Laminate vs engineered hardwood flooring, which is better for your home renovation?
While both materials offer that lovely wood-look floor, there’s a list of differences between the two you should consider when making a decision. In today’s article, I will compare the two in great detail.
I will also lay out all the crucial pros and cons that you should know. So, read below to determine which wood-look floor is the right choice for your home. Which one is stronger and easier to maintain?
That being said, let’s begin and learn everything you need to know to make your choice.
Is Engineered Wood Better Than Laminate?
Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages. Laminate is cheaper, available in many colors and patterns, easy to install, and makes a perfect choice for households with kids and animals.
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Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand, is a bit more expensive, resembles solid hardwoods, lasts for up to 80 years with regular maintenance, easy to maintain, and increases home value.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a budget-friendly alternative to real wood. However, it’s a durable material with a highly realistic layer that resembles wood planks and other materials like metal or stone.
Under this layer, there’s a core of particleboard made from heat-pressed wood fibers. The laminate was the pioneer for naturalistic wood-like floorings in the ‘70s. Other types of flooring have hopped the train and have started producing and releasing their own naturalistic wood looks in the market.
Still, laminate appears and feels like real hardwood and remains a popular flooring choice among people because of the durable, scratch-resistant resistance and low-maintenance cleaning routine.
Layers Of Laminate Flooring
This layer protects your floor from dents, scratches, and staining, and also ensures the water resistance required for liquid spills. It’s usually embossed with a texture.
“Embossed in register”, many laminates have their textures synchronized with the image layer to give a realistic wood-look floor. Now, moving on to the second layer.
This layer features the print or pattern, giving the laminate a wood-like appearance. It can include more natural-looking and rougher scrapes, and knots just like the real deal.
The core layer provides stability and durability. It’s usually created from HDF also known as compressed medium-density fiberboard. And it’s water-resistant but not waterproof.
Last but not least is the backbone of laminate planks, the backing layer. It helps provide stability for your floor and helps to prevent water from entering the flooring from underneath.
Pros Of Laminate Flooring
Surprisingly, the laminate floor is almost as strong as engineered hardwood. And thanks to its durability, it’s a popular choice for homes with children and animals and high-traffic places.
The best part about laminate flooring is the durable wear layer that prevents wear, dents, scratches, and staining. There’s no such thing as a 100% scratch-resistant wood floor but laminate is somewhat scratch-resistant. Therefore, it’s the perfect choice for homes with children and animals.
Naturalistic Stone And Wood Appearance
These planks usually feature synchronized embossing that complements the image coat that further imitates a genuine hardwood appearance. It can also have the feel and appearance of embossed wood, distressed hardwood, hand-scraped hardwood, or come in either smooth or textured surfaces.
Laminate isn’t as resistant to remaining water as some other wood-look floors, however, it’s somewhat water-resistant. It packs groove systems, a tight-locking tongue, thick backing layers, and advanced core materials that bans water from the core, so the laminate has water-resistant capabilities.
Cleaning Is A Breeze
Homeowners love laminate flooring because it’s easy to clean and care for. All you need is a commercial or homemade laminate floor cleaner and a proper mop that won’t scratch your floor.
Laminate flooring is created as a floating floor. The interlocking design makes a laminate flooring “float” instead of being fastened to the ground underneath. Therefore, it’s super easy to install.
The last and most important advantage for some is the cost of laminate flooring. It’s budget-friendly. So, if you’re looking for a cheap alternative to hardwood floors, look no further than laminate.
Cons Of Laminate Flooring
Not 100% Waterproof
Laminate flooring has water-resistant capabilities. However, it’s not completely waterproof. Meaning, it can’t handle standing pools of water, so it’s prone to water damage.
This floor’s water resistance works from top to bottom, rather than bottom to top like vinyl. If you have moisture problems with your subfloor, you will need a vapor barrier.
Not Suitable For Bathrooms And Basements
Bathrooms and basements are prone to flooding and leaks. Therefore, laminate flooring isn’t suitable for these places. If you opt for laminate flooring for your basement or bathroom, install underlayment and a vapor barrier. Additionally, utilize the glue-down installation method.
