Engineered wood flooring have evolved a lot in the recent decade, which has enabled them to be the preferred choice of most customers due to the ability to use wood in places where solid wood floors would have simply buckled and warped.
The first “manufactured” engineered floors were made of a basic blockboard backing or small staves of softwood glued together. Although these were good floors, they did not always withstand the rigours of heavy duty homes. The wear layer was often very thin (between 1 – 2mm) and the boards themselves were usually 10mm – 15mm thick so they could never be used as a structural floor (ie over joists). The width of the first engineered floors was usually up to 90mm, or was made up of 3 strips on the width of the board and therefore a wide plank look could not be achieved.
In the last 5 years the wide plank engineered walnut flooring have become a massive hit.
Board widths have now grown from 90mm to a staggering 450mm as a plank board and the thickness of the boards can be up to 22mm thick, suitable for structural use. As the thickness of the overall planks has increased so have the top layers – commonly available in a 4mm or 6mm top layer of real wood.
With the emergence of the variety of board size, the fitting methods have also improved. Initially, the boards were all tongue and grooved on all 4 sides and had to be glued together as a floating floor (gluing the tongue and groove so the floor is floating over the original floor – an underlay is normally used to dampen down the echo), but as the boards have evolved new fitting methods can now be used. The cross ply boards can be nailed in a similar way to nailing solid wood boards – even 15mm thick boards can be nailed when the backing is cross ply. This has meant that boards can now be nailed directly to the sub floor, or to the joists, without the need for adhesive.
The latest new fixing method is a click style fitting. This has been adapted from the laminate floor fittings and works well for contractors and DIYers who just want a quick installation.
The latest update of the click style is the emergence of the G5 locking system. This click lock system ensures that the ends of the boards are locked tightly in place and give a snug fit which will not work loose. This is achieved by a rubber insert attached to one end of each plank. This rubber acts as a seal and presses against the groove of the next plank. As the next board length is laid in, it presses the rubber insert into the groove so the board cannot come apart. It can easily be unlocked again if the plank laid next to it is removed.
It is only a matter of time before new technologies will move the fitting methods on again, however there is an abundance of choice with engineered boards currently so there is something to suit all tastes.