Know Your Wood Flooring

We hope that this blog will be useful in understanding the differences between Solid Wood Flooring, Engineered Wood Flooring and Laminate Flooring. We really just want to make sure that if you are considering installing wooden floors but unsure what to choose, that this will help guide you through to make a more informed decision.

Solid Wood Flooring

As suggested in the name, solid wood flooring is made from a strip of solid wood milled directly from the tree. The thickness will range from 15mm to 20mm, with the benefit of sanding and refinishing the floorboards over several generations of use. The floorboards can be finished with oil or lacquer that varies in durability depending on the traffic you receive on the boards. Solid wood flooring can also be used to form steps and other features where the edge is displayed.

Character Oak Solid Wood Flooring Solid Oak Hardwood Flooring finished with Osmo Polyx (Hardwax) Oil

As timber is a natural product, solid wood floors will expand and contract with changes to the relative humidity of where it’s installed. To accommodate for the floors’ seasonal changes, an expansion gap between the floor and the wall is required. This is usually covered by the skirting board or matching bead.

Solid wood flooring can be nailed or screwed down onto existing floorboards, joists, battens and chipboard/plywood. If you have a solid subfloor such as concrete, you can glue your floorboards down or ‘float’ your floor by using a suitable underlay, like our X-Pro Tack and Envoy-Multi adhesive wood floor underlay that have thermal, sound-proof and damp-proof properties.

Solid wood is arguably the most durable choice when it comes to installing wood flooring, although care must be taken when fitting your floors as the timber will absorb any moisture present in the subfloors. So with the correct preparation and professional advice, you will be able to achieve and enjoy the warmth and charm of installing solid wood flooring in your home or office.

We manufacture our own solid wood flooring in a beautiful range of hardwood species from European Oak, American Oak, Ash, Maple, Black Walnut and Cherry. We know the choice can be overwhelming, so that’s why we offer free samples of our flooring range.

Profile of Solid Hardwood Flooring Profile close up of Solid Wood Flooring

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring has the same aesthetic benefits as solid wood, although it is designed with structural integrity in mind. Our engineered flooring is made of a top layer of solid hardwood 3-5mm thick, bonded with high quality moisture-resistant D4 adhesive (in line with British and European standards) onto a base layer of plywood or medium-high density fibreboard. This construction results in a moisture-resistant hybrid wood flooring that is more tolerant to changes in temperature and relative humidity, displaying very little to no expansion/contraction due to the cross bonding of layers. Note that flooring bonded with MDF is non-structural.

Unlike sold wood, sanding engineered flooring is governed by the thickness of the wear layer. Although our own engineered hardwood flooring has a top layer of 5mm that is comparable to the wear layer of solid wood floor.

Engineered Oak Wood Flooring Engineered Oak Flooring finished with Osmo Polyx (Hardwax) Oil

You can fit engineered wood flooring just the same way you would fit a solid wood floor, but one of the most popular fitting methods on smaller domestic areas (no more than 30m2) is to ‘float’ the floors using an appropriate flooring underlay (see ‘Solid Wood Flooring’ section above regarding the fitting methods).

Again, as the top layer of engineered flooring boards share the same properties as solid wood, you can apply an oil or lacquer finish of your choice.

Not only will you achieve the same look and feel of solid wood flooring with an engineered floor, but you also get the benefit of strength and stability throughout the floorboards. Also, due to its’ structural properties, engineered wood flooring is suitable to lay on top of under-floor heating systems, which is a more common trend consumers are now turning to.

We are one of the very few, if only a handful, who manufacture engineered wood flooring in the UK. Our engineered flooring range launched in February 2012 with such a success, which we feel is due to the methodical process of hand selecting each board whilst using only the best quality of timber materials for construction. We can manufacture any type of engineered floor in the timber of your choice within reason.

We welcome you to order free samples of our engineered oak flooring in wide boards of 185mm in either 15mm or 20mm thick.

Profile close up of Engineered Wood Flooring Profile close up of Engineered Oak Flooring 20mm thick

Laminate Flooring

The cheapest of the lot, and by no means should it be classified as ‘wood’ flooring. Laminate flooring is basically a piece of plastic with a photographic image of a wood grain section, which is then repeated throughout the entire floor and stuck on top of MDF. It’s known to be scratch resistant, but non-repairable once damaged. It can be fitted on to wood or chipboard subfloors or floated.

So the appearance of the wood grain is achieved in laminate but is repeated throughout the floor, making it look very unnatural and very cheap. As we are a timber merchant who manufactures wood flooring, trying to be as unbiased in our view of this choice can be a little difficult, so we do apologise!

Laminate Flooring Laminate Flooring Construction

We hope this blog will help you make that decision in choosing the most suitable flooring in your next project. Feel free to drop us comments or questions you might have on this blog or email, telephone, tweet, facebook, Google Plus, Skype, fax, Royal Mail or come in and see us!

4 thoughts on “Know Your Wood Flooring”

  • Jan

    Can American Oak be engineered and why would it be more expensive than solid American Oak? I'm purchasing a new build and am keen to have wooden floors and want the look to be that of solid but will probably have to go down the route of engineered.

    • JoJo

      Hi Jan,

      Yes, we can most certainly engineer American Oak in a Country grade, which is rustic looking or Prime grade, being a very clean board with straight grains and scattered pin knots. The engineered will look and feel exactly like a solid once laid, but you have the benefit of stability throughout the boards with the engineered with little to no movement during any relative humidity changes in where it's installed and it's also suitable to lay on top of underfloor heating.

      As for the price, it comes down to the timber materials used to construct the engineered boards. We have engineered some American Country Grade Oak floors recently, which look absolutely fabulous. We would be more than happy to send you free samples, please contact us directly for samples and pricing.


  • Peter


    We are implementing engineered wood on under floor heating.

    1. There are various overall depths of board available e.g. 15 or 20 mm. What are the trade offs between the different depths?

    2. Likewise, the actual wood depths vary e.g. 4, 5 or 6 mm. What are the tradeoffs?

    3. What does your comment about MDF being 'non-structural' mean?



    • britishhardwoods

      Hi Peter,

      Our 20mm engineered oak flooring is a structural floor and as such can be laid over joists or battens. It's constructed of 15mm of birch plywood with 5mm of solid oak bonded to the surface. Whereas, our 15mm engineered oak flooring is non-structural, by which we mean that it will need to be laid over a solid subfloor, i.e. concrete, chipboard, existing floorboards. Our 15mm flooring consists of 12mm moisture resistant MDF with 3mm of solid oak. The only real disadvantage of the 15mm is it's non-structural property. However, it does look exactly the same as the 20mm when laid as it's made from the same oak.

      The 15mm engineered floor may need a little extra care perhaps when laying to make sure you don't damage the tongue and groove.

      The 20mm engineered floor is better able to bridge gaps and dips on uneven concrete subfloors. There is also the cost consideration between the 2 depths.

      Under normal conditions we would expect a 3mm oak top layer to last well in excess of 50 years, or longer, given that a complete re-sand would only remove .1 to .2mm off the top layer. You might re-sand every 10 years or more.

      Hope this helps you with your decision. If you would like to receive samples of our engineered oak flooring, feel free to give us a call on 01535 637755.


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