Hollow, Empty Noise
If installed the wrong way, these floors can release hollow and empty sounds. Every item comes with a detailed installation guide. And if you’re stressed about installation, you can always hire a contractor. It’s highly recommended to install a good underlayment for a quieter floor.
Not Real Wood
The top image layer of laminate flooring can provide a highly realistic wood-look visual, however, it’s still not genuine wood. So, it won’t provide the exact feel and texture compared to the solid wood veneer of engineered hardwood. If this isn’t a deal-breaker for you, opt for laminate.
You can see this video to know more:
What Is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?
Part man-made materials, part wood floor, engineered hardwood flooring is a mix of both worlds. The genuine wood veneer layer provides the original appearance of naturally occurring planks.
Engineered wood has a slim veneer top layer of solid wood that makes engineered wood just as strong as regular hardwood and delivers the same timeless, classic appearance people appreciate.
Then comes the core of the plank, usually created of layers of high-density fiberboard (HDF) or plywood. These layers have a durable lattice structure in the core because of the perpendicular order.
A combination of adhesive and wax keeps this all together which ensures water resistance compared to solid wood. Now, let’s learn more about the layers, pros, and cons of engineered hardwood.
Layers Of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
The wear/veneer layer of real wood gives your engineered hardwood flooring that unique look. It can be almost any wood species you prefer, often hickory or oak. These layers often reveal the real character of the wood with natural knots and splits.
The HDF and plywood layers provide some moisture resistance, especially if combined with some water-repellent materials such as wax.
If you have a plywood core, the plywood layers create a lattice structure that ensures both stability and durability. The HDF layer is denser than plywood. And it’s a solid, single layer.
The backing is the foundation of your engineered hardwood floor. It’s typically made of HDF or plywood. Now, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of engineered hardwood flooring.
Pros Of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
If you’re a DIY enthusiast or you don’t want to pay money for professional help, no worries. Engineered hardwood flooring is easy to install. You can either install it with glue or loose lay.
Versatility And Variety
You can install engineered hardwood flooring on all levels, providing endless possibilities. Also, there’s a wide selection of surfaces to choose from including wire-brushed, hand-scraped, distressed, and smooth surfaces. You can add a personal touch to the item and complement your décor.
Engineered hardwood flooring is more environmentally friendly and often utilizes up to 70% repurposed wood waste for the backing and core. Meaning, all your recycle-loving buddies will approve.
Cons Of Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Can’t Always Be Refinished
You can refinish solid hardwood but engineered wood features a slim wood veneer on top. Meaning, it’s not always possible to refinish engineered hardwood flooring.
Therefore, always contact the manufacturer before you do anything or follow the instructions. Trying to refinish the engineered wood could cause irreversible damage.
Some people like to know that hardwood is strictly created out of solid wood planks, just like shopping for designer clothing, you want to ensure it’s authentic.
Engineered wood isn’t made out of 100% solid wood. However, you can consider it as a “smart” choice, a genuine hardwood floor that’s more flexible than a solid wood plank.
For certain people, only solid hardwood will do. However, for many, the advantages of engineered wood flooring usually meet their expectations and requirements.
Not Suitable For Basements And Bathrooms
Bathrooms and basements are prone to flooding and leaks. So, the same as laminate floors, engineered hardwood flooring isn’t suitable for these humid areas of your home either.
However, you can install a good underlayment and a vapor barrier and make your engineered hardwood flooring more water-resistant, and utilize the glue-down installation method.
Engineered hardwood flooring is a big investment. Since the surface veneer is genuine hardwood, each plank is unique with original grain and real knots with no pattern repeated like some laminates and since engineered wood appears and looks like solid hardwood, it’s also expensive.
You can see this video to know more:
Laminate Vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring Comparison Chart
Both laminate and engineered hardwood flooring have their pros and cons. Let’s take a last look at both and compare their crucial features side-by-side before I bring a conclusion.
|Look||A variety of colors and patterns||Natural beauty|
|Lifespan||15-25 years with proper care||80 years with proper care|
|Cleaning||Easy to clean homemade cleaners for laminate flooring||Easy to clean with the proper vacuum cleaner and different cleaners|
|Installation||Floating floor, DIY friendly||Glue-down, nail-down, floating, DIY friendly|
|Professional installation costs||$2-$7 per square foot||$3-$10 per square foot|
|Refinishing||Not possible||Possible for some products|
|Water-resistant||Yes but not 100% waterproof||Yes but not 100% waterproof|
|Resale||Increases property value as much as hardwood flooring||High-quality laminate can increase property value|
|Price||$2-$4 per square foot||$4-$7 per square foot|
Laminate Vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Which Is Better?
