While there are lots of different flooring options for your home, nothing is quite as good as hardwood flooring.
This traditional style of flooring can make your home look more classy, and can actually raise the value of your home.
But unfortunately, hardwood flooring is extremely expensive, and for a lot of people, the benefits do not outweigh the costs.
Fortunately, there is a type of flooring that is called engineered hardwood flooring which can help you achieve this finish at a fraction of the cost.
This flooring is known as engineered hardwood flooring and there are lots of different options to choose from when it comes to this flooring.
This can make finding the perfect engineered hardwood flooring for your home difficult, that’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to the best-engineered hardwood flooring to help you!
We’ve done all the difficult work so that you don’t have to, and buying engineered hardwood flooring for your home will be a breeze. So with no further ado, let’s get started.
What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?
Before we go any further, let’s take a quick look at what engineered hardwood flooring is. You may think that you haven’t heard of engineered hardwood flooring before, but the chances are that you have, you’ve just heard it be referred to under a different name.
This is because engineered hardwood is often called manmade wood, hardwood composite, and even mass timber depending on the area that you are from and the wholesaler that you use.
But this doesn’t answer what hardwood flooring is, so let’s do that. Hardwood flooring consists of real planks of wood that have been pieced together in opposite directions to create layers.
This is the same method that is used to construct laminate or vinyl which are other common types of flooring. But this doesn’t mean that hardwood flooring is the same as laminate or vinyl, and there is one primary reason for this and that is the finish.
Both vinyl and laminate consist of layers of wood that have been finished off with a clear coat to protect them from wear and tear. Hardwood flooring differs from this as the topcoat is not a clear protective layer, instead, it has actual hardwood at the top.
Other than this, hardwood flooring is very similar to laminate and vinyl flooring. Even down to the method of fitting which is used to lay it.
Just like laminate and vinyl, engineered hardwood flooring is fitted using the drop and lock method which requires you to interlock the different panels together before fitting it to the ground.
Similarly, just like both vinyl and laminate, it does not require the various planks to be glued down or nailed into the ground, instead, they simply fit flush to your existing floor and will remain like that until you want to take the hardwood flooring up.
You might be confused as to why engineered hardwood flooring exists if it operates pretty much identically to both vinyl and laminate, and that is a fair question.
The main answer to this question is that engineered hardwood flooring allows you to achieve the same finish as actual hardwood flooring but at a much lower price point. Real hardwood flooring can be extremely expensive, and tricky to install.
So the main reason that engineered hardwood flooring exists is that it provides a cheaper and easier to use alternative to real hardwood flooring.
The Best Hardwood Flooring Brands
There are lots of different companies that sell engineered hardwood flooring, and all of these companies offer a wide range of different flooring types to choose from.
Due to this, it is impossible to shortlist some of the best-engineered hardwood flooring simply because the range is so wide, and this type of flooring is quite subjective.
So instead we have shortlisted 6 of the best-engineered hardwood flooring brands to make your search for the perfect flooring for you easier.
OUR TOP PICK
One of the best brands which manufacture engineered hardwood flooring is Shaw. Shaw manufactures a wide range of flooring, but one of their top products is undoubtedly their engineered hardwood flooring.
The company has a huge selection to choose from, but don’t allow this range to damage the quality of their products as every type of flooring they produce is perfect in terms of color, detail, and effort.
Additionally, they offer a range of different textures including smooth, natural, and distressed, and have a range of waterproof hardwood flooring to choose from. This is why they are one of the top brands for this type of flooring.
- Waterproof - some of their lines are waterproof which is perfect if your flooring is likely to get messy due to kids or animals
- Texture Options - they offer different textures unlike a lot of other companies, giving you even more choice when picking flooring for your home
- Color Match Profiles - if you don’t like any of the colors they have on offer they can match their products to a color that you like, allowing you to get the perfect flooring for you
- No notable drawbacks
Another great company for engineered hardwood flooring is Hartco, who was formerly known as Armstrong. This company runs on three main principles: durability, dependability, and quality.
