Engineered flooring is a hugely popular type of wood flooring worldwide. It is made from two or more layers of wood in the form of a plank. The top layer, known as ‘Lamella’, is the wood that is visible when the flooring is laid. Engineered wood is strong because each layer is placed at a 90o angle to the layer above it
Engineered flooring looks like solid hardwood floors once they are installed. This flooring type offers more stability, durability and versatility than traditional strip hardwood flooring because is are designed to cater for fluctuations in temperature and humidity, which can cause traditional hardwoods to buckle or crack.
The Origins of Wood Floors
The first evidence of wooden flooring dates back to 1683 when it was used in the Palace of Versailles. But it was not until the late 19th century that strip flooring would be devised with the help the invention of the side matcher in 1885. Before then, carpenters would painstakingly plane the tongue-and-groove individually by hand.
As cities began to expand in the late 19th and early 20th century, more homes were built to cater for the growing population and wooden flooring became increasingly popular for use in these properties. By the mid 1920s, the electric sander was invented, which meant that wooden floors could be sanded and levelled more efficiently, producing much better quality flooring. Until this time, carpenters would scrape the floor manually by dragging scraper blades across the floor.
Construction Booms As The Economy Recovers
Following the Great Depression and the end of World War II, there was a post-war building boom which again increased the popularity of wooden flooring in homes. In the 1940s, installing wooden flooring was still very laborious and required a professional at all times, so there clearly was a market for a new wood flooring type that was easier to work with.
The post-war demand for homes led to the development of the first engineered flooring types, parquet and Herringbone. Although attractive, these would not last long as a top solution for homeowners as they weren’t durable enough due to the thinness of the wood.
In the late fifties and early sixties, plywood subflooring and concrete-slab foundations instigated the demise of hardwood floorings. This is because wooden floors could not be installed on concrete due to the fact that the underlying moisture would begin to rot it away. This change in building technique coupled with the maintenance costs of wooden floors paved the way for cheaper alternatives such as carpet and engineered flooring to be mass-produced and made publically available.
By the mid-1980s, hardwood floor manufacturers had introduced pre-finished, engineered hardwood, nail-down and glue-down hardwood flooring. Experts at the time predicted that these flooring types were set to remain popular and they are still snapped up by homeowners across the globe today.
James Johnson has been working in the timber manufacturing industry for a number of years and specialises in the treatment of materials used for wood flooring. In his spare time he writes blogs on behalf of his brother’s company Green Apple, which supplies a comprehensive range of engineered wood floor coverings to the United Kingdom from its warehouse in Essex.