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I am looking into engineered flooring. I am having difficulty getting information about what I truly need. I am looking at several name brand products, Mannington, Robbins, Bruce. Do I truly need 5-7 ply products or is 3 ply fine? I am located in Texas so we are not real moist. The three-ply products, Robbins in particular has a much thicker top layer than the 5-7 ply. Will 3-ply buckle a lot easier?

Any suggestions on brands that are a good buy? I am a "best buy" type person, not a most expensive type.


Dear Tres

The three ply might be fine until it gets wet. It's not very moisture stable because of the thick sliced wood it is made of. And it's not all hardwood in most cases, softwood cores are the norm now. I looked in my area for the old 5 ply laminated wood, and could find none readily. It looks like all that material has been discontinued. Pity the poor person who had the older 5 ply floors and now cannot find a single box for a simple repair. The prefinished wood floor industry has the attention span of a butterfly. It's become much like most floor covering, very fashion conscious, but not very practical in the long run.

That all said, we will see how this new batch of 3 ply and in some cases 2 ply material holds up. It promises to allow you to sand and finish the floor at a later date. But we'll see if this stuff will last the 20-40 years until the first sanding is due. That is more time than most of these prefinished wood floor makers have been in business. So they may not have the perspective to see that far in the future. I've seen loads of poorly thought out products coming from this industry, and this may yet be another one.

If it were up to me, I would choose an elegant pattern of square edged parquet (not the cheap t&g stuff you now see in stores). I would glue it down with Dri Tac 6200 adhesive, and sand it silky smooth on site. A dark walnut stain, and 3 coats of a satin poly would make this wood glow, and put those paneled prefinished floors to shame.

And there is a lot more to installing wood floor on concrete than just choosing the wood. I have an article about Wood Floors on Concrete, which you can find in the search box at the top of the web page. There are a lot of problems with this sort of installation. More than most floor boutiques are going to admit, of remedy. The article is a must read, before you install any floor on a concrete slab on grade.

You may also find these articles helpful:

1. Orbital Floor Sander

2. Plank And Strip Flooring

3. Floor Types And Finishes

4. Custom Staining Wood Floors Without The Blotchy Effect

5. How To Take Care Of Your Health And Safety when Installing, Finishing, Repairing or Cleaning your wood floors