As discussed in more detail on our engineered wood flooring advice page, this is a type of real wood floor that utilises a multi-layer construction with flexible, heat and moisture resistant softwoods like spruce and pine on the lower layers and the more valuable, beautiful hardwood like oak or walnut on the top layer. So, you always have to bear in mind that wood is a natural material and, as such, it’s not invincible nor immortal. But is engineered wood flooring scratch resistant?
Is it treated?
If it’s unfinished, then the simple answer is no. An engineered wood floor that is untreated will not only be succeptible to moisture ingress and water damage but also to scratching and marking. You can buy unfinished engineered wood floors but should never leave them untreated. The purpose of unfinished wood floors is for you to buy them and treat them yourself with either a lacquer or oil but not only is this an arduous task, and expensive if you are paying a fitter to do it for you, it’s also very difficult to get an even, professional looking finish when manually applying a treatment to your floor.
So, the vast majority of engineered wood floors come ready treated and the purpose of these treatments is to protect the natural hardwood from moisture, scratches and marks. The different in price between an unfinished wood floor and a treated wood floor is so minimal it makes for an easy choice to invest that little bit extra in a treated floor to ensure that the hardwood is protected and that it looks top notch with a professional looking finish and an even coverage.
So, is engineered wood flooring scratch resistant? Yes, so long as the flooring is professionally treated with either a lacquer or oil, this will give a surface layer of protection against moisture and wear and tear.
However, its important to understand the differences in these various treatments so you can pick a floor that is going to best suit your requirements.
Lacquered or Oiled?
There are two main types of finishing for a wood floor, lacquered or oiled. Generally speaking, lacquered floors are a little more resistant to marking and scratching than oiled floors though there are some important details to understand.
Applying a lacquer to the floor, essentially adds a surface layer of lacquer atop the hardwood, whether it be satin, matt or even ultra-matt lacquer. The differences between those is the amount of shine created by the lacquer. A satin lacquer reflects the light the most and so gives the shiniest appearance. This was the most popular finish in the past. Today’s market demands a more natural looking finish, and so matt lacquer and the newer ultra-matt lacquer finishes are far more on trend right now.
The lacquer creates a barrier to protect the floor and essentially makes the engineered wood flooring scratch resistant. The lacquer, itself, could get marked or scratched, but that can easily be touched up with a new coat of lacquer when needed. So, the only way more serious damage can be caused is if a scratch penetrates all the way through the lacquer and into the surface of the hardwood underneath.
Again, this can be rectified by sanding back the floor and then re-applying the lacquer. You can find out more about repairing scratches in a wood floor here.
If a resistance to marks and scratches is one of your priorities for your wood floor, then a lacquered finish is the way to go. But it’s worth being aware that there are some compromises in terms of the look and feel of your floor with a lacquered finish.
Adding a protective surface layer of lacquer to a floor, creates a smooth top layer and hides the texture of the natural wood beneath. For some consumers, that natural feel is just as important as the look of the floor, and losing the texture of the wood grain is a big loss. There are refining treatments applied to some floors, such as brushing and handscraping, to recreate the texture even with the lacquered finish. You can view our brushed lacquer floors here.
But for some consumers, it’s no substitute for the real texture of the wood and that’s where an oiled finish comes into play.
Natural Oiled Flooring
This is currently the most popular finish in the wood flooring market because it gives the most natural look and feel to your wood floor. And lets face it, if you are investing in a real wood floor over a mock alternative like laminate or vinyl, its generally because you see the natural wood as the star of the show.
So ensuring your floor maintains and accentuates the natural features of the wood is important and an oiled finish does just that.
An oiled finish seeps into the surface of the wood, creating a hidden layer of protection that still protects the wood, particularly against moisture, but doesn’t create a smooth barrier between the wood and the external environment. So you can still feel the natural texture of the wood and your floor will also be shine-free. A completely natural finish.
The downside is that oiled floors are less resistant to marks and scratches. Re-oiling a floor is a lot quicker and easier than re-lacquering on the other hand, so if the scratches are only minor surface scratches, adding a new coat of oil is often enough to hide them and restore the floor to its former glory.
Is Engineered Wood Flooring Scratch Resistant?
For a natural wood floor that is scratch resistant, make sure the floor is ready-treated and we would recommend a lacquered finish for the strongest protection against scratches. If you want to avoid a smooth surface and prefer some texture in your wood flooring, then refine your search to brushed lacquer or brushed & handscraped lacquer floors.
If you prefer to feel the real, natural texture of the wood under your feet, then opt for an oiled finish. The oil will still provide some protection for your floor, without compromising on texture.
But for the most scratch-resistant wood floor, a lacquered finish is the best way to go.
Repairing Scratches and Chips in Engineered Wood Floors
Of course, whilst the lacquers and oils used to protect wood floors help to make them scratch resistant, nothing is invincible and if you do get scratches or chips in your wood floor that have penetrated through the protective layer into the hardwood beneathe, then do not fear – repairing these is very doable with the right equipment and doesn’t require an expensive outlay to get your floor back looking its best.
We stock and supply the Kahrs Repair Kit for wood floors. It gives you everything you need to repair scratches and chips in your wood floor, and comes with step-by-step instructions. Included in the kit is a generous supply of meltable wax woodfiller sticks in a range of colors and tones, that can be blended to create a perfect colour match for your floor. Along with a lightweight battery powered wax melter tool (batteries included), 10 wax woodfiller sticks, a clear lacquer gloss brush pen, an oil finisher, a two-sided polishing cloth to increase or reduce floor shine, a soft sanding pad for smoothing out and degreasing any repairs, and clear written instructions.
The demonstration videos below give you a visual guide to refer to and illustrate that with a bit of care and attention, you can get your floor looking as a good as new for very little expense. Some tips to bear in mind:-
- Use several of the different colour shades of wax sticks to get a good match, not just for the colour of your floor, but for the natural wood grain running through it.
- Start with the lightest shade first, through to the darkest.
- Only shave off a small amount of wax at a time.
- After filling the chip or crack, use the tip of the melting tool and a darker shade of wax to create the wood grain pattern.
Watch the videos below to see this technique in action.