Engineered Flooring vs Laminate Flooring: The Biggest Differences, Pros and Cons

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Laminate flooring and engineered flooring offer cost-effective, long-lasting alternatives to solid hardwood flooring. Because it is made from real wood veneer, engineered flooring looks a lot like solid hardwood.

Laminate flooring is synthetic but closely resembles real wood. Laminate flooring is also much easier to install than engineered hardwood flooring. This makes it an excellent floor covering option for DIYers.

The Key Differences

Engineered Flooring

Engineered flooring, also known as engineered hardwood flooring, is a core of premium plywood that is dimensionally stable and topped with a thin veneer made of hardwood. The thickness of the veneer can vary from 0.5 to 4.5mm.

Engineered flooring can be used as a floor covering and should be placed on top of a subfloor. Engineered hardwood panels are similar to solid hardwood. They attach side-by-side using tongue and groove joinery. Engineered hardwood can either be nailed to the subfloor or glued.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring (HDF) is a high density fiberboard floor covering that has a wood-look photographic layer and is finished with a tough, clear wear layer.

Laminate does not rest directly on subfloors. Instead, it has an underlayment of intermediate foam or felt. This helps to make the boards join together and reduces footfall. Pre-attached underlayment for laminate flooring allows you to attach the laminate boards directly onto the subfloor.

Which flooring is best?

Laminate flooring and engineered flooring are not superior to each other in any category. Each product satisfies different needs. It is better to look at the floor coverings in each category individually.

Comfort and appearance

Engineered Flooring

Engineered flooring is more attractive than laminate flooring. The top is made of real wood and can withstand close inspection.

Engineered flooring is made entirely of wood. Engineered flooring is just like solid hardwood flooring in that it is harder than laminate flooring underfoot. Pre-sanded and pre-coated, engineered hardwood flooring is smooth and splinter free.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring can appear convincingly similar to real wood from a distance. However, this illusion is broken down when you get closer.

Laminate flooring is soft and almost springy underfoot thanks to its synthetic core and foam underlayment. Although it is comfortable underneath socks or bare feet, the wear layer can slip under heels.

Maintenance and Care

Laminate flooring and engineered flooring are equally easy to clean and maintain.

For both types of flooring, the best way to clean them is with a dry mop or broom. Avoid steamers and wet mops. Avoid harsh, ammonia-based cleaners.

Apply liquid to surfaces by rubbing the mop until it is dry to the touch.

Lifespan

Engineered Flooring

Premium engineered flooring with thick veneers can last up to 20-50 years. If properly maintained, they can even last for decades.

Laminate Flooring

Flooring made of laminate has a shorter lifespan than flooring made of engineered wood. Laminate flooring can last up to 15 to 20 years if it is properly maintained and installed in a dry area.

Cost

Engineered Flooring

  • Low: $2-$3 per square foot
  • Medium: $3-4 per square foot
  • High: $5 to $9 per square foot

Laminate Flooring

  • Low: $0.50 – $2 per Square Foot
  • Medium: From $2 to $3 Per Square Foot
  • High: $3-5 per square foot

Installation

Engineered Flooring

In order to install engineered flooring, you will need either glue-down or nail-down.

Click-lock joinery is an option for some newer types of engineered flooring. There’s no need to attach the subfloor. These floors are close to engineered hardwood flooring, but they have real wood veneer and use HDF as their core.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring can be installed much faster than engineered hardwood flooring. Laminate boards are attached only to one side of a floating floor. They do not attach to the subfloor or underneathlayment. Once installed, the flooring is not able to slide due to its weight and friction. Laminate boards can be cut easily with a handsaw or a utility knife.

Water, Heat, and Environment

High moisture environments are not a good environment for most floor coverings. Vinyl or tile flooring are better suited for bathrooms and kitchens that experience a lot of water spillage.

Engineered flooring or laminate flooring can be a good choice if you have a high-trafficked home with lots of pets and people.

Engineered Flooring Engineered hardwood flooring is made from a high-quality plywood base. It is considered to have dimensional stability. The plywood’s layers are perpendicular to one another and can resist swelling and expansion when exposed to water.

Although engineered flooring can scratch or gouge, minor scratches can be removed by lightly sanding the veneer.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring can also be laid in semi-moist areas provided that the boards are well sewn. The lower core of the fiberboard will expand if water is allowed to move between the seams. Laminate flooring will retain its original form after it has dried.

Laminate flooring cannot be sanded. It is difficult, if not impossible to repair laminate flooring. Repairs are usually best made by replacing damaged laminate with new boards. Laminate flooring’s top wear surface is extremely durable and resistant to most everyday wear. Therefore, deep scratches are very rare.

Resale Value

Engineered Flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring is known for its durability and attractiveness. It can be used to increase or maintain the value of your home. Engineered flooring is a great choice for homes with a classic or traditional appearance. Buyers will be able to recognize it.

Laminate Flooring

Over the past few decades, laminate flooring manufacturers have made great strides to improve the quality and status of their products. Laminate flooring is not considered inferior, but it’s still valued less than engineered wood flooring by home buyers.

A home’s value can be maintained or slightly increased by using premium-quality laminate flooring. However, low-quality laminate flooring can decrease a home’s worth.

Bottom line

Engineered flooring looks just like solid hardwood but is much easier to maintain.

Laminate flooring can be a cheaper option than engineered hardwood flooring when it comes to floor coverings.

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