What is a wear layer? To answer this question simply, the wear layer is basically the thickness of hardwood that sits on top of the multiply core for engineered wood flooring. These two elements combined present you with an engineered wooden floor.
The wear layer can vary in thickness from as thin as 2mm up to 6mm. A thicker wear layer contributes to a floor lasting longer as it can be sanded many more times.
When you think of solid wood flooring, although it is solid, the boards can still only be worn down to a certain point. In the case of solid this would be the tongue and groove. Once worn down to this point the flooring would last no longer. The distance from the top of the tongue to the top surface of a solid wood board would vary but generally speaking on an 18mm thick solid oak board it would be around 6mm. Therefore if you purchased an engineered board with a 6mm wear layer such as the ‘Supreme’ engineered oak flooring range it would have the same life expectancy as a solid floorboard.
How long does the wear layer last?
As we established the thicker the wear layer the more times the floor can be re-sanded and therefore the longer it will last. This being said how long a floor will last until it needs sanding is entirely dependent on what its treated with and how you look after it. Even a 2-3mm wear layer will last decades if treated and maintained properly.
Before you purchase your floor make sure you consider how durable the finish is that you are purchasing and applying. It is very important that you know how to clean and maintain it as this will help keep it looking its best. Keep this in mind especially if you are laying the floor into a particularly busy room in your house, as after many years of constant use you will wear through the finish, and having the ability to replenish the boards can prove to be very helpful.
Many of our customers choose to treat their floor with quality products such as Treatex hardwax oil once the flooring has been laid. This will give the floor a very durable finish and also a finish that is easily cleaned, maintained and replenished. It is a quality product that we and many others who have used it stand by.
What wear layer is necessary for your property?
The overall thickness of a board and the wear layer of a board are very much linked as generally speaking the thicker the board is, the thicker the wear layer is. For example if you take a look at our 14mm thick ‘Country’ range it has a 3mm wear layer of oak whereas our 21mm thick ‘Supreme’ range has a 6mm wear layer of oak.
Depending on the surface you are laying onto you must be cautious of the thickness you are purchasing, for example if you were spanning joists your flooring would need to be structural and therefore any flooring less than 21mm thick would not be suitable meaning you would have no choice but to go for a board with a 6mm wear layer. If you were laying onto a solid surface such as plywood, chipboard, concrete etc. then you are not restricted in terms of needing such a thick board. You may still have an issue though in terms of height. It may be that you cannot go any thicker than a 15mm thick board and therefore you would have to rule out going for a board with a 6mm wear layer.
If you are not restricted for any of these reasons then it’s always hard to say what thickness of wear layer you should go for as any hardwood floor will last decades if looked after properly.
Of course a thinner board with less of a wear layer will be cheaper but not by a huge amount. If you compare our 15mm thick ‘Classic’ range to our 21mm thick ‘Supreme’ range there is £4.45 + VAT per m2 difference between them. This can of course add up to be quite a saving but often isn’t enough for people to sacrifice the extra thickness and wear layer.
If you would like to discuss your property and which board would best suit your home please get in contact with us on 01598 740197
About the author
Tom Fanthorpe. Director, JFJ Wood Flooring Ltd
Tom is one half of the father & son team behind JFJ Wood Flooring. An experienced wood flooring specialist with over 7 years in the industry, Tom is following in his father John's footsteps as a true expert in his chosen field. Having absorbed much of John's 35+ years of experience in the joinery and timber trade, Tom now leads the wood flooring department and holds ultimate responsibility for everything from customer service to sales, logistics to quality control.