Wood Is Not a Fruit so Don’T Peel It
Recently, we have noticed a trend by the customers who visit our showroom… more and more they are looking at and selecting engineered products for their hardwood flooring projects. While this seems a bit surprising being the Rocky Mountain region is still primarily a ‘solid wood’ market, it makes sense as more and more homes are being built with radiant floor heating systems, and consumers are becoming educated on the ‘green’ factor that engineered woods have.
Ah, but you are thinking, “Chad, aren’t engineered woods fake? or not as good as solid wood?” The answer to both of these is… “No”. Engineered woods are real wood. They are simply a multi-ply core with a solid wood wear layer. In some cases, engineered wood can make certain species like Maple and Hickory more stable in our dry climate.
While these species in solid form, tend to be very unstable and shrink and expand with normal climate changes, in engineered form they can be more stable. But, like anything, not all engineered wood is constructed equally. While most brands still use a ‘rotary peeled’ thin veneered wear layer which can dry out and split or crack, several manufacturers are starting to use ‘face swan’ thicker wear layers.
What’s the difference you ask?
Rotary peel is the process in which a log is shaved into thin layers by way of a large (and very sharp) blade, like a roll of paper towels. While this allows for an immense amount of material to be manufactured, it tends to become very dry and brittle. Also, because this layer is so thin, it cannot be sanded at a later time as the floor begins to show signs of wear, limited the overall life expectancy of the floor.
‘Face sawing’ is where the log is actually cut into strips. By doing this, the wood can be milled into thicker slices which are more stable and less prone to cracking and give a more natural look. In addition, because this wear layer is thicker, it can usually be completely re-sanded, in some cases more than once. This greatly increases the life of the floor.
So, the next time you are considering an engineered floor, make sure the product you are selecting has a nice, thick wear layer which has been sawn and not peeled.