When choosing a wood floor covering, laminate and engineered flooring often fall closely together as they can be similar in price, thickness, and method of installation. Let’s look at the differences and throw some light over this subject making the decision process far easier…
Firstly, it’s worth looking at the differences in make up…
A laminate floor is constructed from four parts. The base is made from a melamine or paper balancing sheet. The core is generally made from high density fibreboard (HDF). Then we have the decorative picture or wood/ceramic print and finally a melamine protective surface layer.
You could say a laminate floor is more a synthetic product than it is natural.
An engineered floor is again essentially made up of four parts. A thin ply board balancing base. The core is often made from thicker cross sectional ply board. Then a thin real wood veneer of between 2 mm and 5 mm and finally a protective lacquer or oiled layer.
You could say an engineered floor is more natural than it is synthetic.
The current primary method of installing both these types of flooring is with a glue free click locking system and floated (especially in the diy market). This is the case for ALL laminate floors and many engineered floors. However, some engineered floors are made with a basic tongue and groove that is used to locate each plank and generally joined by the use of pva adhesive. Many can also be glued or nailed directly to the sub-floor.
Generally, you’ll find that engineered floor locking systems are a little trickier to work with than a laminate as the core is produced using ply. Hence, splinters of the ply core can hinder the installation and there is greater friction involved when knocking the planks together. Each engineered floor plank tends to be heavier and bulkier than a laminate.
When cutting the planks you’ll find that although laminate is often thinner than engineered flooring; the tough melamine surface can really eat blades. In other words, make the blades blunt very quickly. An engineered plank is thicker, but providing the cutting tool is used correctly and depending on the hardness of the real wood veneer, blades will often last far longer.
Laminate flooring tends to be cheaper than an engineered. Engineered floors typically starting from £15 per square metre and can go upwards of £60 per square metre. Laminate flooring can start from as little as £3 per square metre and generally peak at around £40 per square metre.
The look of either, as most things, often boils down to the price you pay for the flooring. An engineered floor with a single grain pattern across each plank can look stunning! Whereas, a laminate can look slightly fake, especially the cheaper ranges.
However, over the past few years, laminate floor manufacturing techniques have moved to a completely new level. With the introduction of hand scraped surface textures and defined grains, in the mid to high price brackets; one would struggle to see the difference between a laminate and an engineered floor unless you were on your hands and knees. Even then spotting the two types of flooring apart can be difficult.
By far a decent laminate takes the edge on durability. Regardless of the price or quality of finish, an engineered floor will always mark far easier than a laminate.
The constant myth that I’ve heard over the years is that an engineered floor is more hard wearing than a laminate. Ask anyone that’s got an engineered floor, how it performs when danced across with spiky high heels, when furniture is moved over it, children play with their toys or with general everyday wear and tear; and you’ll have your answer. Not Good!
If subjected to high temperatures i.e. In a conservatory, regardless of manufacturers stipulating they have given their engineered wood floor a UV protective lacquer, over time, a good quality laminate floor will perform better than an engineered. The classic yellowing is far less common with a laminate than it is with an engineered.
Both a laminate and engineered floor serve their purpose valiantly. That is to be a floor.
It’s worth considering where the floor will be installed. For high traffic areas, a high quality laminate floor (You are looking for an AC5 rated laminate floor here) that will put up more of a fight against lots of knocks and bumps would surely be a better choice. Whereas an engineered floor in such an area, although can be sanded, may look tired before long.
An engineered floor will give you warmth and a natural unique feel which would be ideally suited to a well respected room, such as a lounge or study.
From a practical point of view, for me laminate has the edge; especially in a busy household.
If the hustle and bustle is subsiding with the kids growing older or flying the nest and you want to inject a little sophistication and character into your home; then a good quality engineered floor has to be put high on the list.
Whichever you choose, choose wisely with plenty of due diligence as this will see your money spent well and your new floor last for years!© Copyright 2014 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor