People are often confused about the difference between engineered wood compared to laminate flooring and want to know which one is better as a floor covering.
The main differences
Neither engineered wood nor laminate flooring is solid wood, though they may look like natural wood. Engineered wood has a veneer of natural wood on top of a solid wood core board, which makes engineered flooring look closer to the natural look and feel of wood. It also feels warmer and more natural than laminates.
Laminate flooring has an image of wood printed on an MDF-like core board. A laminate plank has a transparent wear layer on top, then a stabilisation layer just underneath so that it will wear well. The appearance of modern high-quality laminate floors is so close to wood that it is difficult to tell that it is printed unless you examine the floor very closely.
Variations in quality
Like all floor coverings, laminates and engineered wood vary in quality, largely dependent upon their manufacturer and price point. Although all engineered wood has a wood veneer, the thickness of it can vary, and the quality of the a solid wood core board can vary, with some of the cheaper engineered woods having a plywood base.
Laminate flooring ranges from inexpensive 7mm thickness up to 12mm thick ones. Engineered wood flooring ranges from around 13mm to 20mm. Thicker does not necessarily mean better quality, as the quality of the wood is more important in engineered wood than the thickness.
Both engineered wood and laminates are easy to clean. A brush or vacuum cleaner removes dirt and debris and a mop can be used to clean the floors. Cleaning products, brushes and vacuum cleaners must be approved for laminate or engineered flooring use.
If engineered wood floors become worn, they can be lightly sanded and varnished or oiled with approved products to restore them. This can be done a number of times.
If laminate flooring is worn, it may need replacing. If the worn area is limited, planks can be removed and replaced with new ones provided you can find matching laminate. If dents occur, colour-matching putty can be used to fill small holes, but these could still be noticed.
Engineered wood has better water resistance than solid hardwood. If the laminate is installed so that there are no exposed seams, it will be very water resistant, especially an aqua rated laminate flooring, which is suitable for kitchens and bathrooms.
Adding value to the home
If you’re making a decision with a view towards selling your home in the future, engineered wood floors in good condition are generally more likely to do this than laminates, although both can have a positive effect.
Laminate flooring costs less than engineered flooring, but again, be sure to weigh up how much you want to spend against the quality of flooring you’re looking for.
Laminate is quicker to install than engendered wood too, so you will likely pay less for fitting than with engineered flooring.
So which should I choose?
If your budget is restricted, choose laminate, but go for a high quality-one with a realistic wood image.
If you love the look and feel of real hardwood floors, but want a cheaper alternative, choose engineered wood.
Engineered wood may cost more to buy and install, but it should last longer than laminate, so it may be a better long-term investment.
For further information and advice about the qualities of engineered wood and laminate flooring, why not talk to us at Home Style Carpets & Flooring?