Throw out the water. Keep the baby.

I recently came across this post :  

Beware of Engineered Wood

Beware of Engineered Wood

by Ugly House Gone.  

This post, “Beware of Engineered Wood” narrates a very negative experience of engineered hardwood.  While Ugly House Gone’s disappointing experience of engineered hardwood flooring clearly seems justified; being weary of the entire category of engineered hardwood flooring from this single experience may prove somewhat extreme.  Let’s consider another possibility rather than throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath-water. 

Qualities of engineered hardwood flooring vary tremendously; and, while the flooring in question undoubtedly seems like a bad apple, we should consider Ugly House Gone’s two main concerns, durability and serviceability, separately.  We will only approach the first issue here because, while serviceability is critical to making a floor enjoyable, if it does not hold up properly, maintenance doesn’t seem as significant a concern.  Ugly House Gone’s post complains that after approximately 6-years, the floor had scratched and peeled…

First, let’s consider scratching and add a second concern, that of indentation.  We should start by acknowledge that the issues of scratching and indentation must be addressed with just about any hard surface flooring material (including not only engineered hardwood, but solid hardwood flooring and laminate, like Pergo, Wilsonart, Alloc, Quickstep, etc., and vinyl floor covering) because, in many cases, this is not as much a reflection on the type of floor as it is a reflection of consumer expectations and, by extension, the professionalism of the shop where the floor was purchased, misleading marketing, etc..  No floor is bullet proof and expecting otherwise is the fast-fast track to disappointment.  All floors, including engineered hardwood flooring, are built to resist damage caused by normal, everyday use.   Regardless of how durable or high quality, a hardwood, it should still not be considered impervious to scratching or indentation.  Urethane finishes applied to today’s better quality hardwood floors boast incredible scratch resistance and harder species of wood used in many of today’s hardwood floors tend to resist indentation miraculously well.  Still as mentioned above, even these floors can scratch and indent.  And keep in mind that the finishes applied to engineered hardwood flooring is the same as that applied to solid hardwood flooring.   One beauty of hardwood flooring, both solid and engineered, that sets it apart from other floor covering surfaces is that hardwood floor finishes are easily restored.  Urethane top coats, such as Bruce’s Fresh Finish, may help to minimize the effect of hairline scratching on hardwood floors and can help renew a finish with minimal effort.  Furthermore, for more extreme restoration, ‘screening and recoating’ and ‘sanding and refinishing’ are almost always options for improving a scratched finish, minimizing shallow indentations, or changing the color of a hardwood floor. 

As for peeling, we should again be specific: is the finish peeling or are the layers of wood delaminating?  In either case, it will most likely come down to either environmental conditions, such as a moisture issue, or a manufacturing defect.  All the engineered hardwood flooring of which I am aware carries extensive warranties for both finish and structural integrity, which would cover either a peeling finish or delimitation.  So, if the finish of a floor peels or if layers of an engineered wood floor begin to delaminate and it is not determined to be the result of a localized condition, the manufacture and the company from which the floor was purchased should warrant the performance and thereby stand behind the floor.

… So rather than being weary of engineered hardwood flooring as an entire category, beware of over generalization and anything that is oversold, seems too good to be true, etc… and recognize that anyone who oversells any floor, hardwood or otherwise, may be pointing the way to disappointment.  And, when it comes to hardwood (and indeed any floor) anticipate some scratches and dents… to result of normal use and abuse, gather information from reliable sources and choose a floor that suits the application and your lifestyle from a company you can trust!  Engineered hardwood flooring has represented a tried and true flooring solution, with a track record proven over near a quarter century; so, if you have an issue with one, approach the manufacturer and the company from which it was purchased: there may be options for getting your ugly floor gone so you can  throw out the bath water and keep the baby. 


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