What Is Composite Wood Flooring?

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Composite wood floors are engineered.
Composite wood floors are engineered. (Image: texture of a natural wood image by Sergey Galushko from Fotolia.com)

Composite wood flooring is a flooring option that uses real wood engineered with special properties such as moisture resistance and high durability. Composite wood flooring is much easier to install than traditional hardwood flooring. And it is often difficult to visually distinguish from other types of wood flooring.

Design

Composite wood floors have multiple layers of wood that are stacked on top of each other and glued together with heat and high pressure. The floors have a core layer in the center of the engineered wood panel, and a harder top layer designed to resist pressure and damage caused by high traffic. Installation contractors will either glue or staple the composite wood floors onto the concrete underneath. However, some of the floors have tongue-and-groove edges that allow owners to quickly install and uninstall the flooring.

Manufacturing

Homeowners can choose between hardwood flooring and soft plywood for composite wood flooring. The soft plywood composite flooring uses a tongue-and-groove system. Manufacturers create these composite wood floor panels either by sawing through cut veneer with a rotary blade or by peeling a rotary-cut veneer with a knife blade.

Lamination

Other types of wood floors will warp when they absorb moisture; but composite wood floors are laminated, so they do not absorb as much moisture. However, you might have trouble with rooms that have a moisture content on the concrete of more than 4 percent, which commonly occurs in basements. The flooring will not glue down in areas with high moisture. Composite wood floors also can be used with radiant heating, while other hardwood floors cannot be used with this heating method.

Sizing

You can choose the size of the wood panels used to construct the flooring based on your preferences since the sizing does not affect installation. However, you must install the composite wood floors on flat surfaces such as concrete, tile and vinyl.

Layers

Homeowners with composite wood floors that have thinner top layers will have to replace the flooring when damaged. Those with thicker composite wood floors can refinish the flooring, which can save money in the long run. However, the initial costs of the thinner composite flooring are less, and you can only refinish composite wood flooring once or twice.

Environment

Composite wood flooring is the most environmentally friendly form of wood flooring because manufacturers waste the least amount of materials. However, you should not use formaldehyde-based adhesives and urethane-based finishes, which can pollute the air indoors.

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