16 Mar Engineered Hardwood vs. Laminate Flooring: A Comparison
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Choosing which material to floor your space with is a major renovation decision, as flooring covers such a large area of any home. You will contact it every day both visually and physically, which is why it’s important to consider how you want your flooring to look and feel.
While there is much to consider in terms of visual appeal and comfort when looking at laminate and engineered hardwood, the comparison goes far deeper.
For a thorough breakdown of how the 2 options stack up against each other, take a look at these 5 factors that may help make your flooring decision.
Table of Contents
Let’s face it: While there are many important factors to consider when choosing flooring – such as cost, value and quality – one of the biggest deal breakers is how pleasing it is to the eye. And, in the case of flooring, how nice it is on the feet.
One’s first impression of a floor will almost always be the look and feel of it, which is why aesthetics is still an important aspect to take into account before making a flooring decision.
In the case of engineered hardwood – which is composed of layers of wood that have been bonded together under heat and pressure treatments – it has a top layer of actual hardwood that gives it the appearance.
Because laminate is made up of photographic images of wood planks, it may not look as close to the real thing. With that being said, laminate has come a long way over the years. Its computer-generated images are not only looking more and more realistic, but they are also feeling more realistic. Manufacturers have now added a wide variety of textures. These textures give you more than just the feel of real wood, but also depth of grain, making it look even more like real wood. Laminates are offered in an extensive variety of grains and colours. Compare a North American or European made laminate and you will see.
In terms of the way it feels under your toes, laminate tends to be fairly warm – at least warmer than other materials, such as vinyl – due to its thickness and composition.
Engineered hardwood is also relatively warm, and despite being a hard surface, can feel soft and comfortable underfoot.
2. Engineered Flooring Cost vs Laminate Flooring Cost
If only appearance was the one thing homeowners had to think about. Although the price of flooring is not as fun to consider, it is still an important part of the decision-making process.
In the realm of flooring, engineered hardwood tends to be moderately to highly priced. While the average cost is roughly six to ten dollars per square foot (excluding installation costs), you may find some less expensive options starting at $3.99 per square foot, and some high-end products that reach as far as twelve to fifteen dollars per square foot.
If you are trying to keep a tight squeeze on those purse strings and have your mind on a lower budget, laminate may be a better option. It is certainly one of the less expensive ones, with some laminate costing as little as two and three dollars per square foot, excluding installation costs. The price of the material is usually dependent on how realistic it looks, so those wanting a high-end laminate flooring experience could find themselves paying up to six dollars a square foot.
Labour costs also tend to be slightly less for laminate than engineered hardwood, as it is easier to install.
But, as with all home renovations projects, prices will vary depending on a homeowner’s situation and needs, so be sure to check out the prices at your individual place of sale to receive the most accurate estimate. One important aspect to remember for a successful long term installation with both of these products and is a must – is to make sure your primary floor or substrate is true and level but also within industry standards. Or else, your investment in your home (In this case the flooring) and the labour cost involved will be in jeopardy. If this important aspect is overlooked, your new floor has a huge potential for failure.
3. Flooring Installation
When it comes to installation, laminate can be a cinch to lay down, even for the less-than-handy man. Because its interlocking system allows pieces to click together easily, no adhesives, staples or nails are required. This also means a large area, such as an entire room, can be finished and ready for footfall in one day. A shorter project means you’ll spend less time wearing the tool belt, and can enjoy your new flooring sooner. Laminate is also versatile, and can be laid down in almost any area of the home.
Engineered hardwood is a little more particular, and doesn’t take as kindly to high-moisture areas such as laundry rooms or bathrooms. Installation can be a bit trickier, too, depending on what method one decides to use. Similar to laminate, engineered hardwood can come in a simple click-and-lock system. Other options for installation include glueing float-over padding, stapling, stapling and glueing, and finally, just glue-down.
Please remember from section 2 that your floor must be within industry tolerance for both of these products!
4. Durability of Floors
While engineered hardwood floors look great, remember to consider potential issues. Look very close to real hardwood, they come with some of the same headaches, such as scratching and denting. This will be determined by the end use of the floor. A busy household with children and pets will be more susceptible to these issues.
However, due to its top layer of real hardwood, it can be refinished in some cases to help revive its original appeal. Keep in mind, though, that because the real hardwood is just a thin veneer, it cannot be sanded as often as solid hardwood.
While laminate cannot be sanded as it is extremely durable due to its transparent and stain resistant finish, called the wear layer. Its resistance to nicks and scratches may make it a more appealing option for active households and families with children and pets.
Engineered hardwood doesn’t always have the same lifespan as solid hardwood, which can last a century with proper maintenance. Because the engineered variety can only be refinished a limited number of times before the top veneer starts wearing through, its lifespan can be much shorter. Those with an active household may find their floors starting to look lackluster after a few years or so, while those with quieter homes may see theirs last much longer. Longevity is also determined by the make and quality of the material, so ask the flooring company about any product guarantees, testimonials or warranties. Both products, Laminate and engineered hardwood, can add value to your home, depending on the quality and grade selected, which is something to take into account when considering your home’s future resale.
Laminate can have a lifespan similar to engineered hardwood depending on the quality. However, once it begins wearing through, there isn’t much one can do in the way of maintenance to bring it back to life.
Whether one chooses laminate or engineered hardwood for their flooring project will largely depend on their individual circumstances. Budget, long-term goals and personal taste are all driving forces in any home renovation.
But with the necessary knowledge in hand, homeowners can feel confident about making an informed decision that not only meets their own needs, but is enjoyable for years to come.