In this day of environmental awareness and ecologically responsible choices, engineered wood is a prime choice for homeowners who are installing wood floors. But builders and consumers still need to remember that engineered products require the same moisture content management as any other wood product, or their good intentions may come undone. The prevalence of engineered wood combined with the global focus on environmental sustainability is causing business and academia to explore its benefits with fascinating new results.
Wood products have been found to have benefits for human health. A recent study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) and FPInnovations establishes a link between wood and wellness. Researchers found that human sympathetic nervous systems (SNS produces our feelings of stress) were less active in rooms containing wood. Put simply, the presence of wood in a constructed indoor environment reduced SNS activation. Test subjects were more relaxed when surrounded by wood in a closed room.
While this may seem intuitive (imagine yourself in a log chalet and see if you relax), architects have noticed and are being intentional about using wood as a construction and design element. Wood use on floors, walls, counters and other design features have become a unique and innovative part of modern design. And engineered wood is increasingly considered for commercial developments: malls, schools, city centers and corporate headquarters. Engineered wood flooring provides durable and cost-efficient options for anyone fond of installing wood floors. The news is: Installing wood floors has grown from residential to also commercial applications.
Engineered wood flooring is generally cost-efficient. It retains the durability of its historic predecessors while offering easier application and is generally considered to be less vulnerable to warping, shifting or splitting because of the layering techniques used during manufacturing.
The best engineered wood floors are built having 3-12 multiple ply layers that are cross layered, glued and pressed together. The inner core layers are generally built up with either a hardwood and/or soft plywood type of material, which incorporates the tongue and groove system. The top thicker hardwood veneer wear layer is then glued and pressed onto the top surface of the core. Engineered hardwood flooring is available in almost any wood species.
Engineered wood flooring also saves in environmental cost. Purchasing engineered wood flooring helps conserve expensive prized wood. For every 1 sq. foot of 3/4 inch thick solid wood flooring manufactured, you can manufacturer approximately 4 times that amount into engineered wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring is the best flooring to provide people with to conserve our forests.
With engineered floors, installers can assure equal quality by properly applying compatible engineered products onto existing subfloors. This is another reason why so many consumers choose engineered products when installing wood floors.
However, proper wood installation contains several universal truths, engineered flooring included. All wood holds moisture content. As the relative humidity (RH) rises, wood absorbs moisture from the air; as RH falls, wood releases moisture into the air. Because of this continuous moisture interaction, wood flooring must reach its equilibrium moisture content (EMC): a balance between the wood’s moisture content and that of the RH of the air surrounding it. Wood must be allowed to reach this moisture balance with its environment to meet quality performance standards.
The universal truth is even more apt in such environmentally-conscious times. Engineered wood manufacturers, consumers and builders are considering a wider horizon of Earth-friendly materials, such as exotic woods (cork or bamboo for example) and wood finishes. And while the increasing options offer greater selection to consumers, it also increases the need for knowledge about wood’s moisture content.
Some engineered products combine several woods, each of which has its distinct moisture content characteristics. If users pay insufficient attention to those wood characteristics, a number of problems can follow after installing wood floors and negate the health, financial and ecological savings. Expanded environmental consciousness requires expanded commitment to wood flooring moisture content measurement and management.
Success with Engineered Woods
As always, a good wood moisture meter is crucial to the success of any wood product manufacture or installation. Builders and consumers can easily use hand-held moisture meters to accurately and cost-effectively assess the moisture content of their wood. Wagner Meters carries a complete line of wood moisture meter products designed for diverse moisture content measurement parameters. Wagner’s proprietary pinless technology offers prompt and accurate assessment of the wood’s moisture content without damage to the surface and without leaving any holes.
The Wagner Meters product line carries a moisture meter suited to almost any use. The Wagner Meters MMC220 “Extended Range” digital wood moisture meter assesses moisture content between 5-30% up to a three-quarter-inch depth. Wagner Meters also features wood moisture meter products for home inspectors, consumers and hobbyists. If the wood has moisture content, there is a Wagner Meters product to match.
Given the current desire for natural balance, the simple wood moisture meter is a crucial tool for future consideration when installing any type of wood or engineered wood floors.