|The Anatomy of Chocolate Cake and Hardware Floors, part 2|
Plywood is an engineered wood. It's made up of layers of cross-laminated wood veneer or layers of lumber with a central multi-layered core lumber strip. Engineered means that we added our own mix of science and material design principles to the original wood source to create our own form of “wood” – many people will refer to any manufactured wood product, even fiberboard, as “engineered wood.” Wood veneer over plywood is another type of engineered hardwood. However, wood veneer flooring can refer to fiberboard layered with wood veneer and kraft paper, or it can refer to wood veneer over plywood. Veneer is simply a thin sheet of wood. “Lamina” means a thin sheet or plate. “Laminated construction” implies that layering is a part of the process.
Laminate and engineered flooring are made from layers. Design, construction and manufacturing companies struggle to agree upon distinctions in terms. “Engineered” and “Laminate” define a process, but they are also often used to define material. Unfortunately, the terms are sometimes used to deceive consumers into thinking they're buying a higher-quality product than they actually are. Make sure you identify the materials and layers of your flooring choice. Laminate flooring uses a printing process (or a sheet of wood veneer), wood chips or/or synthetic materials, along with some glue and heat to give you the look of finished hardwood. It's similar to using artificial chocolate to create a surprisingly scrumptious chocolate cake.
Laminate flooring comes about 6-9 millimeters thick. The number of layers vary, but it's usually between four and six layers. The layers generally include a top protective layer, the décor paper or wood veneer layer for the “look” of the hardwood, the baseboard and edging, and a stabilizing layer on the bottom that also works as a moisture barrier. The material used in laminate flooring is not consistent through manufacturers, so make sure you are buying a quality product. Accepted international standards rate A-1 for bedroom use to A-4 for commercial use.
It's a lot easier to eat a piece of chocolate cake than it is to choose a hardwood floor, but by exploring the layers of hardwood flooring types you'll better understand your hardwood floor plans. Then you can focus on the more delicious layers of a chocolate cake.