Updated for 2020
If you’ve already started reviewing your options in the hardwood flooring market, then you’ll be well aware that engineered hardwood flooring is an increasingly popular and available product, that is usually very competitively priced compared to solid hardwood flooring (upwards of $2.20 per square foot for engineered hardwood, compared to upwards of $3.40 per square foot for solid hardwood). But how do you find the best engineered wood flooring and is it any good, you ask?
Well, the answer to that depends on several factors. If you’re an architectural purist in the midst of renovating a vintage home, you may balk at the idea of installing what is effectively a composite wood product (engineered wood is made of a top veneer layer of the real hardwood adhered to several other layers of plywood or other wood).
However, for most people who just love the look of wood floors, the fact that engineered wood flooring is often tricky to tell apart from solid wood once installed, easier to install and suited to every area of the home (including the basement where moisture levels can be problematic for solid wood*) means that authenticity is often of lesser concern. Engineered flooring also allows for those with a tighter budget to access exotic woods or specialist finishes that might otherwise be out of their reach.
But, as with everything to do with your home, you will get what you pay for. Higher-end, best quality engineered hardwood that has a good 2-6 mm thick top veneer layer that can be sanded and refinished over time (similar to solid wood) and can last between 40-80 years; engineered hardwood with a thinner veneer cannot be refinished and generally will not last longer than 30 years. Better/best quality will also ensure that the layers are well adhered, which will avoid the possibility of distortion that you can get with lower quality products.
All in all, the best engineered hardwood flooring will meet most homeowners needs. Check out our engineered hardwood flooring guide for more details about installation, maintenance and prices; if you’re already convinced, then here’s our review round-up of the best engineered hardwood brands on the market.
* NB – Only install engineered hardwood flooring in basements where the moisture level is no more than 4%.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring Reviews
Here are our reviews of some of the most popular engineered wood flooring manufacturers.
If you’re looking for the industry standard in engineered hardwood, then Anderson are it! It was the innovative team at Anderson that first came up with the idea to construct engineered wood using their now trademarked Cross-Lock system that alternates the grain direction of five separate wood plies to create a plank that is as strong as steel and uses much less raw wood than solid wood flooring. Today all engineered hardwood brands & manufacturers use this same method – but Anderson were the first, and are still very highly regarded as one of the best.
Anderson currently offers two brands: Virginia Vintage and Anderson, with each brand made up of several different collections of both solid and engineered hardwood. Anderson is also of particular interest as it is one of the few flooring brands on the market that does its plank texturing (such as hand scraping, wire-brushing and so on) by actual humans as opposed to by machine, giving each plank a truly unique character.
Although there is an emphasis on rustic or traditional aesthetics (especially in the Virginia Vintage brand), there are also some more contemporary sleeker designs in the Anderson brand. A very trustworthy brand with a great reputation.
Armstrong, as you probably already know, are one of the global leaders in all things flooring with vast product lines covering all kinds of wood, laminate, vinyl, tile, linoleum and natural stone. When it comes to reviewing their engineered wood, Armstrong currently offers two main brands, their own Armstrong brand and also the Bruce brand, which was incorporated into Armstrong in 1998. As you would expect from such a successful company, they do have a very strong engineered wood offering, with currently 417 different Armstrong and Bruce engineered wood planks listed on their website, that are grouped into several different collections!
The advantage of such a large range is that there is definitely something to suit every taste here; and they include both domestic wood species such as oak, walnut, birch, cherry, hickory, pecan, maple, and exotic wood species including Brazilian cherry, tigerwood, sapele, santos mahogany, acacia and cabreuva.
Their website is a great starting point to review this vast range as there are several search options allowing you to drill down to the kind of look you want, the type of wood, the plank size or even what kind of DIY level you have. Plus the site offers a wealth of information about each type of floor; note that their different collections have different warranties, so check the detail of the warranty (also available on their website) to get an idea of the durability of the top veneer. For a selection of
The Columbia Flooring company is one of the three brands that form Unilin, which in turn is now part of the giant Mohawk Industries (see below) – it’s fairly confusing, yes! But, confusion aside, this interwoven web of flooring companies has a very good reputation and benefits from combining technological advances. For example, both Mohawk and Columbia use the Uniclic locking system on some (though not all) of their floors.
As far as engineered flooring reviews go, the collections available at Columbia are not extensive (currently there are just 15 engineered hardwood collections), but they are all rather attractive – and often when it comes to flooring, less is more: too much choice can actually just be too much!
