29 Apr Laminate Flooring vs Engineered Flooring
Laminate flooring and engineered flooring are two flooring options that are widely used in many different residential and commercial environments. Oftentimes it can become confusing – what is a floating floor, which is more durable and is it made of real wood?
In this article, we’ll help break down the ins and outs of each of them so you can decide which is the best for your property.
What is laminate flooring
Laminate flooring is a popular and more economic flooring option which offers a diverse number of designs and colours. It was first introduced by a Swedish company as a method of reusing waste wood for economical and ethical reasons. Buyers were found to favour its significantly cheaper price while being able to retain an authentic look, just like a real hardwood flooring. The laminate planks are first created by deconstructing wood to make it into a pulp, and then fusing them together in order to create a synthetic core. It consists of three primary layers;
- Wear Layer – The surface is coated in an 0.5mm lacquer made of aluminium oxide to provide scratch, moisture resistance and UV protection.
- Print Layer – Embossing and print technology allows us to recreate an authentic timber look and feel. FloorVenue stocks over hundreds of different designs.
- HDF Core – The fibreboard is made up of recycled wood chips and general timber waste for a stable, durable plank foundation. (High Density Fibreboard)
Lastly, laminate flooring are floating floors which feature a click-lock system. It relies on gravity and friction to hold them in place which makes these planks easier and cheaper to install without the need for smelly adhesives or loud nails.
Click here for our article on what is a floating floor
Pros & cons of laminate flooring
Advantages of laminate flooring
Reasons for choosing laminate flooring go beyond saving a few dollars. Laminate floorboards have a number of advantages to make sure you get bang for your buck. These include:
- Durability – Laminate flooring is very durable, known for it’s very high scratch and dent resistance. It is even more abrasion resistant than the strongest hardwood species, making it perfect for high traffic areas.
- Economical – As one of the lowest priced flooring options, laminate flooring can accomodate for even the tightest budgets at $20-$50/sqm. Bring the authentic timber look into your home for half the price!
- Easy to install – Laminate flooring has a simple click-lock system which makes the installation process efficient and effortless, without the need for adhesives or glue.
- Water resistant – Laminate flooring can be water resistant, which provides protection against accidental spills as well as helping your peace of mind.
- Variety – Experience a seemingly endless choice of colours and styles to suit your taste. Whether you want to replicate an authentic, natural timber appearance or create your own unique design, with laminate flooring there is something for everyone.
- Low maintenance – Laminate flooring offers moisture and stain resistant surfaces to make spills and messes easy to clean up and handle. A mop every two months will keep the floors shining.
Click here for our guide on How to Clean Laminate Flooring.
Disadvantages of laminate flooring
Even with all its benefits, there are some things you need to consider before buying a laminate floor. These include:
- Fear of water – Although there are water resistant laminate ranges, they are still made up of wood, and will be susceptible to water damage if left in moist environments for extended periods of time. Laminate flooring is not recommended for kitchens or laundries.
- May be unreliable – These planks can have a large variance in quality. Be careful of very cheap laminate floors as some are poorly made. This detracts from the durability and can potentially offset savings made when buying this floor in repair costs. Cheaper flooring may also have repetitive patterns giving it a fake and artificial look.
- Aren’t real timber – Although it may look exactly like real wood flooring, there are bound to be discrepancies in the feel. Many prefer the natural feel of solid timber underfoot rather than a manufactured version.
Want to see images of our wide range of laminate flooring products?
What is engineered flooring
Engineered flooring is made up of a real timber hardwood veneer with thickness ranging from 0.6 mm to 6mm, attached on top of a plywood core as opposed to a HDF core which makes up laminate floors. A cheaper alternative to using real hardwood floors, engineered wood flooring offers better structural integrity and dimensional stability while retaining an authentic timber look and feel. Engineered flooring is also similar to laminate flooring in the sense that it is a floating floor.
- Wear Layer – Like laminate options, engineered flooring also uses a lacquered surface which provides scratch, moisture and UV protection.
- Timber Veneer – Engineered timber contains a veneer of real timber which usually varies between 0.6 mm to 6mm in thickness. This gives it the real timber experience which laminate floors cannot match.
- The Core – Engineered timber usually contains a plywood core which provides dimensional stability against floorboard movements. Some more innovative products like the HydroPro Timber use a 100% waterproof limestone and PVC based core.
Engineered timber flooring comes in two categories: Engineered Hardwoods & Engineered Oak Timber.
- Engineered Hardwood Flooring – Sourced from Australian and local overseas hardwoods which offer a more earthy and somewhat rustic appearance. Slightly more hardwearing than oak wood.
- Engineered Oak Flooring – Sourced from European, French and American oak woods, these offer an elegant and European classy aesthetic.
