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Engineered Wood Flooring Solves Hardwood Problems

Hardwood is the king of flooring but traditional hardwood floors require expensive skilled labour to install, encumber the construction site during finishing, and are prone to client call-backs as soon as the humidity changes. Hence the flooring industry has developed product after product attempting to provide that old-fashioned hardwood look without the problems. Traditional-style hardwood planks can now be obtained pre-finished in an attempt to avoid the finishing issues, but the rest of the problems remain.
Laminate flooring, generally defined as a plastic laminate photographic layer over a pressboard base, has gained popularity because is gives the hardwood look without the price tag. However, both the feel of the floor and the lack of durability exclude it from quality construction and renovation.
Engineered wood flooring, defined as a wood veneer over plywood or a glue-assembled solid wood base, is far more stable and durable than the plastic laminates. It comes in many different formats and is generally pre-finished. For most engineered wood flooring, the installation remains a task for skilled labourers.
EZ-Plank Flooring Inc. has come out with what it touts as the ultimate in engineered wood flooring. EZ-Plank boards are comprised of a multi-strip solid oak core with top-quality upper and lower veneers for appearance and stability. Each board "locks" to the next, using the EZ-LOC system, which is machined into hardwood to make a solid and reliable locking tongue-and-groove assembly.
Installation typically requires a quarter to half the time of traditional hardwood because of the EZ-LOC, slashing labour costs by as much as 75 per cent and allowing much faster project delivery times. They make each board 3-1/4" x 5/8" x 36" long, permitting a variety of regular or random patterns.
EZ-Plank claims to be tough. It is pre-finished with eight coats of New Generation DurAlOx High Density U-V-Poly-Urethane with Aluminum Oxide. As the manufacturer says, "All of this makes EZ-Plank a refreshing and exceptionally competitive alternative to traditional installed hardwood, without many of the risks and challenges of associated with traditional installed hardwood."
EZ-Plank claims numerous other advantages for the renovator or builder when you look at the flexibility of installation this product offers. It can be nailed down, glued down or floated. Because of the locking tongue and groove you have the choice of a permanent or removable installation. If you want a permanent floating floor, a small bead of PL Premium can be added to the groove to prevent the boards from sliding open at the butt ends.
The locking tongue and groove also means that it is self aligning, making perfectly straight rows. It does not require skilled labour, not even semi-skilled labour, which means that you can have the hardwood floor installed by the youngest (and least expensive) member of your crew rather than hiring a sub-contractor. Being pre-finished, you can walk on it as soon as it is down.
There is very little waste with EZ-Plank because what is cut off from one row can be used to start the next row. If you want any of a variety of brick work, staggered, stair-stepped or other regular patterns, you will have a little more waste, but the standard three-foot lengths make patterns easy to build. When the floor is floated, there will be some expansion and contraction across the grain, but almost none with the grain. Space cannot open between planks because of the tongue-and-groove lock and they can be butted into the walls on the ends of the planks if you do not want to glue the planks together to prevent opening by sliding.
What about long-term durability? A serious gouge could potentially cut through the finish veneer and into the real oak base below. Because the grain of the base board is in the same direction as the veneer, this is just as easy to repair as with a solid oak floor. A little stain and a touch of polyurethane and it disappears as well as with a traditional solid oak floor. It is true that you will not want to do any heavy sanding of that finished veneer, but with the eight-coat DurAlOx finish, use a product like Varathane's Renewal if and when you need to brighten up the floor and you will never even wear down to the veneer.
EZ-Plank is available in Golden Oak and the popular Gun Stock and list price is just under $4 per sq. ft. It is available across Canada through stores carrying or affiliated with the RONA banner.

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