Good question – because many folks mistake engineered hardwood flooring for laminate flooring. They are notthe same thing.
What is engineered hardwood, or engineered wood flooring?
Engineered hardwood is made up of layers of hardwood veneer, glued and heat pressed together onto a plywood platform. It can range in thickness from 5/16″ up to 9/16″, having from 3 to 8 layers. In order to create an engineered hardwood, these layers are stacked on top of each other with each layer or grain of the wood running opposite to each other.
The top veneer can range in thickness all the way up to 1/4″, depending on the manufacturer. But remember, the top layer is real hardwood – so when it is on the floor, it is indistinguishable from a solid hardwood. And if the veneer is thick enough, the floor can be refinished if necessary.
Because the layers are perpendicular, they expand in different directions. This makes an engineered hardwood flooring is less susceptible to the effects of moisture and temperature fluctuations, therefore “dimensionally stable.” (As opposed to solid hardwood in which the grains in the board runs in only one direction.) This stability allows it to be glued directly to concrete, above or below grade.
Engineered wood flooring can be used in full bathrooms because they are less susceptible to moisture fluctuations.
Always, however, take precautions against steam and humidity near showers. Added ventilation can help rid the room of humidity build-up while mats placed around tubs can catch water spills.
Most engineered flooring can be stapled or nailed down, or glued directly to cement. They can also be floated. Moisture barriers over concrete is recommended, but not usually required.