Which Should I Use – Solid Oak Or Engineered Oak Flooring?
We are so often asked which is the most suitable oak flooring for your home and which looks the best.
When people hear about an engineered oak flooring their first reaction can often be, ‘ its just not the real thing!’ I even get clients believing that engineered oak is the same product that the large super stores sell, which is not so as that is a laminate flooring. A high quality engineered oak flooring such as we supply, has the same qualities as a solid oak floor and in many ways is even better. This sounds like a sweeping statement from a company such as ours, who have been involved with solid oak flooring for the last thirty years and longer, but non the less true.
Lets just try and cover a few of the reasons why:
A SOLID OAK timber board it a totally natural product. We all know that wood moves with different climatic conditions, such as moisture / humidity, damp or heat. Timber is a semi porous material that is affected by these different conditions. If oak flooring takes up moisture it will swell. The floor board will always swell on the width of the board and very little on its length. Because of this it is always very important, when laying a solid oak floor, to allow and expansion gap around the outside perimeter of the floor between the wall and the flooring. If a gap is NOT formed when laying your floor, and the floor boards do swell, the flooring has no where to go and will then most often buckle up in the centre section of the floor. The floor will then become springy and not lay flat onto the under surface on which its was originally laid.
Lets just say your room was 5.0 metres wide and you decided to use 170 mm wide flooring to cover that width. That would mean that you would have to lay 30 rows of boarding. If each board decided to swell by 2 mm in its individual width, it could result in up to a total of 60 mm of swelling. In every case it would be impossible to allow a gap of 30 mm each side of your room to allow for this. Normally the largest expansion gap you would be able to achieve would be around 20 mm, which you would then cover with a trim or skirting. If your flooring were to be laid in a property that had recently been plastered and was still drying out, a 2 mm of expansion on your board would be very possible. If your sub floor was still drying out the situation would be even worse with the flooring trapping the moisture under it and causing serious damage to the newly laid floor. In ALL cases the property should be dry and free from humidity after renovation work and be equivalent to the atmosphere that you would expect in normal, warm living conditions.
An ENGINEERED OAK timber board is a little bit different but is just as attractive in appearance, given that you buy the right type of material. It will wear just as long as a solid oak floor and is a much more forgiving and structurally stable floor.
The reason for the above is that a layer of solid oak is glued onto multi laminate plywood. The European Oak is the same quality as the oak used in the solid oak boards we supply, thus giving the same beauty with its natural grain and figuring.
The engineered flooring that we provide has a multi laminate plywood made from 10 layers of a birch faced plywood 15 mm thick. Each layer is glued in opposite directions, so producing a plywood structure that is very stable and resists movement. We would like to make you aware that many plywood’s, that are used in the manufacture of engineered flooring provided by so many companies, is not as thick and has fewer layers. Less layers of ply will make it a less stable product. With our engineered flooring a 6 mm layer of solid oak is then bonded/ glued onto the 10-layer plywood. The glues used today are very efficient and when the correct adhesives are used the boarding is often stronger the wood itself. The solid oak we use is a single peace of European oak between 6 and 7mm thick, forming a 190 mm wide board. Many companies will again cut back, gluing a number of narrower widths together, giving the undesirable appearance of a multiple strip floor. It is very important that the layer of solid oak is between 6 and7 mm thick, as this is the layer that takes all the wear and tear of everyday life. The end result of our engineered flooring is a 22 mm thick board (15 mm multi laminate ply + 7 mm of Solid European Oak), 190 mm wide, in long lengths of 1900 mm and tongued and grooved all around the board.
This type of floor has several benefits:-
1.A very stable product that has much less movement then a solid oak floor.
2. The top layer of oak, on top of the plywood, is all you can see, giving the beauty that you would expect from a solid European oak floor.
3. A much more stable product for under floor heating systems, which have become very popular.
4. A product that will last and wear just as long as a solid oak floor. If a solid European oak floor was constantly sanded down over the years. It could only be sanded down about 6 mm until you are on the tongue between the boards. Our engineered oak board has the same 6 to 7 mm thickness of wear.
5. The 22 mm thick board is far stronger than the solid oak board, not only because of its thickness, but also because of the multi laminate plywood. Plywood is about the strongest timber material you can purchase for this requirement.
6. Engineered oak flooring is much more environmentally friendly. The plywood is made up of fast growing softwoods, which are plentiful, thus using up far less of our valued solid oak that has taken hundreds of years to grow.
7. A much faster floor to lay as you are using longer and wider boards, making it more cost effective.
8. Many of our clients will say that the flooring looks far better with a longer, wider board and that it does not move unlike solid oak flooring.
We are also aware of our environment. An engineered board will use up far less of our valuable Oak trees. The underside of the board being a softwood ply. These softwood timbers grow far faster and are much more easily replanted and replaced.