Laminate wood floors and engineered wood floors are very different, but can be hard to distinguish between them. Consider the following information to help you determine which type of floor best suits your needs.
Laminate flooring is composed of wood-chip composite and a thin surface layer made of resin-infused paper. The surface layer displays a photograph of wood so that it is nearly indistinguishable from real wood.
Engineered wood flooring is composed of a layer of plywood placed beneath a top layer of finish wood. Each ply is arranged perpendicular to the next, giving the entire structure significant strength. Engineered wood flooring is often used in bathrooms and basements—areas which are prone to attracting moisture.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Laminate wood flooring is renowned for its ability to resist scratches and scrapes. It is ideal for homes with children and pets. Unlike hardwood, laminate flooring holds up well to moisture. Finally, laminate is easy to install and maintain.
On the downside, many people feel that laminate wood flooring is too slippery and provides too hard a walking surface, producing a hollow sound. For this reason, you may be have to factor a foam underlayment into the cost of purchase. Another setback with this floor type is that damaged areas can’t be sanded.
Engineered wood floors offer greater versatility. The thinner types can be nailed down to provide a very sturdy floor, and thicker varieties are also ideal for making floating floors.
Thin surface layers are the greatest weakness of engineered flooring. While this layer can be sanded, it can only be done once or twice without potential damage. Sanding will be virtually impossible if the surface suffers deep dents and scratches.
Both of these floor types hold up well in areas of light to heavy moisture.
Heat and Resistance
Both engineered wood floors and laminate wood floors can be installed over radiant heat. They also have properties that make them resistant to dents and scratches.
Thanks to its plywood core, an engineered wood floor will remain more stable for longer. As the floor ages, it gains character through dents, scratches and fading.
You may be disappointed with laminate wood flooring as the years go by. This floor type tends to lose its luster over time and will need to be replaced—or at least repaired—sooner.