Engineered hardwood floors are a home’s best friend and add beauty to any room. They are easy to maintain, clean, and are more appealing than carpet, but are they stained and sealed against moisture, stains, and scratches like ordinary hardwood floors?
Engineered hardwood floors are pre-finished before leaving a factory. Although they are sealed, it is recommended for buyers to add an extra layer of protection against environmental factors and assist with their durability.
There is a great deal of discussion around engineered hardwood and whether it is necessary to add a seal to them once they arrive. Read on to learn how to tell if your engineered hardwood floors are sufficiently sealed and whether they need added protection.
How Can I Tell If My Hardwood Is Sealed?
Engineered hardwood floors do come with a seal. However, in most cases, further sealing your engineered hardwood flooring is essential to prevent damage. Just like testing on regular hardwood, there are a few ways to test the flooring in your home to determine whether or not it has a seal by testing for the following elements and conducting procedures:
- Water Beading
- Oil or Wax
- Aluminum Oxide
These methods will allow you to tell whether or not your engineered hardwood floors are sufficiently sealed and protected from wear and tear and the elements.
The most popular way to test if your engineered hardwood floors have laminate is to perform what is called the “water beading test.” It is the easiest and quickest way to spot whether or not your floors have seals. All you need to get started is a glass of water and choose a small area you are willing to subject to for testing.
When you have gathered your small glass of water and have chosen your spot, pour a small bead of water onto the hardwood floor. It is important to make sure you get the water into the center of the board and not on the seams, or else the test will not produce the best results.
What happens when the water is emptied on the boards?
- Polyurethane, an element used when pre-finishing flooring, will leave the seams unprotected.
- If water slips onto the seam, it could leak into the floorboards.
- This could potentially lead to warped boards.
Five minutes is the time it will take to obtain the test results. In the meantime, it is a great idea to occupy yourself. When the time comes to check your experiment, you want to check to see if they are similar in shape or have not soaked in because if so, that indicates your hardwood floors are sealed.
Oil and Wax
Testing for oil and wax on a potentially sealed, engineered hardwood is as simple as water beading. The first, most common, and fastest way to determine if it is oil that was used to seal your wood, drag your hand along the surface. If there is a grainy texture of the wood, it is safe to assume it was sealed with oil.
If you have oil on hand of any kind, you can use it to also test for oil sealing. All that is required is to place a few drops onto the hardwood and watch carefully to see if the oil has soaked into the wood. If it has, then you have a penetrating finish, in other terms, a finish made with a type of oil.
- Sometimes, but not always, engineered hardwood can be sealed with a layer of wax.
- One way to test your flooring for a wax seal, locate a hidden spot and scratch the edge of a coin against the hardwood.
- If it is composed of wax material, rubbing the coin will lift the wax build-up onto the coin.
Another option for wax testing is to find an old rag, soak it in mineral spirits, and begin rubbing the spot with the cloth. The friction between the flooring and the rag will cause discoloration to disturb the rag’s original color. It is important to remember if your engineer flooring has a wax finish, restore the finish before stripping the original.
A film finish, which is typically glossy and soft, can be determined by performing a scraping test on the engineered flooring. Hunker, a well-known lifestyle blog, mentions that a sharper blade, such as a utility knife is needed for the scraping test.
When you have selected your weapon of choice, take the blade and run it along with either a hidden or unused board, observing for shavings that signal it has been sealed with matters like polyurethane or shellac. There is a way to investigate whether it is shellac or polyurethane.
Hunker suggests when testing for the shellac to, “Test for shellac by placing a shot glass over a single drop of alcohol and checking if the material dissolves; if yes, you have shellac. If that test is negative, the film coating is varnish, polyurethane, or aluminum oxide.”
If your engineered floors are sealed with either material, and you are looking to recoat the flooring, first determine whether wax or oil products were used to coat the floor. If they are, lightly screening the floors will not be effective, and professionals recommend sanding it before applying a new finish.
Aluminum oxide finishes are the most desired for hardwood because of their ability to prolong the floor’s lifespan, protect and preserve the flooring much better compared to others. Each plank of wood is finished inside the factory where it is manufactured, and because of this, the wood is thickened.
A writer from BuildDirect blogs about the efficiency of aluminum Oxide, “This benefit provides a natural hard and durable material to supplement the heartiness of the wood floor you have chosen. And it also contributes to the long-term health of the material overall.”
The appearance of the flooring can assist with identifying whether it was finished with aluminum oxide. Since this type of finish allows engineered wood to last for years, if the floor appears to look older, then it is mostly not aluminum oxide. As mentioned before, the wood is thick and can be another factor in determining the finish.
Why Do Engineered Hardwood Floors Need Seal?
Engineered hardwood floors can be a great addition to one’s home. They are attractive and feel just like regular hardwood floors. However, engineered hardwood floors have a few advantages over regular hardwood floors.
- They are usually more affordable than traditional hardwood floors.
- They are made out of recyclable wood and, therefore, more environmentally friendly.
- They are very versatile and can be installed on various subfloors.
Just like hardwood, engineered hardwood requires protection from the elements in order to last a long time. Scratches, dents, dust, and dirt, as well as water damage, can all wreak havoc on hardwood floors of all kinds. The seal is there to protect hardwood floors from these catastrophes. A seal can be made from different materials to ensure protection against moisture, water damage, and wear-and-tear.
Engineered hardwood flooring always comes sealed and prepared to be installed. Wood specialists often suggest having buyers reseal their floors for extra protection and to expand lifespan. Either way, engineered hardwood has proven to be successful – if not more beneficial to homeowners who are looking for a cheap, easy way to rid carpet!
Whether it is dropping water on the board or running a blade across the wooden plank, it is always best to use a section of the engineered wood that is hidden or not in use. It is important for an owner looking to reseal the wood that they contact a specialist for some materials such as aluminum oxide and film before getting their hands dirty.