What’s best 1 Strip or 3 strip engineered wood flooring

Choosing an engineered wood floor can be daunting! I get asked questions on a daily basis and one question that pops up all the time is this..What’s best, one strip or three strip engineered wood flooring? It really isn’t good enough to simply say one over the other without an explanation, so read on and find out from someone that’s been installing the stuff for over fifteen years. I promise you’ll find some quality information..

Firstly, let’s make this clear. This isn’t a technical question in the slightest. Both types of engineered flooring will perform equally when installed in a house with a stable climate.

The question really boils down to the visual appearance of either type of floor. With that, I think it’s important to show and explain the difference for those that are completely new to choosing an engineered floor.

One Strip

Here you can see the wood grain running straight across the full face of the plank.

One strip refers to the top surface layer of the floor being a full cut section of wood from a tree. One beautiful grain structure running through the face of each plank. No breaks, no changes in grain or features.

With these type of engineered floors, there is little obvious difference between a solid wood floor once installed.

Providing there is a decent thickness of wear layer, they can also be sanded nearly as many times as a solid wood floor.

Three Strip

Three strip refers to the top surface of the floor being constructed using multiple smaller cuts of wood from a tree and placed together to make a single plank. These types of engineered floors characteristically look busy, with often nine and upwards different strips of wood per plank.

Here you can see the different smaller blocks noted with the change in direction of the wood grain.

The strips are designed to give a parquet (block wood) feel, however, traditionally parquet floors would be set in a geometric pattern rather that all pointing in the same direction. Thus, the modern three strip can look very much like a laminate floor.

The smaller strips also allow the manufacturers the ability to be less picky with their choices when constructing the three strip. It’s also fair to point out that the smaller blocks can mean less waste when it comes to construction, with off cuts being utilized more efficiently.

Again, providing there is a decent thickness of wear layer, they can also be sanded nearly as many times as a solid wood floor.


So Which Is Best?

Well, you may have sensed my slight bias in the descriptions above, but there’s more to be said on this topic which requires a little more explanation first.

When the blocks are attached to the ply board core (the ply board can be seen as the pale/light wood in the pictures above), they are all glued as raw wood. When the adhesive has set, the planks are then evenly sanded to bring all the blocks to the same level and finally they have a stain/oil and/or lacquer applied. Where am I going with this? Stick with me!

Now, when each plank is fitted to the next (In rows) to make up the floor, there is naturally a joint between each plank. Over time, this joint will trap dirt from foot traffic. However, the joint between each singular block will not. This is due to the surface coating of lacquer/stain etc effectively encasing the joints and preventing dirt from grabbing in them. Now give this type of floor six months of good use and you will have a nice engineered wood floor that looks like a cheap three block laminate floor!!! I’ve seen this happen time and time again.

Ok, so how does this compare with a one strip engineered floor? Well, yes you’ll still get dirt that grabs in the joints between each plank. This is a natural occurrence and should be expected to some degree,until it’s first sand and re-lacquer anyway, which can be years down the line. However, the floor will still look natural as the grain runs across the full width of the planks, with no internal joins like the three strip. Therefore, leaving you with a wood floor that will actually mature! Not start to cosmetically degrade into looking like a cheaper floor, but will become enhanced and defined over time.


My point is simple and pulls no punches with little need to digress. Three strip will look like a laminate and one strip will look like a natural solid wood floor. To spell it out, one strip engineered flooring is by far the best and should be your number one consideration when deciding on what type of engineered floor to go for.

Although, this is simply my opinion and one I stand by from the experience I have.

© Copyright 2013 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor

I am a Pergo trained professional installer of 20 years. I've been up close and personal with lots of floors and have the knobbly knees to show for it...Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below. Thanks for taking the time to call by and I hope the information you've found has given you some insight!........................................................................................................................................................................“When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in the site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it, amazon.ca, affiliate window network.” This statement is to comply with current internet regulations regarding transparency to consumers.

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