Engineered Options

Made from several layers of wood bonded together, engineered flooring comes in strips and planks; it resembles solid wood once installed. Although it's essentially a plywood, there are definite benefits to engineered wood. First, most engineered flooring comes prefinished, so the floor is ready to walk on as soon as it's installed. Second, the multiply composition of engineered flooring makes it more dimensionally stable than solid-wood flooring. You can install it just about anywhere — even in basements and bathrooms. What's more, this type of flooring is easier to install than solid wood. And because most engineered flooring isn't as thick (3/8 to 1/2 inch) as solid wood, you're less likely to encounter level-changing problems. The variety of engineered flooring is staggering. There are different thicknesses and widths, different wood species and different finish treatments to consider. And the edges where strips or planks join can be eased or square. As you might expect, prices vary greatly — from a low of $2.50 to well over $6 per square foot for the material. Installation costs also vary, depending on the type of floor you choose and whether or not you do the work yourself. Some engineered flooring is glued or nailed to a subfloor, while other material is simply glued to itself along each tongue-and-groove joint and allowed to float on a foam pad over the subfloor. Floating wood floors are the easiest to install over concrete.

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