Longstrip flooring sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? Think you’ll be willing to fork over a few extra bucks for this fancy longstrip wood flooring?
That’s what I thought, until I looked into the matter a little closer…
What I had imagined was not reality. As you might know, when you order up wood flooring, you often are surprised to open up the box and find what seems like millions of short strips of flooring, some as short as four or five inches. There is a good side and a bad side to these short boards…
That bad thing about these short floorboards (other than the potential for a heart attack when you open the box) is that you increase the number of seams you have in your flooring. The good thing is that these short strips mean less wasted flooring material.
OK, What Is Longstrip Flooring?
So, longstrip flooring sounds like an unbeatable deal. As it turns out, longstrip does not mean 14 foot long floorboards. It means lots of little floorboards bound together into a single unit, and this single unit is the long strip.
Longstrip tends to be about 9/16 thick x 7-1/2 wide and eight feet long. So, in a sense, longstrip still does come in long strips. Eight feet is pretty good; you don’t find those lengths with most solid hardwood.
You’ll find that the finish layer–the visible layer–contains three rows of strips side by side. A single longstrip can have as many as 35 smaller pieces.
Because of longstrip flooring’s construction method, it is available only as engineered wood. I guess that’s pretty obvious; but solid hardwood is simply solid hardwood, no base or backer pieces at all. With longstrip, it’s the backer board that holds the unit together.
Question: I’m looking to install wood flooring in my home and if possible, I’d like to do it myself. A friend suggested engineered oak flooring, but it sounds complicated. What exactly does “engineered” mean? – Emma K., Washington
Answer: Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you need a degree in flooring to work with it. “Engineered” simply refers to the process in which the flooring is made, which involves several pieces of wood and plywood being laminated together to produce a board. The top layer is then veneered and finished to match a particular wood, such as oak. In the end, the look and feel are very similar to that of hardwood.
Indeed, engineered oak flooring possesses the same character and richness of solid wood flooring. Once installed, it’s difficult to tell the two flooring systems apart. However, there are differences between them, which you should consider when making your decision. These concern finish, moisture, resale value, and installation.
Knowing that you’d like to install the flooring yourself, let’s begin with the last in the above list: installation. The good news is, is that engineered flooring is much less difficult to install on one’s own versus traditional hardwood flooring. From measurements to sanding to finishing, engineered floorboards take care of it all, arriving in prefinished form — ready to be installed.
Engineered wood flooring is the best of both worlds–it can be either a floating floor (not attached to the subfloor) or a nailed-down floor.
Finish: As said, you won’t need to do any finishing of the boards. Once installed, they’re ready to be trodden on. By contrast, hardwood floor planks need to be measured, sanded, and once installed, finished. For the do-it-yourselfer, a more reasonable project is to install the prefinished boards of say, engineered oak flooring.
Moisture/Heat: Because wood expands and contracts with temperature changes, it’s always possible that a wood floor could warp or swell out of shape. Oak flooring for instance, will swell if it takes on any moisture. However, engineered flooring is such that it can take heat, cold, and even a small amount of moisture. This makes it a viable option for rooms where hardwood was thought impossible, such as ground-floor rooms.
Resale Value: As said, engineered floors look nearly identical to hardwood flooring. The difference is in the composition, which should only be a factor if you plan on reselling your home. For some buyers, a floor that isn’t solid wood may be a factor. However, this is quite possibly the only instance where an engineered floor would come up wanting.
If you’re thinking of installing engineered oak flooring yourself, keep in mind that they’re available in a variety of finishes, including oiled, lacquered, and varnished. As for the “feel” of the wood, this is based on the way in which is was processed. The main three types from least expensive to most, as well as least visually striking to most are:
Depending on your budget, you’ll have to choose which is most important to you: cost vs. appearance. For such an investment, you should be certain of every aspect of your new flooring. What’s more, as the installer, you’ll also want to decide how you want to install it.
Options for installation include nail down, staple down, glue down, and floating. With a floating system, the flooring isn’t actually connected to the subfloor, which is one reason why engineered floors can be installed in most any room, as well as above radiant systems.
There’s a lot to consider, we know. We hope we didn’t overwhelm you. You can do it. Good luck on your project, and let us know how it turned out.
Often confused with interlocking laminate flooring, engineered wood flooring is a design product that is quite different. While laminate flooring is made of various materials, including fiberboard, engineered wood floors are made entirely from wood. You can get them in a variety of finishes to match your style and preference, including pine, oak, and maple.
Yet Another Twist: Engineered Pine Flooring
Pine engineered flooring is topped with a veneer of real pine. All engineered wood floors are made from stacked layers of wood (2-, 3- or 5-ply), topped off with a particular wood finish. The reason why it’s often mistaken for laminate flooring systems is because both products bond or laminate layers of material together to achieve a certain thickness and durability.
Both systems are also much easier to clean than traditional hardwood floors. For instance, pine engineered flooring comes straight from the factory prefinished. Thus the messiness, vapors, and time needed to finish a solid wood floor, are already taken care of when the boards arrive. All that remains is the installation, which can easily be done by a confident do-it-yourselfer.
Rustic and Chic: It’s Pine
Bursting with character, a pinewood engineered floor can make any home feel warmer. Evocative of a cozy cabin or an artist’s studio, pine can be as rustic as you want or as chic. It’s a versatile wood prized by architects, interior designers, and homeowners alike.
Pine engineered flooring offers this same effect; only it takes less time to install and also comes with fewer restrictions compared to hardwood flooring. These include:
Engineered flooring boards can be applied over radiant systems.
Engineered floor doesn’t expand or contract like solid wood flooring does, thanks to its plywood foundation. As a result, it can be installed in most all areas of the home, including cellars or greenhouses.
Engineered flooring is ready to walk on immediately after installation.
The flooring is thick, cost-effective, and visually comparable to solid wood floors.
Engineered floors can be installed as floating systems.
Engineered Pine Vs. Laminate Flooring Systems
While the technology behind tongue-and-groove laminate flooring has made them remarkable alternatives to wood, ceramic and stone floors, engineered flooring remains a preferred choice for anyone who wants the “feel” of real wood, such as Southern or Heart Pine.
Indeed pine laminate flooring made from an engineered system will still possess the feel of pinewood. Though laminate flooring is able to instill a textured grainy feel to its top layer, it’s not quite the same as the real thing. For some consumers, this touch of realism is the deciding factor.
I’m “floored” as to why a person would want unfinished engineered wood flooring. It’s difficult to find, and it’s not exactly cheap.
After all, engineered wood flooring is all about expediency and convenience, right? And engineered wood flooring comes in a myriad of finishes, so it’s not exactly like design options are limited.
But hey, let’s examine the issue a little. There appear to be a limited few reasons why you might want unfinished engineered wood flooring:
You want the structural properties of engineered wood flooring. Because of its plywood core, engineered flooring does perform well against humidity and other forms of moisture, though never well against actual standing water.
…Yet you want a type of finish not found in the approximately 13,000 different types of pre-finished engineered flooring already out there. For example, you might be trying to match some existing flooring.
Owens Plankfloor is about the only kind of unfinished engineered flooring I have found of any repute. Species include red oak, white oak, hickory, hard maple, walnut, American cherry, and all the usual suspects.
This is not cheap flooring, by any means. The lowest prices, your garden-variety white oak, runs about $5.00 per square foot; Brazilian cherry runs close to $7.00 per square foot.