To Get Started
Of particular interest are the Wimberly and Beacon Oak collections which have rather attractive distinct veining. The lovely double-stained, weathered, wire-brushed look of the Wimberly (pictured above left) is available in eight colors including four on-trend gray tones; whilst the sleek Beacon Oak (pictured above right) with its stylish satin finish is available in five different classic colors. If you don’t want to get bogged down with too many decisions, Columbia is a great place to start.
With excellent green credentials – locally sourced materials from suppliers that have reforestation programs and using environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes – the engineered flooring available at From the Forest is definitely worth investigating.
Located in Wisconsin, this relative new-comer to the flooring market has been expanding since its launch in 2007 to now offer seven collections of attractive engineered floors covering a range of styles, colors and sizes.
What we like most about their products is that the wood veneer layer for each collection has been sliced from the log in specific ways to create a specific look; so for example in the Northwoods Original collection they use rotary slicing to get a bold variegated grain pattern, the Vineyard collection is made with a plain sliced veneer for a more delicate cathedral grain pattern, and the Woodland Treasures collection is done with a décor cut to achieve varied, rustic grain patterns.
It’s that kind of attention to detail that affords their products a quality look and finish. All of the From the Forest engineered wood products are easily installed with either a tongue and groove interlocking or a click and tap system.
And most of their products are finished with a hard-wearing, scratch resistant wear layer made with ceramic based aluminium oxide. And there is no added formaldehyde.
Note that From the Forest do not recommend installing their engineered flooring in bathrooms.
From the Forest also retail their own underlayment, flooring cleaner and – interestingly – a scratch concealer kit. Personally, we find it refreshing that From the Forest admit that scratches are always possible, no matter how hard the wear layer or how careful the homeowner!
If you are looking for engineered hardwood products that are best for the environment, then look no further than Green Building Supply (a retailer rather than a manufacturer), who stock a number of eco-building materials and home goods all of which have passed their strict guidelines for sustainability and quality.
They currently stock three key brands for eco-friendly engineered hardwood flooring: one of our favorites, Kährs (see below), USFloors and Tesoro Woods.
The Tesoro Woods product line is particularly interesting as, established in 1992 and then named Eco Timber, it was the first U.S. company founded specifically to sell sustainable wood products. They have been offering engineered flooring from 1996, but in 2004 went the extra mile by being the first to offer an engineered hardwood product made without added urea formaldehyde, showing further proof of their commitment to meet the “very highest environmental and quality standards”.
With both exotic woods and domestic woods in their collections, there’s a good range to suit most homes. Most of their collections favor the unstained or natural aesthetic that fully celebrates the raw beauty of the wood; though the Coastal Lowlands collection does have some pretty stained finishes, particularly in shades of gray. Tesoro Woods do not sell direct from their own website, hence the link to Green Building Supply, but you can purchase samples from all their collections on the Tesoro Woods website.
Our next engineered hardwood review is for an historic hardwood flooring company first established as a family concern in 1898, which went on to be incorporated into Tarkett in the 1980s and more recently has been acquired by Q.E.P. Co., Inc. But despite these many changes it continues to strive for “extraordinary customer service and our superior products exceed your expectations”.
Specializing uniquely in domestic engineered wood flooring that is all certified Made in America, you’ll find that the Harris Wood range is small but very nicely formed, with hickory and red oak heavily featured. Whilst their general aesthetic tends towards more classic looks, there are a few more contemporary floors such as the Red Oak Sterling Grey from the Traditions SpringLoc Collection and the hickory floors in the Highlands collection is available in an on-trend 7” wide plank.
Most of the flooring from Harris Wood has a top layer of around 2mm, which makes it a good option if you’re on a tight budget but still want a floor that will last a while. Retailing from around $2.90 per square foot, Harris Wood flooring is a good mid-range choice.
To Get Started
If your budget is extremely tight, then your best option is to look at the Home Legend engineered hardwood floors that are widely available through Home Depot. Retailing from as little as $1.98 per square foot and with a fairly decent reputation and equally decent 30 year warranty, Home Legend floors will allow you to get a good looking hardwood floor without breaking the bank. Another advantage is that most Home Legend floors use the Click Lock installation method – useful if you’re planning to go down the DIY route.
Home Legend distinguishes itself with its aim to capture “old-world craftsmanship with high quality flooring products that provide fashion and beauty to your home”. In reality what this means is that style-wise, the range is fairly traditional in aesthetics – mainly brown, red and tan tones – with predominantly domestic wood species, though they do have a few options in exotics such as Brazilian cherry, cumaru and tigerwood too. Because the overall brand look tends towards the traditional, you will also find some quite attractive Home Legend engineered floors with hand scraped and distressed finishes.
