Engineered Wood - Do you really have to consider this?
Updated: May 28, 2018
When I went house shopping with my wife the first thing I did was go into the basement. No engineered wood? No sale.
Before there is any confusion we're talking about floor joists and not engineered hardwood floors. Carry on.
It amazes me that this conversation still has to take place. OK, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. I understand that there are different levels of housing, in terms of price point, and builders need to find areas to save to ensure they make their homes affordable while still making a profit. So to those builders making budget friendly starter homes or affordable housing - give er. To the rest of you - seriously?
The number of homes I have gone into that would be considered mid-level in price (1900 sqft to 2700 sqft) that didn't used engineered wood astounds me. There were granite counter tops, upgraded appliances, hardwood floors and some serious accessories but the structure itself was 2x10 joists and chip board.
“... to those builders making budget friendly starter homes or affordable housing - give er. To the rest of you - seriously?”
Why they are so good
So what makes Engineered Joists so good? The quick answer is stability and consistency but I will elaborate. Wood products have a crown. If you are not familiar with this term, it means that the lumber will have a bow in it that runs the length of the board. Good framers will make sure that the bow is on the top side of the joist for both consistency as well as strength but regardless your floor is now...bowed. Secondly, dimensional lumber despite being kiln dried is still susceptible to shrinking, twisting and cracking. This usually even happens before the product is installed but I doubt the installer is being particular enough to lay those pieces to the side - they'll make them work. Engineered Joists are straight, stable and strong. You get a flat floor that doesn't twist, bow or swell....period. They are also usually designed by technical staff whose mandate it is to reduce the amount of vibration in the floor in order to dampen any noise. OWL Distribution has a staff consisting of six of these individuals.
Does it cost more money? Absolutely but if you are purchasing a home like the one I described above I would expect that quality should be paramount and the accessories secondary. Perhaps we've gotten our priorities misconstrued. Perhaps the builders are just trying to find a way to pocket more money but that a cynical thought. Regardless the reason, I still go into the basement first before I judge the quality of a build. A Ferrari with the engine of a Gremlin under the hood is just a really good looking slow car.