They also do all of this while being one of the cheaper options on the market making them a great choice if you are working to a budget.
The durability of this product comes from the thick top layer which gives an excellent finish to this type of flooring, and this top layer can also be sanded if you do not want your flooring to age through wear, tear, and scratches.
So it is clear that this is a great choice for engineered hardwood flooring.
- Lifetime Warranty - if you buy directly from this company then they will offer a lifetime warranty to protect your flooring should any issues arise
- Easy to Install - makes this type of flooring cheaper as you can install it yourself instead of paying the labor for someone to do this for you
- Cheap - one of the cheapest options on the market without limiting the quality, so a great choice if you are working to a budget
- No notable drawbacks
As its name suggests, one of the key products that this company offers is hardwood flooring, but they also offer engineered hardwood flooring.
This company is great as they offer a range of different aesthetic options when it comes to engineered hardwood, rather than simply offering different color patterns.
All of the options sold by Johnson Hardwood come with real character which is something that a lot of people look for in engineered hardwood flooring.
Real hardwood flooring is packed with character, and this is something that is difficult to replicate in engineered hardwood, but this company manages to do it successfully.
So there’s no doubt that this is a great choice if you want engineered hardwood flooring.
- Character - flooring options come with lots of character which is something that is lacking in most engineered hardwood flooring
- Excellent Feedback - this company seemingly only has positive reviews which prove that their products are great
- Affordable - their price point is in the middle range for hardwood flooring making them affordable for the quality that you get
- Difficult to Navigate - their site can be confusing to use at first
If you want to support an independent company that offers quality that is better than some of the bigger companies, then Somerset is the right choice for you.
This company was founded in the Appalachian region of Kentucky named Somerset, and all these years later they still operate out of this area.
They were founded on high-quality, solid, and engineered hardwood flooring, and they continue to produce engineered hardwood flooring that boasts all of these key qualities.
Their flooring is available in a range of patterns and colors, which is why they are a great choice if you want to buy engineered hardwood flooring and support an independent company at the same time.
- Full of Character - just like Johnson Hardwood, Somerset engineered hardwood flooring is packed with lots of character to make it a focal point in your home
- Range of Colors - lots of choices to choose between, allowing you to find the color pattern that works perfectly with the decor of your home
- Independent Company - by choosing Somerset you are helping support an independent company and keeping them in business
- Independent Company - this benefit could also be a con as it might mean you have to wait longer to receive your flooring
Another excellent option is Green Building Supply, which is an excellent choice if you want to support a company that cares about the environment.
A number of the materials that Green Building Supply use are eco-friendly and sustainable and also excellent quality.
But it is worth noting that because of this, Green Building Supply does have a higher price point than other companies as their products must pass certain tests to be classed as eco-friendly.
They do not currently have as large a range as some other companies, but this is to be expected when you consider the limitations that they have to work in.
Regardless of this, the products that they offer are great, which is why we had to include them on this list.
- Eco-Friendly - a great choice if you are somebody who cares about the environment and wants to support a company that does the same
- Sustainability - all of the products that this company sell have passed strict tests to prove that they are sustainable for the world that we live in
- High-Quality - despite working within tight limitations, all of the engineered hardwood flooring that this company sells is top quality even though it is very different from products by other companies
- Higher Price Point - due to the tests needed to make this company eco-friendly
Finally, let’s talk about Anderson Tuftex Hardwood. These are industry standard when it comes to engineered hardwood flooring, which is why they are an excellent choice.
This company was one of the first to introduce the cross-lock system for this type of flooring and because of this, they are one of the best for this style.
They have a wide range of engineered hardwood flooring, and some of their ranges even come in a variety of color choices.
So it would have been wrong not to include them in this guide to the best-engineered hardwood flooring.
