A salesperson told me engineered flooring is harder than solid flooring because the layers are pressed together so hard the fiber is compressed. Is that true?
Tony Miraldi, director of technical services at Somerset Wood Products, answers:
This sounds very much like a sales statement with some misinformation mixed in.
I'm sure our process is typical for the industry. All our engineered flooring goes thru a "roll" press where each individual blank runs between steel rolls that apply about 1,500 pounds of direct pressure, eliminating any gap that might exist between the face and the core. The adhesive is a pressure-sensitive polyurethane with an open time of just 90 seconds, so the entire process from application of adhesive on the core to having a face placed on the adhesive and going through the roll press happens in seconds. Subsequently, a moisture-cure takes place, and the blank is ready for milling. We don't present the product as "harder" because it gets 1,500 lbs. of pressure to the face.
We checked with Dr. Alex Wiedenhoeft at the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, and he was unaware of any studies regarding this topic. But he added, "Even if surface densification were the case (which I am inclined to doubt), one might reasonably expect in factory-finished products that the sanding and finishing process would remove any such densified surface."
In general, hardness is highly oversold in our industry. Too many people and companies use Janka ratings as a sales feature and don't bother to tell the customer the floor will still scratch. Regardless of what type of finish is applied, the finish is what people are actually living on, and that is what shows the scratching—no matter how hard the wood is underneath that finish. We want people to buy our product with real expectations regarding what it will and will not do.