Like laminate floors, engineered flooring is also a floating floor with it’s own click-lock system. However, installing engineered floors is slightly more complicated and hence a little more expensive. It is also an option to install it with a glue down method, making the engineered timber planks more solidly held down to the subfloor and less prone to movement from moisture or temperature fluctuations.
Pros and cons of engineered timber flooring
Advantages of engineered wood flooring
There are plenty of reasons you should consider engineered wood flooring for your home. These include:
- Authenticity – As the top veneer is made from real hardwood or oakwood, engineered wood flooring exudes the authentic look and feel which real solid wood flooring has. This is one of the main reasons homeowners love engineered flooring.
- Durability – Engineered wood flooring was specifically designed to counteract one of the main weaknesses in real hardwood flooring, which is its inability to deal with high moisture environments. Engineered floors are built with it’s plywood core to be less susceptible to expansion and shrinkage in temperature/moisture fluctuations.
- Sustainability – Engineered wood flooring is also a more environmentally friendly option compared to real timber floors, as these planks are usually sourced from plantation grown trees, rather than the hardwoods which grow at a significantly slower rate.
- Price – The cost of engineered wood flooring is lower than real hardwood as it utilises a plywood core which is more economical to manufacture. You can also save on installation costs due to the plank’s click-lock system, allowing for a quick and easy installation process without the need for any glue or nails. For more information, check out our Engineered Flooring Cost Guide .
Disadvantages of engineered wood floors
However, before buying anything, it is important to hear both sides of the story. Engineered wood flooring, like any other product, will come with its flaws. These include:
- Not all Engineered floors can be sanded and refinished – Unfortunately, most engineered wood floorings allow very limited amounts of sanding down and refinishing (if not none at all) due to the thinness of its veneer layer. As the veneer layer is so thin, any sanding or refinishing will lead you to sand right down the core layer.
- Lifespan – Engineered wood flooring, due to its thin veneer layer will negatively affect its long term durability and lifespan, as it does not allow for maintenance. Like all hardwoods, engineered flooring will inevitably still be susceptible to scratches and dents over time despite its wear layer.
- Water and Moisture resistance – As engineered wood flooring is made of natural materials, they will warp and bend when faced with excessive water. This also means engineered hardwood cannot be installed in high humidity environments such as the laundry areas, as excess moisture can cause the planks to swell and buckle. However, an innovative product known as HydroPro Timber is a type of engineered hardwood which is impervious to water and moisture.
- May emit VOCs – Low quality engineered floors have sometimes been found to be made with glue containing formaldehyde, which is a volatile organic compound. This has the potential to emit harmful chemicals in your home. Thankfully, this is becoming less and less common, but it is still good to be on the lookout, particularly if you are buying from a cheaper manufacturer.
Showdown: Laminate flooring vs Engineered hardwood
Truth be told, the best flooring depends on your situation. Is it an apartment or home? Is it for the bedrooms or kitchens? Consider your individual circumstances, as they are unique to you. This article can only guide you, but cannot make the final decision.
Direct comparison of engineered and laminate floors:
Both floor’s main selling points include their abilities to retain an authentic timber look and feel. However, some may consider engineered wood flooring as superior in this category due to the fact that these plank’s surface layers are real wood, whereas laminate flooring has a photographic image layer instead.
Winner: Engineered wood
Laminate floors are the most scratch and dent resistant flooring option in the market, which makes them the winner. Engineered flooring is essentially made of natural hardwood or oak wood on the surface which makes them softer than the synthetic laminate flooring.
Winner: Laminate flooring
The expected lifespan of engineered wood flooring is around 30 years, whereas it is 10 to 20 years on average for laminate flooring. Laminate flooring resists scratching and denting well, but does not allow any sanding or refinishing. On the other hand, thicker engineered floors can be sanded and refinished but are more prone to scratches and dents.
Winner: Engineered wood
The laminate flooring is easier to clean due to its plastic layer. However, once the surface layer is worn, it cannot be refinished, the floor will have to be replaced. Whereas, the engineered flooring may be sanded and refinished multiple times. As laminate floors are more scratch and moisture resistant, cleaning them is also less of a hassle.
Winner: Laminate flooring
Both options have easy installation systems, ideal for installing anywhere in your home. Both floors are great DIY options. However, the engineered flooring is a little harder, and professionals will often charge more to install engineered flooring compared to laminate flooring.
Winner: Laminate flooring
Engineered wood flooring definitely sits at the higher end of the market, at between $70 to $120 (material only) per square meter. Laminate flooring’s price ranges are significantly lower at between $15 to $40(material only) per square meter. Installation costs of engineered timber is also higher than laminate flooring as it is more complicated.
Winner: Laminate flooring