10 Major Disadvantages of Installing Engineered Wood Flooring
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According to trend reports, natural materials are taking center stage in home designs this year. Wooden flooring has always been a sought-after choice, and its popularity isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. Further reports reveal that engineered wood flooring is also growing in popularity, thanks to its price point in comparison to solid wood options. However, there are some disadvantages of engineered wood flooring that you should know about before you commit.
Are you looking to install wood flooring in your home, but aren’t sure if you want solid or engineered planks?
Installing new flooring is an investment, and the last thing you need is to pick the wrong material and have regrets down the line.
Therefore, before you do anything else, read this guide to find out the 10 main disadvantages of engineered wood flooring so you can make an informed choice on your new floors.
1. Engineered Hardwood Can Be Pricey
One of the potential disadvantages of engineered hardwood is its cost. If you are comparing solid hardwood vs engineered hardwood flooring prices, engineered hardwood options are typically cheaper.
However, if you want your wood flooring to last, you’ll need to select higher-grade engineered wood products. Those in the lower price ranges, although cheap, can work out more expensive down the line if you have to replace them.
What’s more, engineered hardwood can be significantly more expensive than options like tile, laminate, and vinyl flooring.
2. A Low-Quality Core
Another thing to be aware of when shopping for engineered wood flooring is how its core differs from that of solid hardwood.
Engineered wood is made from processed layers of wood glued together. on top of these layers is a solid piece of high-quality wood called a veneer. This means that even though the planks look like solid oak, they are actually made up of layers of inferior wood.
Depending on the manufacturer, sometimes these internal layers even consist of things like oriented strand board (OBS).
This can make engineered wood flooring less durable, especially to weight and impact from heavy objects. What’s more, the wood veneer can make engineered wood flooring tricky to refinish (more on this below).
Lastly, engineered wood flooring with low-quality core layers can also develop issues from temperature fluctuations. Here’s an image of high quality engineered hardwood core below. Look for more layers and a thicker plank when shopping engineered.
3. There’s a Danger of Fading
Another of the top things to know about engineered wood flooring is that it fades if exposed to sunlight. If you have a sunlit room, then be prepared for fading if you’re getting engineered wood flooring installed.
Unfortunately, most rooms are exposed to a certain amount of sunlight. What’s more, most rooms are also home to things like furniture and rugs. This can result in uneven fading, which makes the faded areas stand out to the eye and appear more obvious.
Some homeowners try to use rugs to prevent wood floors from fading, however, this can make things worse. Instead of getting softer delineation between faded areas, things like rugs can create a harsh line that is highly noticeable.
If you choose to have engineered wood flooring installed, the best way to retard fading is to try and keep your blinds and drapes closed when possible.
4. You Need to Let the Wood Acclimate
One of the disadvantages of engineered wood flooring that many people aren’t aware of is that, like solid wood flooring, it needs to acclimate.
When installing a wood floor you will need to let it sit in your home for a number of days. If you are doing a DIY installation, this can be highly inconvenient if you don’t have space to store the planks.
Take note that you should always aim to store the planks in close proximity to where you are going to install them. Acclimatizing them in a damp basement is not going to do you any favors.
If there is too much moisture present, the planks will swell too much. When you install swelled-up hardwood planks, they will dry out and shrink. This can create gaps and cracks in the floor.
If you have the space to store the planks for acclimatization, this might not be much of a drawback. However, if space is tight, have a large stack of flooring planks acclimatizing in your living space can be very inconvenient.
5. Wooden Floors Require Specific Care
If you want to install engineered wood flooring, know that wooden floors, in general, need specific care.
Engineered wood flooring is less vulnerable to moisture and chemicals than solid wood flooring. However, you still need to be careful when cleaning and caring for it.
For example, it’s not a good idea to expose your engineered wood flooring to standing water. When it comes to spills and splashes, these need to wiped up quickly to prevent water damage from happening. Harsh cleaners are also a no-no, as they can dull or erode the finish on your planks.
Furthermore, it’s also not advisable to steam clean engineered wood flooring. The heat and steam can work it’s way into the planks, causing water damage over time. Using a steam mop on engineered wood flooring will also likely void any warranty you might have on it.
If you are planning to install engineered flooring in your home and want some additional care instruction, you should also read our guide on how to clean engineered hardwood.
6. Engineered Hardwood Is Susceptible to Water Damage and Moisture
As we just mentioned, engineered hardwood is vulnerable to moisture and water damage. Not only does this mean you need to dry up mopped areas quickly, but it also limits where you can safely install it.
For instance, kitchens and engineered hardwood typically aren’t a good mix. If you do a lot of dishes by hand and tend to splash water on the flooring around the sink area, this can also lead to issues if you don’t dry it up immediately. Young children may like to spill food or drink for fun on wooden floors as well.
What’s more, you should also think carefully about the climate you are living in and the humidity levels in your home. For instance, many homeowners in Florida steer clear of solid wood and engineered wood floors thanks to the humid weather conditions.
