Laminate Vs. Engineered Wood Flooring: Which is Best For Your Project?
Is Engineered Wood Fake Wood?
Engineered flooring is anything but fake. In fact, engineered flooring is some of the toughest, longest lasting wood flooring on the market. There are several benefits to this type of floor and when it comes to pre-finished engineered flooring, you have thousands of options. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming so below we will go over some things to consider.
When looking over the vast selection of engineered flooring, one of the first things you will want to find out is if the flooring you are interested in is an import product or domestically made. Import products tend to be cheaper due to lower cost of labor by they are also prone to more manufacturing defects as import floors usually come from places that have fewer manufacturing guidelines than we do here in the good ole USA. Imported flooring are also notorious for using inferior materials in the construction of their flooring too. American made floors, while at times a little more expensive, tend to be far superior. The manufacturing guidelines that mills must follow ensure a consistent floor and good manufactures only use the highest quality materials in producing their flooring.
Layers: Core and Bottom
Another thing to research when looking at engineered flooring is how the “Core,” or base layer of the floor is made. Some manufactures use a soft wood core and others use a hardwood core. The core of an engineered floor gives it its stability. Have you ever stepped on a floor, and it feels like there is a hole in it or look across the room to see small peaks and valleys – kind of a rolling wave look? These imperfections are typically from an inferior core which more times than not are a soft wood core. You want an engineered floor with a hardwood core. In fact, you want a hardwood to core whose layers run in alternating directions to minimize movement. These quality engineered floors can be hard to find, but retailers like The Hardwood Center have several options to choose from.
Just like the material that makes up the core of an engineered floor, the material that makes up the bottom layer is important too. Some manufacturers have a nice hardwood top layer, with a soft wood core and the have a different species of wood all together on the bottom layer which all together leads to an inferior floor with potential issues. Look for an engineered floor that uses the same species of wood for the bottom layer that is used for the top layer. The purpose of this type of construction is to make sure that if there is any movement, the entire board moves together rather than against itself thus being much more stable. An engineered floor with the same species of wood on the top and bottom lay that also has a hardwood core is the best way to go for your new pre-finished floors. Again, this type of flooring is not found in every retailer’s shop.
You will also want to consider the length of board that comes in a box of flooring. Many import products and lower end domestic products have short board averages in their boxes of flooring with some even having a uniform length in their boxes. This gives the floor a choppy or tiled look. In today’s open floor plan homes, random length boards with long averages make for a beautiful floor that you will be pleased with for years to come. T
The engineered flooring that you can get from Luxury Wood NYC has a 6-foot piece of flooring in every box (which is rare) plus a nice variance of random length boards to round out every box.
Engineered and Laminate: Are They the Same?
People make the mistake all the time in assuming that Laminate Flooring and Engineered Flooring are the same thing. That is like saying an apple and an orange are the same thing! Other than both being a type of flooring, that is where the similarities stop. If you are trying to decide between the two types of flooring, here is a little Flooring 101 for you when it comes to Laminate & Engineered floors.
Engineered flooring is a product made from natural wood layered and bonded together with a solid wood top layer. The best engineered flooring products are domestically made with a hardwood core whose layers run in alternating directions to minimize movement. Having the same species of wood on the bottom layer as the top also allows the floor to move together against itself if there is ever any movement. This simply makes the floor much more stable.
Laminate flooring is a synthetic product that fuses varied layers of manufactured material together using a lamination process. An image is placed on the top layer to resemble a real wood floor or any other material the manufacture wants to resemble. An underlayment or padding must be placed under a laminate floor prior to installing the floor.
Cost is certainly a key factor when building or remodeling a home and your flooring choice can have a significant impact on the budget. When considering what type flooring to use in your project consider both the cost today but also what your costs may look like over time. While on the surface laminate flooring appears to be much cheaper than engineered flooring, that is not always the case. True, you can find laminate flooring for a couple of dollars per square foot, however, to get that “real wood” look you must spend at least twice that amount. At those price points, you are in the range of some high-quality engineered hardwood flooring. Not to mention you must factor in the additional cost of the padding when looking at laminate flooring.
Let us talk longevity as there is a cost associated with this as well. This is one of those long-term costs I was referring to just a minute ago. While both laminate flooring and engineered wood flooring will last a long time, the life expectance of a laminate floor is about 20 years with a quality engineered wood floor lasting up to 75 years. Some manufactures of engineered wood floors even offer 50-year warranties. Another thing to consider when thinking about longevity is how the floor will wear. When an engineered wood floor starts to show wear, you can sand down the top layer and re-stain the floor. Depending on the wear layer, you may be able to do this a couple of times. When a laminate floor shows wear, there really is not a whole lot you can do about it unfortunately.
Both floors are easy to install. They take about the same amount of time to install, and the skill level needed to do the job is comparable. Both floors are easy to clean with a regular light mopping typically all that is needed on an ongoing basis. With laminate floors, since they are not wood, you can be a bit more liberal with your water use. Other than that, the floors are like maintain outside the wear issue mentioned above.
Laminate flooring certainly serves a purpose and has a place in the flooring world. Many times, a laminate floor will be exactly what the job and budget call for and will provide satisfaction and enjoyment for the homeowner. If visually the real wood look is what you are going for plus the real wood feel, value and longevity is important to you, then engineered flooring is the only way to go when considering a laminate floor vs an engineered wood floor.