Engineered wood floors can be best described as a type of flooring which is constructed using different layers of wood together, generally three – plywood, an upper layer of hardwood veneer and the core. The core of this flooring is constructed from one of the most durable and robust wood species like Oak and Walnut. The three layers of plywood, hardwood veneer and strong core are attached together, and the resulting flooring is called Engineered Wood Flooring. The upper layer of real wood gives the floor a beautiful and elegant look which is one of the reasons for the popularity of engineered wood. It is strong and durable as the core is made of high-quality wood species which also lends a long and extended service life.
Engineered wood flooring is a beautiful, durable flooring solution that can be installed in a few different ways. For e.g., when installing over a concrete base the glue-down system is used and this typically requires extra help from the contractor. Apart from this there are two other methods which are more user friendly and DIY oriented – the traditional nail-down and floating-floor method. As the name suggests, nailing-down installation is the same as in the case of traditional solid hardwood floors – you have to nail the flooring. The floating-floor method on the other hand is the most DIY friendly as it does not require any nailing or gluing of the floorboards, you simply just align it perfectly.
Difference between Nail-Down and Floating-Floor Installation
Engineered wood flooring designed especially for the nail-down installation has tongue-and-groove edges system which is similar to traditional hardwood flooring. Most nailing down boards can also be used for glue-down installation of the floor. A floating-floor installation follows a similar process to that of the nail-down floor but needs no nailing or gluing of the flooring boards. In this installation method, the engineered wood boards are attached and secured together with special interlocking joints, creating a single & continuous flooring layer that floats over the subfloor.
One of the foremost conditions required to allow the installation of engineered oak flooring is the condition of the site or space. At times you might have seen or heard of the wood flooring creaks, splits, lifts, or the formation of large gaps. This happens when the site or subfloor starts reacting to the wood and causes these inconsistencies. Hence it is very important to make sure that you check whether the flooring space is suitable for the installation of wood flooring or not. These tests are mostly performed by the contractor or company who is doing the floor installation, but it is advisable to know about the basics to avoid any unforeseen circumstances.
If any of the tests fails, the reason must be examined, and a proper solution needs to be found to negate it. This ensures the safe and proper installation of your beautiful flooring design and choice. Some of the important checks and tests are:
The first and foremost check that needs to be done is the humidity check. Air humidity should be between 45% to 65% and in the UK this level is considered to be normal. The same level should be maintained even after the installation to avoid any splits or cracks.
In case of timber based sub-floors, the moisture content should not be greater than 12%. For concrete based sub-floors, the moisture content should be less than 12% on a regular prong test or less than 3% if measured using a concrete moisture meter.
Another very important and basic check is that the sub-floor should be levelled and consistent. Make sure to check that the surface area is even and level else you would have to redo the entire process. If there are any uneven patches, repair it before starting the installation process.
Acclimatizing the Wood Planks:
Once you have done all the preliminary checks and found that the site is suitable for the installation, you need to acclimatize the wood flooring planks. This is a crucial part of the entire installation process because it helps the moisture level in the wooden planks to balance according to the moisture level of the space. It is imperative to create and maintain this balance so that the wood does not start reacting after the installation and results in any extreme inconsistencies like splits, lifts, or cracks.
To acclimatize the engineered wood flooring boards, lay out the closed boxes flat in the installation room in piles of 3. Make sure to leave at least a 4cm gap between all the piles to ensure proper air circulation around each box. It takes around 5-7 days to acclimate engineered wood flooring to a laying space. Once the wood planks are acclimatized, you can begin the installation process.