Engineered hardwood flooring is our most popular wood flooring product. And despite the fact, that about 65% of the wood flooring sold residentially in the U.S. is engineered versus 35% solid, confusion over engineered hardwood flooring abounds: what it is, how it’s used and how to care for it. The fact is that it is virtually impossible for most to distinguish between a properly installed engineered hardwood floor and a solid wood installation. So let’s dispel the myths:

Myth 1: “It’s not real wood”. Incorrect. “Engineered” refers to the way the floor is constructed rather than what it’s constructed of. In traditional solid hardwood flooring, it’s exactly what the name says: a solid board of wood. However, with engineered hardwood, you’re dealing with layers of wood or, in some cases other materials, compressed to create a strong, versatile product. The boards are then topped with a durable layer of 100% hardwood in the species, stain and look of your choice – the same as solid. The reason engineered has become the preferred hardwood for many custom home builders, designers, and architects is that is can be installed below, on or above grade and most can be installed three different ways (floating system, glue-down, or nail-down). These flexibilities make engineered hardwood flooring ideal for renovation projects of all types, reducing demolition, labor, and material costs. Best of all, the finish warrantees are essentially the same as many of their solid counterparts.

Myth 2: “You can’t sand it”. Incorrect. While usually sanding may only be necessary every 15-30 years (more on that later), you can sand many kinds of engineered hardwood flooring. True, there are some economy brands that have a veneer that’s thin, which doesn’t allow for sanding and refinishing, but most brands of standard or premium engineered hardwood flooring can be sanded one or more times. It’s surprising to many people to find that 2-3 sandings is all that many solid hardwood applications can take. It usually isn’t a function of how thick the wood is, but rather 1) where the nail heads are relative to the surface of the wood, be it solid or engineered or 2) the available thickness for sanding.

Myth 3: “You have to be able to sand wood flooring regularly”. Again, that’s just not the case. Hardwood flooring shouldn’t need to be sanded as part of routine maintenance. In most cases, unless there’s extreme wear, most quality hardwood flooring installations may not need a full sanding until an entire decade or more after installation, as long as you properly maintain it by sweeping it regularly to reduce grit and following the manufacturer’s care and basic maintenance guidelines.

If you do start to notice scratches or nicks on your flooring, they may just be minor damage to the urethane finish. In that case, look into a process called screen and recoat. This is essentially putting a new layer of polyurethane onto the floor. Many people are unaware of this process and hardwood refinishing contractors sometimes aren’t as enthusiastic about offering this services since it is significantly less expensive than a complete sand and refinish job. If you do have more excessive wear from things like deep scrapes and scratches, that’s when it’s time to look into sanding.

For many homeowners, engineered hardwood is an affordable, durable and high-quality alternative to solid hardwood. Is it right for you? We’d be happy to help you find out. Contact Tish Flooring, an Indianapolis hardwood flooring company, and we’ll help you find the perfect floor.