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Compare overall thickness and the height from the top of the tongue or nail groove to the top of the face on the floor. On an engineered floor this is generally the thickness of a wear layer. Most solid wood floors are 3/4" overall before sanding (but some are less) with 1/4" above the nail groove. Our engineered floor is manufactured to equivalent measurements but most engineered floors have a thinner wear layer. This comes down to how many times the floor can be sanded. What kind of finish and texture you want on the floor factors into how deep you will re-sand the floor during refinishing. A number of our reclaimed wood floors are sold with an original texture that shows the old saw marks and character in the floor, so most likely you wont want to sand this out. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the wear layer then the longer the floor will last.
In this article we will be discussing several different categories of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring is one board with no glued up laminations; it is basically wood board that has been sized and profiled to a certain dimension. Engineered flooring has a on the top whatever species and texture you want, and this is glued to a plywood backer on the bottom. Engineered is still all wood but is made with multiple layers that are laminated for better stability and dimensional accuracy. Floors that we will not cover here are laminates or any composite products which are often not wood entirely through the plank or may be made with a photo printed surface. We also will not cover vinyl, carpet, stone, or tile.
The variable is installation costs. Our engineered product has labor savings over our solid wood product because it is pre-sanded and milled to tighter tolerances. It is also prefilled in the holes and has next to zero waste. On the other hand you may have a little more in cost of gluing it down in addition to nails, but this is just a step in direction of better quality and peace of mind during the install.
In a reclaimed product the engineered flooring really shines. Since the nature of reclaimed material is rustic with splits, various height, warps and so forth by doing an engineered product we can eliminate those issues. We match the texture and color that you want in the floor but you dont have to put up with the inherent problems that come with installing and living with a reclaimed wood floor. A number of solid wood reclaimed floors have warped and twisted boards, gaps between rows, height difference between rows, holes, and other "nostalgia and romance" that may become unwelcome after living with the floor for a while. Due to our precise sanding during the lamination process for the engineered product and after, pieces are more consistent in height, more uniform in texture, fit together tighter, no waste, holes and cracks already filled, and no sanding necessary after install unless you want to do a light screen or buff.
If your price-point is not even in the same zip code, maybe it is in a different state, start shopping other options. For example if you are in the $1-2/sf range look at the deep discounters or laminate options. The FSC certified 12mm exterior birch plywood that we use to manufacturer the engineered flooring costs us that much alone, not counting all the other labor and materials.
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