- Large Range - gives you lots of options to choose from when searching for the perfect flooring for your home
- Color Choices - some of their lines include a variety of color options allowing you to tailor your flooring to match your decor
- Hand Textured - one of few companies that complete plank texturing by hand which makes every plank of flooring unique
- Expensive - due to the work completed by hand on this flooring, they are more expensive than some other options
What Makes Engineered Hardwood Flooring Different?
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the top brands, you might still be wondering ‘what makes engineered hardwood flooring special?’. After all, there are lots of other types of flooring that you may choose to lay in your home.
To help you out, we’ve quickly compared engineered hardwood flooring with some of the other most popular types of flooring that exist to see exactly what makes it different.
Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring
We mentioned earlier that laminate and engineered hardwood flooring are actually very similar, especially in the way that they are installed in your home.
In fact, the only major difference between the two lies in the wood that is used to construct both the core and wear layers.
In laminate, MDF is most commonly used to construct the core layers, whereas, in engineered hardwood flooring, real wood is used to construct each layer.
This difference filters through to the wear or top layer too as laminate uses a photographic layer to give the appearance of real wood, and a clear layer for protection.
Whereas engineered hardwood flooring uses real hardwood for the top layer to give the appearance, texture, and feel of real hardwood flooring.
Carpet vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring
One of the most popular types of flooring in houses is carpet, so how does this differ from engineered hardwood flooring?
As you are probably already aware, carpet is hugely different from engineered hardwood flooring on almost every level.
Carpet is soft, hardwood flooring is hard. Carpet is made out of plush material, hardwood flooring is made out of wood. The list of differences just keeps on going on, but one thing that the two have in common is how popular they are.
Both engineered hardwood flooring and carpet are extremely popular despite their huge differences, and this all comes down to personal preference.
Vinyl vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Vinyl flooring is fairly similar to laminate flooring, so the similarities between this and engineered hardwood flooring are very similar to those between hardwood flooring and laminate.
But the main difference between these three types of flooring is the fact that vinyl flooring is waterproof, whereas the other two types of flooring are prone to lifting should any water get between the planks.
Another similarity between the two is also something that makes them hugely different, and this is the fact that they are prone to damage.
While people think that damage to their engineered flooring adds to the appearance, damage to vinyl flooring can cause people to want to replace it. So even though they are similar, there are some clear differences between the two.
Solid Hardwood vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Finally, let’s take a look at the biggest debate when it comes to engineered hardwood flooring, and that is the debate between this and real hardwood flooring.
Both types appear identical once they are installed, and because of this a lot of people fail to see the need for these two types of flooring.
But as we mentioned earlier, the main difference that generates the need for two types of flooring is the cost. Hardwood flooring is expensive, not just to buy but also to have installed as it requires multiple layers of padding beneath it.
This is why engineered hardwood flooring exists, solely to provide a cheaper alternative to real hardwood flooring.
But it is worth noting that real hardwood flooring can increase the value of your home, unlike engineered hardwood flooring which doesn’t, so it is important to consider this before making a purchase.
Caring for your Engineered Hardwood Flooring
As you may expect, engineered hardwood flooring requires a little more care than other types of flooring such as vinyl and carpet. This is because it is constructed with real wood which is more prone to damage, including scratching and denting.
To prevent any unnecessary damage, you should regularly clean your flooring, including sweeping, mopping, and even waxing depending on the type of flooring that you have. Others will require less maintenance, so you must do some research into the maintenance required for your type of flooring before you start cleaning it.
However, the majority of engineered hardwood flooring will require the same cleaning process, this tends to go something like:
- Sweep the floor regularly, at least a couple of times a week.
- Mop the floor regularly, at least once a week.
- Only use cleaning products designed for wood.
- Vacuum regularly, using different attachments to clear out the cracks in your planks.
- Clean up any spillages immediately after they happen to avoid stains and damage.
- Do not slide any furniture on your flooring, no matter how tempting.
