All you need to know about Engineered Timber Flooring

Engineered timber flooring (E.T.F.) has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years because it has a number of significant advantages over conventional solid timber flooring. E.T.F.  is made up of a number of layers of timber, like thick plywood, and its main advantage is that it is far more stable than solid timber flooring. Its laminated construction makes it very strong and resistant to movement, expansion, contraction and twisting or cupping. This stable, strong construction allows E.T.F. to be installed directly over heated concrete floor slabs, which is not possible with solid timber flooring.

Most E.T.F is pre-finished with multiple coats of lacquer and it is glued straight onto the concrete floor slab or timber substrate.  This makes it very quick and efficient to install and finish. It is therefore a more economical alternative to a conventional polished timber floor.  There is also an enormous number of colors and finishes available in engineered flooring, so interior design options are now endless.

Another advantage of E.T.F. is that it can easily be installed on steps and staircases and most suppliers offer a range of stair nosing and accessories to help finish stair areas.  I have also found that the amount of offcuts and wastage from the installation of an E.T.F. is considerably less than a conventional timber floor.

The one main disadvantage of an E.T.F. is that the top “ware layer” of timber is relatively thin (i.e. 3 to 5mm thick) which only allows the floor to be sanded and re-polished a couple of times during its lifespan, where as a solid timber floor can be sanded and re-polished numerous times without detrimentally affecting the flooring.


Some “pro-tips” for selecting the right E.T.F.

  • Choose the right floor thickness for your job. If you are installing the floor over a heated concrete floor it should be a minimum of 20mm thick and have a multi-layer construction for optimum stability. Also, check with the supplier that the specific flooring is guaranteed to be installed over a heated slab?

  • Choose the right color and finish for your job. Dark colored floors in rooms with large windows show dust and footprints a lot more than lighter colors.  Also, a matte or satin finish is much easier to keep clean and to live with compared to a gloss finish.

  • Do your homework regarding the country of origin and the manufacturers warranty for the specific flooring you have chosen. Check if the flooring is produced from “plantation timber” rather than “old growth timber” and does it have F.S.C. or P.E.F.C. certification?


Pro-tips for the correct installation of E.T.F.

  1. The concrete slab must be at least 6 months old, must be clean and level (maximum of 3mm of deviation over 3.0M) and have a consistent hard, smooth finish (i.e. no flaking or crumbling).

  2. The concrete slab must have a low moisture content and must have a waterproof membrane applied before starting to lay the flooring. Alternatively, a special waterproof glue can be used as long as it covers the entire slab surface.

  3. It is recommended that the floor heating system is running at a moderate temperature for two or three days before the E.T.F. is installed.

  4. Store the packs of flooring in a dry, secure location and do not open the packs until the floor is ready to be installed.

  5. Only use the specific glue recommended by the floor manufacturer and use a contractor that specializes in E.T.F. installation.

  6. Thoroughly check the finished floor making sure that no glue residue is left on the floor surface.

  7. Make sure your builder completely covers the floor area with a proper floor covering system (e.g. “Thor Protector” system) and only uses “low stick tape” around the edges, before any other building works continue.


Care and maintenance of E.T.F.

  • Regularly clean the floor using a relatively dry mop and the specific cleaning products recommended by the flooring manufacturer. Most E.T.F. companies have their own range of cleaning products.

  • Do not allow water to flood the floor.

  • Install soft pads under all furniture legs to protect the floor from dints or scratches.

  • Every 6 to 8 months use a “timber floor enhancer / enricher” product as recommended by the flooring manufacturer, to maintain the polished surface.

  • Minor scuffs and scratches can be treated with a “floor repair oil” to minimize their visibility.


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