Additionally, if you have a room that’s typically damper than the rest of your home—such as a basement—installing engineered wood in these areas might not be a wise choice long term.
7. There’s a Limit to How Many Times You Can Refinish Engineered Hardwood
One of the advantages of wood floors is that unlike tiling and vinyl—they can be refinished. After refinishing, traditional wood flooring can look as good as new, and you can do this a number of times during the lifetime of a quality solid hardwood floor.
This also gives you the chance to switch up the color and aesthetic of your flooring. For instance, if you have an outdated dark stain on your wood flooring, with refinishing you might be able to convert it to a blonde hardwood look, an option that’s highly popular with designers at the moment.
The solid hardwood core image above shows that sanding it down for a refinish will expose the same material. Unfortunately, engineered hardwood flooring can’t be refinished numerous times. In fact, cheaper variations can’t handle one refinish job at all.
Due to the engineered floor’s separate solid wood veneer top, you can’t take too much off this layer before running into issues. Low-quality engineered wood flooring typically has top veneers that are only 1mm in thickness.
These types of engineered wood flooring products can’t be refinished. If you try to refinish them, you may end up breaking through the veneer into the laminate wood below.
Higher grades of engineered wood flooring often come with veneer layers that are around 3mm thick. These can be refinished. However, there’s a limited amount of times you can do this before the top layer will wear thin.
In general, you can expect to be able to refinish top-quality engineered wood flooring with thicker veneers a maximum of 2-3 times.
8. Susceptibility to Dents and Scratches
If you are considering having engineered wood flooring installed, you should also keep in mind that it can be less durable than other non-wood options like luxury vinyl plank.
For one, all wooden flooring is susceptible to scratches. With solid wood flooring, if you experience a lot of scratching and wear, you can always choose to freshen up and refinish your floor. As mentioned above, this isn’t always an option with engineered wood floors.
Cheaply made engineered wood flooring is usually comprised of thin and few layers underneath their veneers which make them more vulnerable to dents. If you drop a heavy object on a cheap engineered wood floor, it can create a dent in the wood.
Although this can also happen with solid hardwood floors, they are typically denser which means the dents won’t be as deep or pronounced.
9. Some Engineered Hardwood Products Can off-Gas Chemicals
One of the further disadvantages of low-quality engineered flooring is that it can off-gas potentially hazardous chemicals and VOCs.
Engineered wood flooring cores are made of layers of wood and composites. The core layers are bound together by adhesives. Cheap engineered floors made in China can release formaldehyde.
A lot of engineered wood flooring is safe. However, not all engineered wood products are created equal. According to a study from Consumer Reports, many engineered wood flooring products release hazardous levels of formaldehyde emissions.
Unfortunately, although formaldehyde does off-gas over time, the emissions will be highest in the months after installing the product. This means that while you are enjoying your new flooring, it may be secretly emitting formaldehyde gas or other VOCs.
If you would like to avoid the risk of off-gassing completely, then you may want to opt for installing wood flooring using solid hardwood planks.
If instead, you would prefer to have engineered wood floors installed, then you should make sure you opt for a high-quality engineered wood floor from a reputable distributor.
The reason for this is that well-known manufacturers and distributors are far less likely to sell engineered flooring that hasn’t passed the nationally required safety tests.
Ask and make sure any engineered floor you buy is a low- or no-VOC. All of our engineered products are low-VOC products and are safe to install in all homes.
10. Low-Quality Engineered Wood Flooring Can Be Hollow Sounding Underfoot
The final entry in our list of disadvantages of engineered hardwood flooring is that it can be hollow-sounding underfoot. There are a few reasons for this.
For one, engineered wood flooring is typically thinner than solid flooring planks. Cheap engineered wood floors are typically lighter and less dense because they are made from wood veneers and composites.
Finally, engineered hardwood is typically installed as a floating floor. This means it isn’t glued or nailed down in the way that most solid wood floors are. Because of this, floating engineered hardwood installations can sometimes sound clunky.
Low-grade engineered wood flooring products are more likely to produce a hollow sound when walked on. Denser, thicker, and more high-quality engineered floors won’t suffer from sounds underfoot.
Are You Considering Engineered Wood Flooring for Your Home?
As you can see there are a number of potential disadvantages to engineered wood flooring. Besides being more expensive than options like tile, they also require specific care, can be sensitive to moisture, and can develop fading.
Besides this, engineered wood flooring can also develop dents and scratches and sound hollow underfoot. What’s more, many types of engineered hardwood don’t allow for refinishing.
That said, engineered wood flooring has a number of advantages as well. It’s cheaper than solid wood, more sustainable, and easier to install.
If you want to install engineered hardwood, make sure you are shopping for the right product. There are plenty of ways to enjoy engineered hardwood benefits. Start by looking to invest in a high-quality product. We make it our business to provide our customers with great quality flooring at the best prices. You can browse our engineered wood flooring here to see what is available.
On the other hand, would you prefer to opt for solid hardwood flooring? If so, we have an extensive selection in stock. You can browse our solid hardwood selections here.