Most people understand what solid wood flooring is, or if they don’t it is an easy concept to explain. Lumber is cut to a specific width and length and a “tongue and groove” is milled into the sides and ends of the boards for easy installation. However, engineered wood flooring is still a confusing term to many homeowners and perhaps some retail flooring sales people; even though in our experience it is one of the fastest growing categories of flooring in our markets.
Many times the assumption is made that engineered flooring is just like laminate flooring, that it is not “real” wood, and is generally a lower quality material than “solid” wood flooring. The fact is that engineered wood flooring can vary so much in quality, type of material, type of construction, durability, and environmental friendliness, that it really is important to know the basics about how these floors are made so that you can understand how to sell them.
Hardwood Floors Magazine has asked experienced professionals in the wood flooring industry to explain the many aspects of engineered flooring and how they affect overall quality and value. They have compiled those responses into an excellent article: Engineered 101: Understand the Fundamentals of Engineered Wood. This is excellent material to read for anyone in the flooring industry. A few of the points in the article that stand out to us are:
Roy Reichow points out that just because you decide to go with an engineered wood floor, it does not mean you do not have to worry about moisture. It is true that well made engineered floors can resist the gapping and cupping that solid floors can exhibit in slightly dry or moist conditions. However, if engineered wood floors are installed in an environment outside the manufacturers recommended ranges for relative humidity and temperature it can cause the boards to be stressed. Too much stress on engineered wood can cause face checking or delamination – problems that can only be fixed by replacing boards.
Brian Greenwell, writes that the traditional method of acclimating solid wood flooring is different from the recommended procedure for most engineered floors. This is true for the engineered floors we make available as well. We recommend that engineered flooring be kept in the box until it is ready to be installed. The key is to make sure the home or job site has already been brought to its normal expected relative humidity. For most of our products, that is between 35-55%. Manufacturers can vary in their recommendations, but it is very important to stay within the range they specify. Wood flooring loves consistency, and any environment that gets outside the manufacturers recommended range will usually void the warranty.
Education is key
The entire article is well worth your time to read. So is the commitment to education on all aspects of wood flooring. If you want to reduce call backs and claims, and give your customers an excellent experience it is critical to have the training and knowledge to become an expert on the products you sell. We are committed to being a trusted resource for our customers. This week we are hosting three days of NWFA training in Kansas City to educate salespeople and wood flooring professionals on the fundamentals of wood flooring, and preparing them to know what to do if and when problems occur.