Laminate vs Engineered
Both laminate and engineered wood flooring have their good and bad points. This article has been written to highlight the main differences between what appear on first sight to be very similar products, to help you choose the right one for your flooring needs.
The basic difference between laminate and engineered wood is that with laminate you can expect a strengthened core of melamine resin or solid fibreboard with a veneer of a decorative layer of wood image, which is then covered by a skin of see-through protection.
Engineered wood is made up of various layers of real wood with the outer layer being whatever is specified, such as oak, cherry or teak. The inner tiers of engineered wood can comprise of hardwood (not necessarily the same wood as on top), plywood or fibreboard. These strengthened layers make engineered wood flooring less expensive, more robust and long lasting that floors made from 100% hardwood.
It is generally recognised that laminate flooring, pound for pound per square metre is less costly than engineered wood, but in truth this will very much depend upon the quality of laminate/engineered wood selected, and whether you are attempting to lay it yourself or call in the professionals.
However, a warning to the buyer who would rush in and purchase engineered wood at too-good-to-be-true prices. It may well be that the cost has been driven down by the application of a uselessly thin top veneer that will crack and split through time to allow moisture into the body of the boards, which will ruin the floor from the inside out.
Before making these decisions, know that in either case the installation of new flooring across the home will tend to be a major household expense and whether you prefer to factor in an installation cost to your budget depends almost entirely on your confidence in your own wood-laying abilities.
In general terms although it will probably be less expensive and frustrating in the long run to hire an expert wooden flooring specialist. If you have always wanted to try your hand at floor laying then go with a laminate, which is easier to work with and less expensive if you get it wrong. However, if you just want a good quality floor professionally laid then you would be wise to hire a good flooring company.
The Pros of Laminate Flooring
- Less expensive.
- Easier to lay if doing it yourself.
- Can be safely used in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas of the home which attract moisture.
The Pros of Engineered Flooring
- Long lifespan: a well laid engineered wood flooring can last for 20 years.
- Engineered wood can be finished with stain or varnish solutions.
- Low maintenance.
The Cons of Laminate Flooring
- Shorter life span.
- Cannot accept varnish or stain.
- Tendency to fade through time.
The Cons of Engineered Flooring
- Too thin a veneer will ruin the entire floor very quickly.
- Can quickly warp if used in a habitually wet shower room.
- Poor quality wood will result in premature warping and fading.
It’s Your choice
As with all things there are good and bad points to both laminate and engineered flooring. Generally speaking, a good quality laminate in a family home with normal usage can be expected to last anything between 5 – 8 years before being replaced. When choosing laminate be very sure to choose the colour of veneer you won’t mind living with for that period of time, as laminate cannot be refinished or the colour changed.
Select high quality engineered wood and you can refinish it several times over its lifespan with no detrimental effects. Whilst easier to lay than 100% hardwoods, engineered wood can also go wrong so if you have no floor laying experience. So if carpentry is a foreign word to you, best advice would be to play safe and hire a professional floor sanding company to do the job for you.