Indistinguishable From Real Wood, But Less Costly and More Versatile
One of the only downsides to beautiful, luxurious, easy-to-clean hardwood floors is that they cost significantly more than flooring materials such as carpet and linoleum. Fortunately, there is a way to get the look and feel of solid wood floors in your home without paying top dollar. Engineered wood flooring has many of the qualities of true wood at a fraction of the cost.
What is Engineered Wood?
Compared to traditional hardwood, which is constructed from a single, solid piece of wood, engineered flooring is composed of a surface layer (known as a veneer) of hardwood and a multi-layer core that might contain several types of wood, including plywood, fiberboard, and hardwood. You can buy engineered flooring with a veneer made out of any wood species that you like. And because the veneer is the only part of the flooring that will be visible once it's installed, to the casual observer, the engineered wood will be indistinguishable from solid wood.
Engineered Floors Versus Solid Wood Floors
In addition to looking almost identical to hardwood but costing less, engineered wood actually performs better. The bane of all woods is moisture problems, which can cause even the most elegant hardwood to swell and warp, and extreme temperature changes can also negatively affect wood. The multi-ply construction of engineered hardwood, however, allows it to more easily expand and contract than a solid piece of wood. This makes the material more suitable for tropical regions as well as areas of the home (kitchens, basements, and bathrooms) that receive light moisture.
Another advantage of engineered hardwood flooring is that it can be installed as a nail-down floor, a glue-down floor, or even as a floating floor. Wood flooring, on the other hand, must be nailed to a wood subfloor; it can't, for example, be installed directly on a concrete basement floor.
And as a green building product, engineered wood proves yet again to be better than real wood. Many of the hardwood trees used to make solid wood flooring are slow-growing, so it takes a long time to regenerate a hardwood grove that's been harvested for building materials. Engineered wood, though, has only a hardwood veneer; most of the flooring is contained in the core, which is made from faster-growing and more renewable tree species.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring Costs
The actual cost of engineered flooring depends on the quality of the materials (i.e. 3-ply, 5-ply, 7-ply), local material and labor costs, the installation method, and other factors.
- Lower-end engineered flooring costs $3 to $6 per square foot, while a medium grade product costs $6 to $10 per square foot and high-end engineered wood costs $10 to $15 per square foot.
- For installation, plan on an additional $2 to $4 per square foot and a bit more for a complicated project.
- The total cost to install engineered hardwood in a 225 (15 foot x 15 foot) square foot room, will be approximately $1,250 to $4,500.
- You might pay extra for moving, furniture, appliances, baseboard, etc. during the installation, as well as for the removal and disposal of old flooring.