The demand for wood flooring has increased significantly over the past few years. Today, people and companies want wood flooring in different designs.
Whether it’s laminate flooring or engineered wood flooring, both are good choices for someone who wants something similar to a solid hardwood floor but cheaper to afford. However, both floorings have their advantages and disadvantages, which you must consider before buying either of them
Engineered wood flooring is the artificial combination of layers of hardwood, softwood and possibly wooden remnants typically combined with resins. You can use engineered wood for your subfloor and ceiling.
Laminated wood flooring however is a synthetic flooring fused together with lamination; it may or may not have wooden material components but it usually comprises of melamine resins and fiber board material as it simulates a wood like outlook but when felt, its actual synthetic nature is felt with a protective coating.
In this article, we discussed the benefits and drawbacks of installing laminate flooring and engineered wood flooring. Adding to that, we talked about their differences, their lifespans, and which is more valuable for your money to help you decide the right one to buy.
Let’s dive in!
LAMINATE vs ENGINEERED WOOD
Laminate flooring is a man-made flooring material. Its base is fiberboard, and bonded over the top is a photographic image layer. On the surface is a transparent wear layer designed to protect it. The image layer can be printed to resemble many different materials.
But most of them look like wood, and some are designed to look like stone too. It is hard to tell from a distance if laminate flooring is real wood. Recent innovations have made laminate more realistic and with technology, manufacturers can texturise and emboss the surface. However, on a closer look, all that disappears and you can tell this isn’t the real thing.
Engineered wood, on the other hand, is a much realistic replica of solid hardwood because the surface is genuine wood. The only difference is that the whole material is not solid hardwood through and through. Rather what you get is true hardwood that rests on the substrate of quality plywood. This type of make-up gives engineered wood flooring good dimensional stability. In addition, the make-up makes the flooring a more suitable option in certain applications than solid hardwood.
Though laminate flooring isn’t a perfect replica for real hardwood, the more quality ones have a more realistic feel. This is because they have a richer, deeper embossing of simulated wood grain and have convinced many buyers.
For engineered wood, it’s obvious. Their surface feels real because they are made with real hardwood.
Well, both floorings come in hundreds of different colours and styles, which can be overwhelming. If you’re going to pick one for your home, you should choose the flooring that matches your design needs. However, we believe when it comes to appearance, nothing beats the real thing. Our choice for the best appearance is Engineered wood.
WATER AND HEAT RESISTANCE
Though some types of laminate flooring are advertised as “water-resistant”, they can get damaged pretty quick once water gets to the flooring’s fiberboard. In between the board are cracks that water can penetrate.
When this happens, damage to the flooring is inevitable. Though the ones with plastic surfaces can’t absorb water, they can last longer if the moisture is mopped up completely.
As for engineered wood floorings, they have a tough, waterproof surface sealer. But since the surface and base is made of wood, both can swell and warp if they get wet.
Best for water and heat:
Both floorings are bad choices for humid, damp locations. But they perform better in this situation than solid hardwood. That said, even if you clean the surfaces of either laminate or engineered flooring, cracks can still allow moisture to penetrate to their organic parts, causing them to swell or develop mould. However, both floorings have good resistance to heat and sunlight.
DURABILITY AND MAINTENANCE
Of the two floorings, laminate is easier to maintain because the surface layer is plastic and it’s easy to wipe the moisture off of it. But they aren’t durable because they can’t be refinished; meaning when they are badly damaged, you will need to replace them completely.
Engineered woods, however, last longer than laminate. You can sander and refinish at least once. For thicker layers, you repeat this process twice or thrice.
Best for durability and maintenance:
Maintaining both floorings is easy. Though laminate is easier to clean. As for durability, engineered wood wins this one. They can be refinished because it is made up of real wood.
Out of both flooring, laminate is the easiest to install, which makes it a favourite for people who like to do things themselves (DIYers). The planks come with unique click-locks in which the edges of the planks interlock and hang over a layer of foam underlayment spread over the subfloor.
Engineered wood flooring, however, isn’t that easy to install. They require professional hands. This flooring is often installed the same way professionals install solid hardwood floors. This installation is done by blind-nailing the wood to the subfloor with finished nails or staples driven at an angle through the tongue along the edge of the boards. For concrete subfloors, glue is used to hold the wood to the floor.
Best for installation:
Since laminate floors are easier to install than engineered wood floors, we pick them as the best for installation. Though, you can still install some forms of engineered wood flooring.
Since it’s easier to maintain and doesn’t require real wood or cutting logs, laminate flooring is more affordable than Engineered wood floorings. You can purchase a square foot of laminate flooring for as low as $1. More premium designs cost between $10 to $12 per square foot.
For engineered wood flooring, the price per square foot starts at around $4.50, but the average price is around $8. But that’s not all. Since engineered wood flooring requires professional hands, the cost can rise to $15 to $20 per square foot. With laminate, however, the cost of installation depends on whether you would love to install it yourself or call in a professional.
Best for cost:
Because laminate is inexpensive to buy and the installation costs zero (for DIYers), it is the best for you if you’re on a budget. Otherwise, you can get the costlier engineered wood flooring.
Depending on the quality of the material, laminate flooring can last up to 10 to 20 years. Also, how much wear the laminate receives throughout use can determine how long it will last.
As for engineered wood, they are more durable and can last up to 30 years on your floor and even longer.
Best for lifespan:
The ultimate winner of this category is engineered wood flooring. With a lifespan of 30 years and more, you get great value for your money. Plus, you can sand and refinish it up to three times to keep the surface looking more furnished.
Laminate floorings have varying widths that are usually between 3 to 7 inches. But their length stretches as long as 48 inches.
Engineered wood floorings, on the other hand, can have widths as narrow as 2 ¼ inches or as wide apart as 7 inches. Their lengths also vary too. Some stretch up to 36 inches long, while others can reach 48 inches
Best for sizes:
There is no better or best in this category. Both have similar lengths and widths.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING
Engineered wood floorings offer plenty of advantages such as durability, fewer maintenance requirements, and high resistance to warping and bowing. However, the flooring has its drawbacks too. We have discussed some of them below;
- Engineered wood floorings are susceptible to fading, especially when exposed to prolonged sunlight. But you can reduce the chances of your fading by using drapes and blinds.
- Engineered wood floorings are susceptible to dent and pet scratches.
- Engineered wood floorings have a low moisture resistance. They can soak up moisture, which can lead to mould fungi growth. This fungus attacks the structure of the wood causing it to shift and buckle under slight pressure.
- Engineered wood floorings are expensive to buy and install.
- Because different manufacturers design their own engineered wood floorings, each of them has its specifications. This means the quality will differ as some will produce low-quality flooring, while others may make high-quality ones.