Laminate vs Engineered Wood

Laminate vs Engineered Wood

Engineered wood vs laminate

Are you struggling to choose between engineered wood and laminate? We don’t blame you; they’re both amazing options for pretty much every space in the house! But if you’re looking for a way to decide, this guide is for you. We’ll explain the similarities and differences, and pros and cons, of each type of flooring.

Engineered wood flooring vs laminate: everything you need to know

What’s the main difference between laminate flooring and engineered wood flooring? You can get all the facts in our ‘What is laminate’ and ‘Engineered wood flooring’ guides, but here’s the gist:

  • Laminate flooring is composed of different layers of wood-based materials, with a printed image of the flooring pattern or style covered by a hardy topcoat to protect it from damage.
  • Engineered wood is somewhat “in-between” real wood flooring and laminate flooring. It’s also made up of layers, although the top layer is real, solid wood, while the bottom layer is generally plywood.

Although superficially similar, engineered wood and laminate differ in several key areas:

Durability

Engineered wood lasts longer than laminate flooring, with an expected lifespan of upwards of 35 years when properly cared for and maintained. To find out more about how to look after engineered wood, take a look at our engineered wood care guide. The expected lifespan of laminate flooring tends to be between 10 and 20 years depending on which type you buy, but it can last for much longer when properly cared for, which we explain in our laminate floor care guide.

Maintenance

Engineered wood’s brand-new appearance can be restored by sanding and refinishing, so you’ll have options in years to come should you wish to remove stains or scratches or simply achieve a new look with a different finish or wood stain. This can usually be done up to two or three times. Sanding and refinishing are not possible for laminate.

However, engineered wood is more vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity, and may need regular waxing depending on the finish. This isn’t necessary with laminate. Laminate flooring requires just a quick sweep and the occasional wipe with a wrung-out, barely-damp mop to stay looking its best.

Installation

Both types of flooring can come in ‘click profiles’, which essentially means that they can be installed in the same way, by slotting pieces together like a jigsaw to ‘float’ on top of an existing floor.

Style

Laminate flooring boasts incredibly realistic finishes and textures, to give the appearance of a real wood floor, but the style you see is a printed graphic. This allows for a huge variety of different styles and colours to choose from, spanning everything from classic oak laminate flooring to grey herringbone laminate flooring. Meanwhile, engineered wood is a little more limited in style as it is restricted to the types of wood species available; however, you can stain and polish wood to create a new finish should you choose. 

Which is cheaper: laminate or engineered wood?

Of course, we understand that sometimes the final factor in choosing either laminate or engineered wood flooring can be the cost. Laminate flooring’s ability to offer the look of wood without the price is a key element of its appeal, and in general engineered wood will cost more per square metre. But both options are generally cheaper than real hardwood, stone or tiled flooring and represent very good value for money.

Fitting charges should also be factored in, although, for anyone brave enough to give it a try, you can always fit your own laminate (and engineered wood since it uses similar principles) using our 'How to fit laminate flooring' guide.

Laminate vs engineered wood

If you’re still struggling to choose between laminate and engineered wood, try to pinpoint your priorities.

Choose engineered wood if…

  • You want the fantastic look and feel of a wooden floor to complement your room.
  • You want to make a long-term investment in a highly durable floor: engineered wood floors can look great for thirty years or even longer.
  • You want to add value to your home: according to estate agents, engineered wood floors can add up to 1-10% to the value of a property.
  • You care about the environment and want a more sustainable floor. Because the lower layers of each board are made of fast-growing, rapidly renewed plywood, less slow-growing hardwood is required.
     

Choose laminate flooring if…

  • You want a realistic replica of a hardwood floor without the cost or installation challenges of the real thing.
  • You want a natural-looking floor that’s more resistant to changes in temperature and humidity. All wood and wood-look flooring can be damaged by moisture, but laminate flooring offers some heat and water-resistant options.
  • You want flooring with a hygienic non-porous top coat, which delays the growth of up to 99% of the most frequent bacteria. (Note, it’s still important to clean laminate flooring regularly or the antibacterial top coat could be compromised.)
  • You want flooring that is low maintenance and easy to clean with just the swipe of a slightly damp mop.
  • You want easy-to-fit flooring. Laminate flooring clicks together so quickly and easily you may even consider doing it yourself.

 

Still unsure whether laminate or engineered wood is right for you? Why not book a free home visit and talk it through with one of our Floorologists? They’ll bring along a selection of samples to help you decide. Or if you’ve made up your mind to purchase engineered wood or laminate flooring, visit your local Tapi store today.

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