Engineered Wood vs. Laminate Flooring: What's The Difference?

October 06, 2021

Customers often seek to understand the differences between engineered wood vs. laminate flooring. To the untrained eye, these two types of floors may seem like the same product, but they are fundamentally different. Both options, however, are superb solutions, and the product you choose for your home or business has much to do with your specific set of requirements. To streamline the process of choosing the right product for your needs, this article aims to assist you with some information on the differences, and even key similarities, between engineered wood vs. laminate flooring.   

How They Are Made

The big differences in the engineered wood vs laminate flooring debate stem from the way these two kinds of products are manufactured. To begin with, laminate flooring is made up of different layers. The backing layer, the core, the photographic image layer, and the wear layer make up a laminate board. This image layer is hyper-realistic and accurately mimics the look of wooden floors quite faithfully. It is made to look even more authentic when the top layer is embossed with surface texture, which adds a sense of depth.

Engineered wood looks slightly more realistic than laminate flooring because its top veneer is real wood coated with protective acrylic. This top layer of hardwood is bonded to multiple bottom layers of high-quality plywood that offer dimensional stability and is a preferable option to hardwood floors in many cases.

Aesthetic Appeal

In terms of appearance, many people would prefer to invest in something that emulates the look and timeless style of genuine hardwood. Engineered wood floors stand up better to scrutiny because the top layer is not merely an image print – it’s the real deal. Even upon close inspection, most people would not be able to tell the difference between this product and hardwood floors. In this way, it is superior to laminates.

Laminate flooring is not far behind in the looks department, however. Higher quality laminates are not always obvious replicas, and it makes a convincing alternative in high-traffic areas such as those in the commercial sector. Even busy homes with kids and pets can still enjoy the classic feel of wooden floors without worry when they invest in laminates.

laminate flooring

Underfoot Feel and Comfort

Many people do not realise that not all floors feel the same underfoot and that this may be a major consideration when deciding upon a new installation. In this regard, laminate flooring takes first place. The boards are made with a synthetic core and an underlayment of foam. It is considered a floating floor and offers some cushioning while walking. This option is usually softer and more comfortable underfoot overall.

Engineered wood is thicker, and is nailed or glued down during installation, so it will not flex. Generally, it is also not installed with a foam underlayment and due to its top layer of hardwood, it does tend to feel more solid and stable when walking on it.

Installation Process

Plenty of DIY fans opt for laminates because they are much easier to install than most kinds of flooring. We at Top Carpets and Floors do encourage our clients to make use of our professional installation services for laminates, as this guarantees a seamless final result. What makes laminate flooring so easy to install is that they are designed with interlocking edges that simply snap into place. This makes most projects a quick and simple task that only requires expertise when it comes to factors such as corners, stairs and measurements.

Engineered wood is much more difficult to install. It requires a specialised technique when nailing them to a subfloor, much the same as real hardwood floors. Certain kinds of products can also be glued down, but the process remains more complex than installing laminates.

Lifespan and Durability

Wooden floors never fare well when exposed to moisture – that said, laminate floors that are tightly sealed will not suffer damage if accidental spills and messes are quickly cleaned. High-quality engineered wood is dimensionally stable and will also not warp or buckle with moisture damage as quickly as real hardwood floors. Both options are, therefore, water-resistant, but not waterproof – and neither are optimal for high-moisture environments or in areas with lots of humidity. Both products are also rather resistant to heat and sunlight and will perform well in rooms that are not constantly exposed to direct UV rays.

Engineered floors have a real wood veneer, and might be more susceptible to scratches and scuffs, but it is possible to sand them down and refinish them (something that cannot be done with laminates). Across the board, both products are extremely durable, but depending on the quality, engineered floors usually have a longer lifespan.

Other Factors

Due to real hardwood being used, engineered wood is also more expensive than laminates, but the kind of product you opt for will influence this factor. Both options are also easy to clean and maintain and finding the right supplier to answer all your queries and concerns is key.

For a beautiful and stylish range of engineered wood and laminate flooring products from which to choose, be sure to get in touch with us at Top Carpets and Floors today.