Man choosing the right wooden floor for his homeNow that you know more about each type of flooring and what’s their composition, let’s make a side-by-side comparison and decide which is better for your home.
Engineered hardwood is preferred because of its natural beauty. However, laminate flooring has come a long way in a variety of prints, constructions, and textures.
Additionally, engineered hardwood resembles real wood floors due to the solid hardwood surface layer. But appearing the same and being the same, isn’t the same.
Laminate flooring doesn’t come in many sizes. Traditional laminate floorboards measure 3-7 inches wide and 48 inches long.
Engineered hardwood floorboards, on the other hand, come with narrow and dense widths. You can get sizes as dense as 7 inches and as narrow as 2 1/4 inches.
Lengths of engineered hardwood floorboards go between 36-48 inches. So, engineered hardwood offers a lot more options.
Laminate is the most affordable option out of all the wood-like alternative flooring options. Therefore, if the cost matters to you, laminate flooring provides quality, budget-friendly alternatives.
Laminate costs $1-$5 per square foot (not installed) but the cost depends on the print layer. Engineered hardwood costs $3-$13 per square foot (not installed) but prices depend on the wood type.
Your laminate flooring can last for up to 15-25 years with proper care and maintenance. Always utilize a vacuum cleaner for laminate flooring and add a good underlayment before installing the floor.
Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand, can last for up to 80 years with regular care. Also, the lifespan depends on the quality of the material. You can also sand the top layer to refinish it and restore the shine of your good old engineered hardwood flooring with high-quality waxes and polishes.
Engineered wood can increase your property value almost as much as hardwood flooring. Installing top-notch laminate flooring, however, can also raise your property’s value.
The laminate’s scratch-resistant wear layer makes this floor a winner in the durability category. It’s also more resistant to moisture. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is prone to wear and tear since it features a genuine wood veneer. However, with good care, they both last for long.
Both laminate and engineered hardwood consist of water-repellant materials such as adhesive and wax. Meaning, they’re water-resistant. However, they’re not 100% waterproof.
Engineered hardwood flooring is harder to maintain than laminate. They’re both relatively easy to clean. But the material of engineered hardwood flooring features more grains and holes that can attract grime, dirt, and debris, whereas laminate is way smoother and easy to wipe clean.
Laminate installation is DIY-friendly. Installing these planks doesn’t require any glue or nailing. It’s a very straightforward interlocking tongue-and-groove mechanism that can be installed in a day. So, if you’re a DIY enthusiast, opt for laminate flooring because engineered wood floors aren’t DIY-friendly.
Pet owners opt for laminate floors because of their scratch-resistant capabilities. The issue with genuine wood is that scratches, smells, and stains from their accidents can be a nightmare to remove.
Any floor will inevitably take damage from feet, furniture, claws, etc. Engineered wood can handle a few rounds of refinishing while laminate can’t be refinished. However, if the veneer is less than 2mm dense, it’s unsuitable for refinishing and needs replacement. Laminate is easy to polish and restore.
They’re both composite products. However, engineered wood has a higher percentage of real materials but reuses fiberboard and plywood. Also, the veneer is cut which makes less waste and sawdust.
Laminate, on the other hand, is LEED-certified and 85% of this flooring is recyclable. Therefore, laminate is a more environmentally-friendly option. If this eco-friendliness matters to you, choose laminate.
You can see this video to know more:
Was This Helpful?
Laminate vs engineered hardwood flooring, what’s your pick? Hopefully, this guide can help you choose what’s suitable for you and your property.
If you’re looking for something cheap, easier to install, and maintain that will last for over 2 decades, opt for laminate flooring. It’s the perfect choice for households with kids and animals.
However, if you’re in the market for something that looks like hardwood, offers better water resistance, and doesn’t cost as much as solid hardwoods, choose engineered hardwood flooring.
If you have first-hand experiences with engineered hardwood or laminate flooring or comments, drop a comment below. Let’s exchange opinions!