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Wear layer - All you need to know

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 of 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 which in the case of solid would be the tongue and groove. 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. 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 anything thinner than our 21mm Supreme range 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.

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.

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Submitted by julie (not verified) on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 15:44

Hello, I wonder if anyone can help! I live in a first floor flat in an old listed building and have recently had 18mm ply laid over my whole floor, over the old floorboards, this was needed in order to level the floor in order to lay a new wood floor over the top. (the floor was soooo uneven!!) my question now is, the flat is open plan, that is, the kitchen/dining/living is all open and at the same level. I have read somewhere that engineered wood is better than solid for use in kitchens, because of possible water escape. The kitchen will only have the sink (the washing machine going elsewhere.) I have looked at engineered wood and see that it is basically a 3/4mm 'wear layer' ie solid wood and then plywood or hdf core. Now, because I already have an 18mm layer of plywood, could I use one of the 11mm solid woods over this or would I still have a problem in case of water escape? what do you experts think? If you do recommend engineered flooring, is the type with the HDF core ok for kitchen areas? any advice or recommendations would be gratefully received!! many thanks in advance, Julie

Submitted by jfjadmin on Fri, 03/07/2020 - 08:22

Hi Julie,

Thank you for your comment. I will also email you this reply to ensure that you get it.

A high spec engineered oak floor (not all engineered oak flooring is equal) will be much more stable and reliable and for this reason is favoured for a kitchen area. The reason for this is that a high spec engineered oak floor will be based on a multi-laminate plywood which significantly reduces the chances of the floor expanding and contracting. I would recommend an engineered oak board no thinner than 14mm. Anything less than this and you have too smaller wear layer of oak on the top surface and are also unlikely to find many flooring options thinner than 14mm which have a high quality multi-laminate plywood core as mentioned above. I would recommend that you take a look at our 14mm thick 'Country' engineered oak range or 'Classic' 15mm thick engineered oak range. I would also highly recommend considering a finish such as Treatex Hardwax oil as it's the finish that makes the flooring water and stain resistant on its surface.

Your other alternative, should you wish to keep the heights lower, is our LVT Wood Plastic Composite flooring range. This is 6.5mm thick, extremely durable, affordable, practical and very easy to lay.

I hope this helps. Please do not hesitate to give me a call on 01598 740197 should you have any further questions or wish to discuss these points in further detail. We're a family business and always happy to help.

Many thanks,


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