- Use a wax sealant designed for the right type of wood flooring if necessary.
As long as you follow these steps your engineered hardwood flooring should last for years to come. But don’t forget that small amounts of damage to your flooring can be great for adding character to the wood.
Best Engineered Hardwood Floorings Buying Guide
Things to Consider
Now that we have established exactly what engineered hardwood flooring is, let’s move onto the things that you need to consider when you are thinking about purchasing hardwood flooring.
To help you make the best decision for yourself, we’ve put together this handy buyer’s guide which is full of everything there is to know about engineered hardwood flooring.
From features to thickness, we’ve taken a look at absolutely everything that you need to consider, so that you don’t have to do the research. With no further ado, let’s get started.
Core, Length, and Thickness
One of the first things that you should consider when buying engineered hardwood flooring consists of three things, and that is core, length, and thickness.
These obviously cover three different things, but they are very interlinked so it is best to look at them all together rather than dividing them up.
When we talk about core, we are discussing the core layers which together make up the engineered hardwood flooring. It is these layers that play one of the largest differences between engineered hardwood flooring produced by different manufacturers, so you must consider it.
All engineered hardwood flooring will be constructed of different layers of hardwood, but different companies will use different wood to make up these layers.
Some companies will choose to use more layers of thinner wood, while others will choose to use fewer layers of thicker wood. Both are great options, but you must be aware of these differences before you buy anything.
The most important layer in the hardwood flooring is, as you would expect, the top layer. This is, of course, the layer that you will be able to see, and generally, it is accepted that the wood used to make this layer has to be strong and stable.
This is the layer that will undergo the most wear and tear as it is continually walked upon, and so the top layer must be thick, even if the layers beneath it are thin.
It is generally accepted that the top layer must be at least 2mm in thickness, but a lot of companies choose to use a thicker wood that measures between 3-4mm.
Finally, you need to consider the length of the boards that are being used. A lot of engineered hardwood flooring manufacturers will offer a variety of lengths, so you should consider what you want.
Most laminate will measure between 4-6ft, but generally engineered hardwood flooring planks are longer than this.
In fact, you will often find engineered hardwood planks that measure up to 80 inches in length because longer planks will result in fewer join lines and make your flooring look more like real hardwood.
So if you want a professional finish in your home, you should opt for longer engineered hardwood planks.
Another very important thing to consider is the types of wood that are used in the engineered hardwood flooring.
As we mentioned earlier, engineered hardwood planks come in a wide variety of types, giving you lots of options to choose from.
Generally, most engineered hardwood flooring will contain hickory wood or oak.
Additionally, both spruce and pine are popular choices. All of these types of wood are incredibly hardy and will be able to withstand wear, tear, and pressure, which is essential when the wood will become a part of flooring that is going to be continually walked upon.
There are lots of different wood that might be used to construct the interior layers of engineered hardwood flooring, but the most important layer is the top layer.
So when you are considering the type of wood that you want in your flooring planks, you must choose a wood that you like for the top layer.
This is the wood that will be on show, so it is important that both the color and appearance are to your liking, otherwise, you will be left with flooring that you don’t really like in your home.
As well as the wood type, you should also consider availability when thinking about buying engineered hardwood flooring.
This might be something that you overlook, but it is very important as it can limit or expand your options depending on where you want to purchase your engineered hardwood flooring from.
When you are considering buying engineered hardwood flooring, there are 2 main platforms from which you can purchase it: online and in person.
Depending on the platform that you use, you might find differences in availability, even if you are considering purchasing from the same company.
With the majority of things that are sold online and in-store, you tend to get a better range online, however, this is not the case for engineered hardwood flooring.
In fact, when it comes to engineered hardwood flooring you tend to observe more options in-store than online. This is because a lot of vendors tend to have a huge range of options, far too many to list on a single website.
