Engineered Hardwood and Hand Scraped Hardwood Flooring

Engineered Hardwood and Hand Scraped Hardwood Flooring

On our post explaining hand scraped flooring, we were given this question from Akil. I think it's best answered with the help of pictures, which I cannot put into comments, so I've decided to tackle it in a proper post. Here's the question.

Hi David,

Thank you for explaining. We are going to built a new home pretty soon and we are first time home buyers. Our builder shows the option of having the engineered hardwood or handscraped wood. Engineered hardwood is less expensive than handscraped according to their quote. We have always lived in carpet so no idea about hardwood floors at all. We have a son and not sure about the maintanence of this hardwood floor. Few are recommending us to go for Handscraped floor because of scratch resistence and nice rich look. Can you please help us with your insights on this? Please educate us with the engineered hardwood vs handscraped. Which do u think is a good option? Much appreciate your time and opinion.  

What Engineered Is

Hello, Akil. First I need to make a distinction. Engineered hardwood is one of two kinds of hardwood flooring, the other being solid. The link in the previous sentence goes to a post with a video explaining the differences in detail, but basically solid hardwood is a big, thick board made out of a single piece of wood. Engineered hardwood is made of criss-crossed layers, up to 9, with the top layer being the species, color or style the planks are given. Both are real hardwood, and both can be handscraped (we have engineered hand scraped hardwood flooring on our site if you want to see some).  

Solid is, well, "solid," while Engineered is a layered floor.   

What Hand Scraped Is

''Hand scraped'' is not a kind of flooring, so much as a style, a way

the surface can be made to look. These days it can apply to almost any kind of flooring made of wood, or intended to look like wood. Genuinely hand scraped floors can come in both solid and engineered hardwood. The look itself has also been replicated in laminate and vinyl plank floors. The result is just a wavy surface, a handmade look rather than a smooth one. Hand scraped on the left, and a normal, smooth surface on the right.
Hand scraped on the left, and a normal, smooth surface on the right.  

Scratching and Maintenance

As far as hardwood durability and care, what matters is not the hand scraped feature, but what the flooring actually is, and then with hardwood the surface treatment - the type of finish, and how many coats are applied. Your basic kinds of flooring with a wood look are hardwood (solid or engineered), laminate and vinyl plank. With hardwood, the durability is affected greatly by the species of wood. There are very dense hardwoods available, and softer ones. In a high activity room, you would want a denser floor. That said, there is a limit. There is no hardwood on which one should ever walk with high heeled shoes, for instance. None of them can take that.

Hand scraped hardwoods are not more or less scratch resistant than smooth surfaced woods. What can happen is that, because the surface is already deliberately imperfect, scratches and dents will blend in. With wood, aside from the species, the only thing affecting its scratch resistance would be the kind and number of coats of finish on the surface. Pre-finished hardwoods can have as many as 9 coats, which is pretty good. Those finished in the home after installation usually only get up to 3 because of the time needed both to do them, and to allow each coat to set before doing the next one.

Laminate floors, on the other hand, can take the high heels, almost all of them. These were invented for the exact reason of giving people a hardwood style floor with greater durability. The aluminum oxide surface coating, which is the standard top layer of a laminate floor, is tough stuff. These were designed for active households with kids and pets. Look for an "AC Rating". This is a standardized durability rating for all laminate floors based on a series of tests. The range is 1-5, with 3 being the highest level for residential uses, 4 & 5 being for commercial uses (which means they would be even better in the home than a 3). Look for at least a 3. Like hardwood, scratch resistance is neither helped nor harmed by the surface having a hand scraped texture.

Vinyl plank flooring is less scratch resistant than laminate, but more resistant to chipping. If you drop your toaster on a laminate floor, you could very well chip a plank. Vinyl should just temporarily dent - meaning that the dent should work itself out. Its other benefit is being 100% waterproof. Both hardwood and laminate must be protected from spills and high humidity (such as steam from a shower). Vinyl plank can just be wiped up, or if the spill is big (a 'flood', if you will) pulled out of the way so the subfloor can be dried out, and then the same planks can be put back down. If you flood a laminate or a hardwood floor, you will also probably be have to replace it.  

What to do?

If you want a floor that looks like wood, you have a lot of very nice looking options, all with different features.

Hardwood Laminate Vinyl

You are being offered engineered hardwood, and something else which is hand scraped. Your builder needs to tell you what kind of flooring is being offered in the hand scraped form since it could be solid hardwood, a laminate floor, vinyl plank or even another engineered hardwood. What the floor is made of actually makes the most difference in the ways that seem to be important to you. For instance, if they are offering a non-hand scraped engineered hardwood vs. a hand scraped laminate, then what they say is true, the latter should be less expensive and more scratch resistant, though neither have to do with the hand scraped look. But it is only fair for you to be allowed to find out what, exactly, they are offering you, so you can make the best decisions.  

Now, if you want to talk more specifically, either just about what your options are, or to get more information after you learn more from your builder, please feel free to contact us. Even if you don't plan to buy floors from us. Our customer service folks are very knowledgeable and like to be helpful. Really, they will answer any questions you have. This image links to our main site. It's right at the top of the page, and there the ''chat'' and email ("@") links work, in case either of those would be your preference for getting ahold of us.  

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David has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with  W. David Lichty


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