OK, perhaps it’s just because I do a fair bit of work online, but website design does matter to me – and I have to say that the Kährs website has been designed superbly! For a start when you reach the wood floor section (Kährs also make resilient flooring) you get to see ALL their ranges, collections and color options, all at once in small thumbnails. It makes it so much easier to compare different collections. You can then easily drill down to find the specific ones that match the species, thickness, design features, surface treatment or look you want. They also have a super cool interactive room design tool! But – of course -a great website is not the only reason to review Kährs.
Like all the best engineered wood flooring brands, Kährs has stood the test of time (it was established in 1857) by consistently offering good quality products by embracing innovation. One of the best innovations they pioneered in the 1980s and still used today are their solvent-free surface treatments (in the silk matt, matt and oil finishes). Kährs are also one of the few engineered flooring manufacturers who seem to truly embrace today’s design trends and offer flooring that really will work with contemporary and modern/ minimalist décor, as well as offering several more classic flooring options too.
If you weren’t sure which brand offers the biggest choice of engineered hardwood floors, you can be sure now… Mohawk currently offer well over 800 different engineered wood floors! This enormous tally is to be expected from this leading flooring company that has invested in a huge portfolio of brand acquisitions over the years (including Columbia, see above). With over 15 different brands covering practically every kind of flooring, it would be crazy if Mohawk didn’t have a great range of engineered wood floors.
Of course, the potential trouble with so much choice is that it becomes impossible to choose! The good news is that the Mohawk website has a decent search filter so that you can begin your research online and see what the different species of wood look like, then from there go on to also choose shade and finish.
You can also find out which options are suitable for installation in the different levels of your home (lower, ground or upper) which is helpful if you’re renovating a basement. To hone your choices even further, I’d recommend checking that you’ve got one with a long duration warranty – Mohawk floors warranties range from as little as 10 to as much as 50 years.
As you may already know, Shaw Floors are one of the industry giants, operating for over 40 years to bring quality flooring in a range of materials to the market. With so many years’ experience, it’s no surprise that they have also brought several technological advances to the market too, and are often ranked #1 in consumer and industry surveys.
Shaw Floors offers a good range of engineered hardwood products: there are currently four main collections, which translates into around 23 different designs, most of which have at least 3 color options! That’s a lot of choice!
Their most recent collection, and one which is definitely worth a look is their EPIC Plus collection. Shaw Floors claim that the improvements that they’ve made to their innovative Stabilitek core makes it “the most durable, impact-resistant hardwood on the market”. Shaw’s first version of the Stabilitek core – a high density fiber board – was already pretty good, and now they made it even stronger and more dimensionally stable, particularly good for areas that are prone of high humidity levels, such as below-grade basements.
Aside from the strength of the actual boards, the EPIC Plus collection features some pretty good looking engineered planks. There are essentially three domestic wood species in the collection – oak, maple or hickory – available in five different textures including reclaimed/ distressed, wire brushed, hand scraped and smooth, and with four width options and several colorways. There’s basically something to suit everyone’s tastes in this collection.
If you’re not into oak, maple or hickory, then have a look at Shaw’s other three engineered flooring collections offer some different wood species options such as ash, walnut, kupay, and birch alongside those three stalwarts.
Somerset Hardwood Flooring is one of those rare things in the flooring industry these days: a privately owned, independent company, that still has its roots exactly where its story began – in the heart of Appalachian timberlands in Somerset, Kentucky.
The brand prides itself in producing quality hardwood flooring, both in solid and engineered specs, and has a strategically chosen range of products to suit a broad client base. The other great thing about Somerset is that, because the entire operation is vertically integrated, they control every step of the manufacturing process, from milling the lumber to applying the finish.
There are currently nine Somerset flooring collections, of which four are available both as solid and engineered construction, and two collections that are purely engineered hardwood. As you would expect each collection has its own particularity, from the subtly textured Hand Crafted collection to the Character collection that highlights inherent knots, markings and variations in the grain.
We particularly like the options available in the on-trend, engineered Wide Plank collection, Hickory Toast Wide Plank shown on the right in the image above.
One final thing to note is that as timber is sourced locally, the Somerset collections are made using Appalachian oak, hickory, maple and walnut; so if you want to support great American industry, Somerset is the way to go!
Are there any engineered flooring brands that you’d like us to review? Or another engineered wood floor you think is the best? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.