So if you don’t live close to a physical store, then there is a chance that your choices might be limited by availability. This is why it is generally better to visit a store if you can when you are thinking about buying engineered hardwood flooring.
The majority of engineered hardwood flooring is fitted in the same way using the lock and lay method that we spoke of earlier.
So you might assume that installation isn’t a consideration when you are thinking about buying this type of flooring, but this isn’t the case.
Even though the majority of engineered hardwood flooring uses this method, there are some types that use a more permanent fitting solution, such as glue, to fit your new flooring in your home.
But this isn’t the reason that you need to consider installation before making a purchase.
The main reason that it is important to consider installation before you purchase any engineered hardwood flooring is to work out the labor costs. A lot of people choose to fit their own flooring as it is, usually, quite an easy job to do.
However, there are lots of people who still choose to have their flooring fitted by a professional to achieve a perfect job.
If you want to pay someone to install your flooring, it is important to remember that this will cost you more than fitting it yourself as you will have to pay labor costs.
You should also consider whether or not you want to pay for it to be installed before you purchase, as some companies will not offer this service and you may have to pay an independent contractor to install your flooring.
Warranty and Price
Before buying any engineered hardwood flooring you also need to consider the warranty that you are getting and the price that you are paying for it.
For a lot of people, the cost is one of the most influential factors in the purchasing process, especially if you are working on a budget.
As is the case with almost anything that you can buy, some companies will charge significantly more for the same product that you can get cheaper elsewhere. This is why it is important to look around before diving in and buying from a specific company.
If you get a variety of quotes from different companies this not only gives you a wider variety of options, but it also gives you a price to work off of if you are trying to reduce the cost of your flooring from a specific company.
If you want your hardwood flooring immediately, sticking to a budget can be hard as there is often a long wait time for some of the more popular types of flooring. But it is always best to wait rather than pay significantly more just to get your flooring sooner.
As well as the price, you also need to think about the warranty that comes with the flooring that you are purchasing. Warranty is important as it essentially protects your flooring should something bad happen within the warranty period.
There are a lot of factors that impact the warranty terms and limits, so it is important to check the fine print before purchasing to ensure that your flooring has the correct protection.
Finally, before you buy, you must consider the additional features that may or may not come with your flooring.
It might seem strange at first to have additional features when discussing flooring, but when you start to consider what these features could be it suddenly starts to make sense.
When it comes to engineered hardwood flooring, the additional features that you may want to pay extra for tend to include padding, underlay, or a longer warranty if you are uncertain that your flooring will last all the time that it is supposed to.
If the additional features that you are considering consist of either underlay or padding then it might be worth thinking about buying this from a different vendor as this can be an easy way to cut the cost of your flooring.
In a lot of cases, companies will charge a high additional cost for underlay in an upselling method, and you can often get the same underlay cheaper from a different company.
Of course, purchasing underlay separately can be tricky if you are paying the company to install your flooring, but it is worth enquiring if this is an option if the cost of underlay with your flooring company seems excessive.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do engineered hardwood floors last?
Generally, engineered hardwood flooring can last for up to 30 years with the correct maintenance which is significantly longer than other types of ‘wooden’ flooring including vinyl and laminate.
This is due to the composition of the wood and the hardwood finish which is a lot hardier than the clear top layer applied to laminate.
Does engineered hardwood look cheap?
No, engineered hardwood flooring doesn’t look cheap, unlike some types of laminate and vinyl which can often look fake and unrealistic.
Engineered hardwood flooring uses a real hardwood top layer which gives it the appearance of real hardwood flooring, which is why it doesn’t look cheap like other types of flooring can.
Does engineered hardwood need underlayment?
Yes, most engineered hardwood flooring will require underlayment. Underlayment provides padding to the flooring, as well as protection, and a flat surface for the flooring to be laid upon.
Underlayment can be expensive, but if you shop around you can get it a lot cheaper which will make the cost of your engineered flooring significantly less expensive.