3 Critical Steps to Ensuring Engineered Floors Succeed
We sat down with Steve Lamoureux, Lead of Engineering at Carlisle Wide Plank Floors, to understand the steps required to make an Engineered floor the right way – and why it matters.
Step One: The Veneer Cutting Process
P: The veneer cutting process is the first step in the preparation of raw material for an engineered flooring plank. This “veneer” forms the wear layer, which is the top surface of the plank that is visible to the naked eye.
Unlike other flooring manufacturers who may skip the initial step, we take the time to mill our rough stock to a smooth surface on all four sides before going on to the next stage. As Steve explained, “Some would ask, why does this add quality to the product? In my eyes, the answer is simple: the more uniform the raw material is going into our saws, the more uniform the veneers will be when coming out.”
Another advantage at Carlisle is our on-site capacity to sharpen the saw blades used in the veneer production process. Those involved in grinding and sharpening them develop a deeper understanding of how the quality of a blade directly affects the veneer. Consequently, our craftsmen are cross-trained to operate both the saws producing the veneers as well as the grinder used to sharpen the blades.
Lastly, to ensure that we produce the most uniform veneers possible, we measure every lineal foot with Vernier calipers. Our quality standards allow for no deviation greater than 0.51 mm in the wear layer and this checkpoint ensures that no floor outside those parameters will ever make it to one of our customers.
Step Two: The Laminating Line
The laminating line is the phase in the production process where the veneer is glued to the plywood substrate (or underside) of the plank.
Everything here begins with the Baltic Birch plywood, which is manufactured with an exterior grade glue, giving the rugged base of our engineered floors an extremely low failure rate (from delamination, for example). Additionally, it is more likely to resist movement following installation, such as cupping and crowning.
The Baltic Birch plywood is also held to a precise thickness tolerance, ensuring that pressure is evenly applied across the entire face of the board during the gluing process. This creates a stronger bond between the actual wear layer and the substrate.
Because our press is set up in a linear-feed configuration, we are able to concentrate on one lineal inch of adhesion at a time, versus other systems designed to make multiple planks simultaneously. Those other systems are typically designed for mass production, which may lead to higher failure rates.
Step Three: The Adhesive
In addition to the veneer cutting process and the Baltic Birch plywood, the adhesive is another critical factor in the success of our engineered floors. At Carlisle, we use a polyurethane resin glue that spreads smoothly and bonds almost immediately. Its adherence is so great that it’s impossible to separate the veneer from the core with a hammer and chisel when fresh off the line. This product takes seven days for a full cure but is clearly worth the wait.
Why It Matters to Steve
“I believe that if we’re not making something of higher quality, that it’s not worth making. I enjoy doing my part to deliver a work of art to each and every customer that chooses our product. I strive to teach this work ethic to the next generation of workers, as I feel it’s important to maintain consistency from craftsman to craftsman.”
At Carlisle, we are proud to have someone as passionate, skilled and committed as Steve, and to call him one of our craftsmen.