Many people don’t understand what the difference is between laminate flooring and engineered wood flooring so we are laying it all out. While many people confuses these two flooring types they are actually vastly different. They do both have benefits and drawbacks but you really can’t compare these floorings because they are apples and oranges.
Engineered wood is a wood flooring product that is man made but uses natural materials. The core layer is made up of many different ply layers and then a layer or veneer or real wood is added to the top. The layer of solid wood on the top is called a few different things including the wear layer, lamella, or top layer. The is solid wood so it really captures the desired look.
Engineered wood has a stability advantage over natural wood flooring because of the way it is created. The multiply layer in the core allows it to resist expansion and contraction better than a solid wood flooring. THis does make it a better candidate for bathrooms, kitchens and climates where the humidity level changes dramatically with the seasons. Also engineered wood flooring can be used with a radiant heating system.
Laminate flooring is actually not a wood product, is is a synthetic man made product. Laminate does have multiple layers like engineered wood. Laminate has been around since the 1970s and was created to compete with vinyl flooring. Laminate generally includes five layers and can look like a variety of different flooring types. The lop layer of laminate is a picture that is pretend and laminated to the flooring.
Laminate flooring is generally considered to be cheaper than engineered wood flooring. You can find cheap laminate products on the market but there are also higher end products that have costs similar to engineered wood. It is also important to consider the lifespan on a flooring product when comparing prices. Engineered wood is likely to outlast laminate flooring by a significant margin. When laminate flooring needs to be replaced you will likely see the overall cost is not lower due to the shorter lifespan. Also laminate flooring needs an underlayment system which you will need to factor into the cost per square foot.
Laminate and engineered wood are both easy to clean products. They both need regular vacuuming and some light mopping. Laminate can be easily damaged by water so you will need to be careful when mopping that you do not get the flooring too wet.
Some engineered wood products can be resanded and refinished which will really increase their lifespan but does add some maintenance costs. Depending on how thick the top veneer is you may be able to get a few resands out of your engineered wood. Laminate flooring cannot be resurfaced and will need to be completely replaced.
Choice and Visual Impact-
When choosing flooring you may be overwhelmed by the options on the market. Both Engineered wood and laminate have a wide variety of options and you should be able to find one you like in both flooring types. The life expectancy of a laminate floor is generally around 20 years at the most. A quality engineered wood flooring is estimated to last up to 75 years. The visual impact of the flooring is also a big factor. If you want a product that looks like real wood then you need to go with engineered wood. Laminate can be beautiful but you will see repeating patterns over the course of your floor because of the limited amount of patterns on the boards.
In the end the choice of laminate over engineered wood comes down to what you are looking for in your flooring.