Wood has become an extremely common flooring option and can either be used as a structural component in construction or as an aesthetic addition to your decor. Of particular importance, are engineered timber flooring options, which have rapidly grown ubiquitous and become a key feature in construction and design of contemporary commercial and residential premises. They have replaced solid hardwood floors, which primarily had a structural function and helped in supporting the house. Hardwood floors, however, have been found to have various limitations that have made them less than ideal flooring options over the years. These limitations include their tendency to gap (developing excess spaces between planks), crown (curving upwards due to increased humidity) and cup (forming a concave depression in the middle of the plank), especially with larger plank sizes.
Engineered wood, which is made by putting together layers of timber to form a plank, have various advantages that give them an edge over the traditional hardwood flooring options. These include dimensional stability (attributable to running each layer perpendicular to the one above it), consistent grade, and installation systems that allow for ease during installing and maintenance of the floorboards. It also allows for floating installation, as well as radiant heating, unlike solid hardwood floors which need to be nailed in and are damaged by radiant heating.
But how exactly are these engineered boards produced?
First and foremost, it is worth noting that one must source for great raw materials if they want to create a great end product. So, while many manufacturers use layers of ply, masqueraded as timber, great quality engineered boards can only be obtained by making use of authentic timber. The layers of timber are arranged in stacks and acclimated for at least two weeks. This allows for the moisture in the layers to balance out and equalise thus improving the stability of the resultant boards.
The layers are then glued together using specialised adhesives that guarantee lifelong adhesion between the layers. These layers of ply are then hot pressed together to produce a single panel of variable thickness before proceeding to be sawed. The sawing allows for panels of different dimensions and sizes of planks to be produced.
Some manufacturers of engineered boards sand the boards after sawing, guaranteeing a smooth finish and thus reducing time spent by contractors on site, who will only need to give the boards a light sanding after laying them. It is after this step that the panels are sawed again to custom or standard lengths and widths. Using various methods, installation systems can then be applied to the boards to make them easier to install.
Commonly used installation systems include:
- Tongue and Groove where adjacent planks have tongues and grooves along their lengths and widths that fit snugly into each other.
- “Click” systems which allow for easy replacement of worn boards as they are not glued together using adhesive.
- Floor connection systems where the planks have grooves on all four edges and a fitting piece of metal, plastic or rubber is used to connect the planks.
- Floating installation where boards are not glued or nailed to the subfloor thus protecting the subfloor from damage that would have otherwise been caused.
Before the planks can be packaged, they are taken through a process where they are rigorously checked for any flaws. They are then bundled into groups that consist of up to 85% full-length components and are then ready for shipping.
As you can see, the process behind the production of engineered boards is very intricate and highly specialised. From the sourcing of raw materials all the way through to the shipping, every step is key if you are to produce quality engineered boards