Unlike solid wood, engineered wood floors have a top or “wear” layer made of solid wood, which covers a multilayer plywood core. The thickness of the top layer and the core will vary depending on the design and the manufacturer.
In total thickness, engineered wood planks vary from as low-profile as
one-quarter inch (6.35 mm) to as thick as three-quarters inch (19 mm, or the traditional thickness of solid-wood flooring). The thickness of the wear layer typically reflects the caliber of the product. The industry norm is 2 to 6
millimeters, with a thicker wear layer generally indicating a more premium product.
Engineered wood flooring is available in a wide range of wood species, including oak, maple, hickory, birch, cherry and walnut, as well as exotic woods like African mahogany and tigerwood. It comes in a variety of widths ranging from slim to wide planks and is offered in specialty looks such as multitone, shown in this photo, or hand-scraped, shown in the previous photo.
All wood products — both solid wood and engineered wood — are prone to damage from flooding or standing water and should not be subjected to large amounts of water. However engineered wood is more stable than solid wood due to having multiple layers in its core, making it less likely to expand, contract or shift when exposed to moisture, humidity and temperature shifts. Its stability reduces the potential for warping that comes with all solid wood and particularly with wide planks of solid wood. The stability of engineered wood makes it a good choice in places where solid wood should not be installed, such as over concrete floors or radiant heating systems.
Since this material is available in more thicknesses than solid wood, it can be a good option if you need a thin wood (for example, to match the height of an adjoining floor).
Engineered wood is also a great way to get the look of wide-plank wood floors, a staple of farmhouse style. In fact, engineered wood or reclaimed wood may be your only options if you want planks wider than 5 inches.
Engineered wood can be less expensive than solid wood, though premium collections with thick top layers, artistic designs and enhanced durability can have price tags on par with solid wood.