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what is it?

engineered wood wear layer

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 1mm 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.

But what’s the best wear layer on engineered wood flooring? Read on to find out more.

wear layer

How long does it 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 your floor as this will help keep it looking its best. It’s especially important you keep this in mind if you are laying the floor into a busy room in your house. In time, the finish will wear 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 durable finish and also a finish that is easily cleaned, maintained and replenished. It is a quality product that we, and the 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 usually 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.

The surface you’re laying your floorboard onto (the subfloor) may also play a part in what thickness of flooring you require. For example, if you were spanning joists your flooring would need to be structural and therefore anything thinner than 20mm thick engineered oak would not be suitable. You’re likely to find that 20mm or 21mm thick flooring is supplied with at least a 4mm wear layer, usually 6mm. 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. There may also be a preferable overall thickness to choose due to heights in your property. 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 treated with a quality finish and looked after properly. Some will argue that the difference in cost is negligible and would sooner purchase the highest quality board available and others will argue than a thinner wear layer is more than adequate and not necessary to spend the extra money.


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. We’re a family business and always more than happy to discuss your specific requirements.

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 a decade 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.