Engineered wood and laminate are popular human-made flooring materials. Both are obvious choices if you are looking for flooring that looks like solid hardwood but at a more affordable price.
If you are not sure whether you should choose engineered hardwood vs. laminate flooring for your home remodel, here you’ll find all the necessary information that will help you make the right decision. We’ll talk about the advantages and drawbacks of both materials.
Engineered Wood vs. Laminate: Key Differences
Both materials are composites and are made of multiple layers. They are sometimes confused with each other because they can look similar. But despite similar appearances, there are key differences between them.
The engineered wood flooring is typically made of superior quality plywood with a prefinished fine hardwood veneer on the top. It’s a much more convincing replica of solid hardwood that offers the style and unique look of naturally occurring planks. Due to its thin veneer, the prefinished wood flooring can be refinished a few times before that veneer starts wearing down to base plywood layers.
On the other hand, laminate wood flooring is a fully man-made material that consists of several layers. It is made of a thin and pressed wood board that resembles natural wood on the top because of a photographic image layer. There is also a transparent wear layer that is applied to protect the surface. It is not possible to repair laminate flooring in the traditional wood repair sense. So when the top layer of your bathroom or kitchen laminate flooring is damaged or worn out, you can only replace the planks.
Laminate manufacturers use advanced printing processes to create flooring that looks and feels just like hardwood. So you can choose from replicates of many of the most popular wood species, like oak, hickory, and walnut, in a variety of shades. Whether you are looking for white, black, or grey laminate flooring, you are sure to find beautiful options that suit your personal preferences.
Laminate flooring is budget-friendly and durable, so it’s a good option for high-traffic areas or homes with kids and pets. It is known to resist nicks, scratches, and scuffs quite well. If maintained properly, wide plank laminate flooring can last up to 20 years.
Waterproof laminate flooring works better than solid hardwood in humid, damp locations because it’s more resistant to water on the top surface, but it can’t be considered a good choice in these situations. If the sides and the bottom of the flooring get wet, the floor can swell. That’s why you should always wipe up spills immediately.
Laminate flooring is quick and easy to install thanks to its ‘click’ system, and damaged floorboards can easily be replaced. It is more of a DIY go-to material than engineered wood floors. The laminate floor is easy to care for – you can clean it with a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner.
Engineered hardwoods are also available in many shades and styles and provide realistic finishes. Many of the species of traditional hardwoods are used to create the upper layer of the flooring. You can choose from many traditional species like pine, mahogany, oak, Brazilian cherry, or maple flooring.
Engineered hardwood is more resistant to water than traditional hardwoods. Due to the construction, it won’t expand or contract in humid rooms. But it is not the most suitable option for areas with high moisture levels, for example, bathrooms. It’s better to use luxury vinyl plank flooring instead, which is more resistant to water.
Engineered wood can be installed as a floating floor, as can laminate. This makes for quicker installation and lower costs in installation and materials. Still, engineered wood needs a more stable and structurally sound subfloor. It is often more expensive than laminate flooring, but it has a longer life expectancy than laminate and can outlast laminate by decades.
Engineered hardwood floors don’t have the same level of stain resistance as laminate does. But you may prevent your floors from staining if you try to clean spills immediately after they happen. Cleaning of engineered hardwood flooring is similar to laminate. You can use a hardwood vacuum, broom, or dust mop to clean dust, dirt, and debris.
Which Material Is Better?
Now we have compared engineered wood vs. laminate. Both materials are strong, durable floors that are less expensive than natural wood and mimic the natural wood floor beautifully. They can be used with underfloor heating and are also easy to clean and maintain. So the choice depends on your budget, the finish you are looking for, and which rooms you’re planning to renovate, and your personal preferences.