Flooring, and How Do They Affect Durability?
Engineered wood flooring usually employs two types of coatings: lacquer and oil. Lacquer offers a more durable and low-maintenance option but can be prone to scratching. In contrast, oil is slightly less durable but easier to repair if wear or scratches appear. These coatings play a vital role in determining the lifespan of the flooring.
How Does the Thickness of the Wear Layer Influence the Longevity of Engineered Wood Flooring?
The wear layer’s thickness greatly impacts the durability of engineered wood flooring. Thickness can range from 2mm to 6mm, with 3mm and 4mm being most popular. The thickness determines how many times the floor can be sanded and recoated to remove scratches or dents, ranging from once for 2mm thickness to five times for 6mm.
How Long Do Common Types of Engineered Wood Flooring Last?
Common types like 3mm and 4mm engineered wood flooring are expected to last 20 to 30 years and 30 to 45 years, respectively. This lifespan is based on the observation of customers rejuvenating their flooring every 10 to 15 years.
How Does Engineered Wood Flooring Compare to Laminate and LVT Flooring in Terms of Lifespan?
Engineered wood flooring outperforms its alternatives, with 3mm engineered wood flooring lasting 20 to 30 years, and 4mm engineered wood flooring lasting 30 to 45 years. In comparison, laminate flooring has a lifespan of 8 to 15 years, depending on quality and installation, while LVT flooring lasts between 10 to 25 years. The longer lifespan and appealing aesthetics of engineered wood flooring make it a favored option for many homeowners.