Monday, November 3, 2008

Engineered Hardwood Floors

Engineered hardwood flooring is made up of two main pieces. The top layer, which is portion that should look like real wood, and the core, which should be made from material that is long lasting, provides cushioning, soundproofing and is strong and durable to make the installation easy. The core material is usually fiber board or plywood, and is layered for strength to prevent cupping and warping. The bond between the core and the top layer must be well done. If not, the areas in which this engineered floor is installed may cause problems. The most damaging enemy of a laminated floor is moisture. If the bond between the core and the top is not perfect, moisture can find its way between the two materials and cause them to separate, making the ends bubble up and look terrible.

Installing engineered wood flooring is another area that must be carefully planned. Below ground installation of this type of flooring is one of the many advantages it provides. This type of flooring is becoming easier and easier to install. Even non-professionals may tackle this job with some of the new “click” together type products. The sub-flooring must be attended too with great detail during the installation of engineered flooring below grade. On a “below grade” installation, be sure to use a vapor barrier on top of concrete, before you install the substrate. The easiest type flooring to install is the “floating” floor that snaps together. Use a substrate that provides cushioning, noise deadening and does not require caustic glues.

The snap together or locking system that does not require nailing of any type, is one of the most popular engineered floors for the DIY installation today. Make sure you stagger the boards so that they are not symmetrical, as this provides for a more natural look. The most difficult part of the snap together installation is cutting ends, corners and angles correctly. Also, follow the manufacturer’s suggestions exactly when it comes to allowing for expansion and shrinkage. If you don’t, you may get large gaps between boards when it’s dry, or the end pieces may jam together and cause a separation between the core and the top material, causing bubbling during moist and warm weather, as stated above.

Using a professional installer is definitely a good idea if you don’t feel you are up to the job yourself. Because these floors are much easier to install, you may find a professional installation crew can do the job much faster, with the right tools, and at a very reasonable price. Most floor installation professionals can completely finish a job in two days or less. Be sure to get several estimates from different contractors, if possible. There is a definite advantage for the installation crew to know there are others bidding on the installation.

An additional benefit to engineered wood floors is its ability to be cleaned and maintained much easier that other flooring material. Very mild detergents and water in limited amounts cleans up most all dirt and spills with no problem. You don’t want to get water in the joints of the panels if possible. A damp sponge and cloth definitely does the job. You don’t have to wax these floors either. They are finished at the factory and will maintain their beauty with minimal care. Be sure to use rug runners in high traffic areas and take off any type of shoes that may cause dents and scratches, just as you would on any floor. Pets and their little toe nails don’t have any effect on this type of floor, other than they seem to have a little harder time negotiating these relatively slippery surfaces.

When done properly, an installation of high quality engineered flooring can bring a lasting, comfortable, serviceable and beautiful addition to any home or business and provide a great return on your investment as well as a highly desirable selling feature.

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