Basically engineered wood flooring is nothing more than plywood with a certain species VENEER on the top layer. In general, they come in 3/8″ to 9/16″ thickness and are usually 5 cross ply products just like plywood. The actual overall thickness of the product is less important than the actual thickness of the top VENEER. Although a 9/16″ product is likely more stable and more likely to hide subfloor imperfections, it’s pretty much marketing. Any “thickness” engineered wood flooring should perform well if installed properly.
The factory finished VENEER is what you are walking on. This is the real VALUE for the end user. It is also a high percentage of the cost to manufacture engineered wood flooring. The VENEERS on the market nowadays range from around .065 mm on the low side, to around 4 mm on the high side. Keep in mind that .065 is about the thickness of 3-4 sheets of printer paper. “Peeled” veneers are also less durable and less expensive to manufacture vs “Sawn” veneers.
People may argue that the current U.V. cured urethane finishes with aluminum oxide are extremely durable, and take the brunt of the foot traffic. Although these finishes are highly durable against abrasive wear, it is my opinion that this is not the case. I see way too many low end products with issues that relate to thin VENEERS. They are most common in low end “specials”, and even more so in new construction homes.
Wood flooring is EXPENSIVE. Installation costs are a large portion of the expense. I’ve listened to way too many consumers with legitimate concerns tell me how much they paid for the wood flooring in their home. New construction home buyers are probably one of the most I encounter. “Builder Grade” products and “Specials” rank lowest in VENEER thickness and are some of the lowest grade products produced. Yes I know they look GREAT, but for how long? Remember you will be WALKING on it, it’s flooring and it takes a lot of abuse!
EDUCATE YOURSELF. BE AWARE. ASK QUESTIONS. How thick is the VENEER of the engineered wood flooring you are considering? Personally, I would not even consider an engineered wood floor with less than a 2 mm VENEER.