Engineered wood flooring is a great option for homeowners, especially those of us living in climates like New England. Solid wood floors are very susceptible to changes in moisture - in climates where we have very dry winters and very humid summers, wood expands and contracts throughout the year. When changes are too dramatic you'll notice excessive gapping during the winter, and at worst floors will cup or buckle in the summer, often causing irreparable damage. Certain construction situations and flooring choices increase the instability of wood floors, making the likelihood of these kinds of problems much higher.
Engineered floors solve these problems - by crafting a more stable board (made of alternating layers of plywood or a specially treated solid core) and then adhering a thinner layer of your wood of choice on top, the floors are much less susceptible to moisture changes and we can drastically reduce the possibility of future damage.
There is a huge range to choose from with engineered floors - the most cost-effective options are thinner (usually 1/2" compared to the standard 3/4" of solid floors), only come prefinished, and cannot be refinished in the future. The highest quality engineered floors offer all the same options as solid wood floors - 3/4" thickness, the choice of site-finished or prefinished, and the ability to refinish as many times as a solid floor.
Why go engineered? Here are the main situations that strongly benefit from (or require) an engineered floor:
crawl space (no basement)
wide width floors (above 5")
more unstable wood species (e.g. maple & hickory)
Some homeowners who don't have any of these situations prefer to install enginereed floors - all solid wood floors will move around to a certain extent, so you may notice some degree of gapping in the winter, and possibly year-round as the floors age. Engineered floors help keep the boards in place, so your floor will stay tight throughout the seasons.
Higgins stocks a few popular engineered options here in Rochester, but most of our engineered floors are custom ordered. Engineered floors can sometimes take longer to arrive, so let us know what you're looking for and we'll do our best to meet your schedule.
To learn more about engineered flooring visit our Resources page.