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For starters, I hope you 'tested' out the floor for moisture. If you didn't come back w/a reply.
Assuming you did, as you already know, Engineered Flooring (EF) can come in a number of forms. So, the answer is: It depends.
If you want to be able to refinish your floor, then the TOPMOST layer should be the 'thickest'. Find out from either the paperwork or the Mfgr. if you can refinish your particular flooring. I wouldn't trust the salesman. (Sorry. I can't stand it someone who's 'ignorant' in a particular 'field' gets a thumbs-up. Too many times, the Customer is 'mis-led'. Anyways, ...)
If you don't care about the floor in that when it gets 'worn out' and you want to just throw it away, then go w/the number of plys.
Now, the THICKNESS of the EF can be both. It can have 3 laminated layers and a finished layer that can be refinished. If this is the case, I'm sure you'll find it to be the THICKEST of everything you've looked at. Hence, a higher price to.
Soooo, it depends on what you want. Be forewarned - If this floor, or anything in this job, is GLUED to the concrete where later on you might want to 'change' your taste in flooring, you'll never get the stuff off. You'll most likely end up w/carpeting. What I'm saying is that you'll never get the glue 'residue' so that the floor is 'flat' again. AND, good luck trying to get 1 glue to 'stick' to another one.
As for the padding, I don't like it. It makes the floor sound 'hollow' when you walk on it. You also get a 'squishy feel' under your feet because the padding is giving-out when you walk on it. It's tough to decide what to install over concrete. (I know you're stuck w/it but that's why I stayed away from it when it came for us to buy a home. I have a basement so it's not an 'issue'.) You didn't ask but if I were you, which I'm not, but if I were, I'd just get the BEST padding I can buy with a nice carpet, and be done w/it. It would probably cost the same as a hardwood or EF type-of-floor. But you're right - It's not my home and I can't see it from here.
I wish you well. My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
The thickness of the flooring does matter (the thicker the better unless you have height problems), but the number of ply layers, itself, does not say much about the quality of material. The layers of plys are used in part to cut costs (so they do not use top-quality wood on all layers), and in part to run the wood grains in different directions so that the floor does not warp. After you have a three or four layers, I doubt more layers will make a difference. Also, the quality of materials used in those layers matters more than the number of layers. Lots of cheap-quality layers does not beat a few good-quality layers.
Glueing the wood floor to the concrete is the most popular way to install a wood floor on concrete, but the floor still ends up being almost as hard as the concrete underneath it.
"Floating" the floor on a foam pad over the concrete is an option that (1) is not so permanent and (2) provides some cushioning. However, it tends to produce a cheap, "clicky" sound when walked upon with hard-soled shoes: not exactly high-class construction. The "Pergo" denser foam-rubber rolls are supposed to be better, but I do not trust them.
I, too, have a concrete slab on which I plan to install wood floors in the next few weeks, myself. (Sorry, Jay, carpet is not at all a desired option for all of us). After exhaustively researching the issue, I plan to nail a subfloor of 3/4 inch plywood down, then roll out a layer of 30-pound builders felt. They will cusion the hardness of the concrete subfloor a bit. I might also add an underlayer of thin sleepers (flat slats spread out to simulate floor joists) to add to the cushion. The plywood also will allow me to nail down the wood floor, which is still the best method, no matter what promotional materials or salesmen might tell you.
Doing so will make the floor about 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches taller than if I glued it down, and it will take more time, but it will be well worth it. Hope that helps.
[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited August 12, 2001).]