Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drying Engineered Flooring

Restorers faced with drying wet engineered flooring have a difficult task.  The top finish layer is part of the problem as it usually has many coats of aluminum oxide giving it a very low permeance factor.  So almost no water reaches the thin layer of “real hardwood” except around the edges of the board.  Most of the moisture penetrates the sub-surface/back of the flooring that is typically plywood.  There are usually a number of layers of materials and under normal conditions, the flooring is very stable, even more stable than solid hardwood planking.  However, when wet, the problems start.  First there is often a distortion around the edges of the veneer which sometimes causes stress cracks in the finish.  Further, the underlayment often a synthetic pad with vapor barrier found beneath is difficult to dry out.  If the water goes to the edge of the flooring and only penetrates a few inches to a few feet and the surface finish survives, it is possible to sometimes “float” the already floating floor.  “Floating” in the sense that it is often not glued or nailed to the substrate but is instead held by being interlocked together.  Success rate will improve if the surface is already a “distressed” finish such as a hand-scraped.