If you’re looking for a traditional wood flooring aesthetic without the premium costs of hardwood, laminate, and engineered wood are great contenders. Both materials have advantages and disadvantages, making them more or less suitable for certain circumstances. Here’s everything you need to know about engineered wood flooring vs laminate.
What are the pros and cons of laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring is usually composed of four layers. The bottom layer acts as a moisture barrier, increasing the strength and stability of the planks. The main structural element that supports the weight of foot traffic is next, known as the core layer. A print layer follows, which boasts the decorative design of the planks. The uppermost wear layer protects the design, resisting abrasion and protecting the planks from water damage.
Laminate flooring can suit a variety of interiors, with a wide range of colors and styles available. As well as mimicking traditional wooden floors, laminate planks can have the appearance of stone, ceramic, and even cork. The planks can be purchased for a relatively low cost, and since they’re one of the easiest flooring types to install yourself, further costs can be saved here if desired. It’s worth noting that laminate flooring is unlikely to add any value to your property, so if a potential sale is in the near future, it may be worth investing in a more premium flooring material.
Laminate is relatively long-lasting as the wear layer protects against scratches, dents, and stains. The planks are easy to clean by simply hoovering dust and mopping with a suitable cleaning solution, so maintenance isn’t a big concern.
The main disadvantage of laminate flooring is that the planks have poor water resistance. Water can seep into the seams between the boards, causing swelling, warping, cracks, and lifting, making it less suitable for specific applications. Laminate also cannot be refinished, so any scratches, dents, or scuffs will require replacements to remove.
Wood-grain laminate can give the appearance of hardwood from afar, but up close, it can be easier to distinguish the materials. Most laminate planks will have anywhere between three and ten differently patterned boards, so care should be taken at installation to ensure no matching boards are placed together, as this can ruin the illusion of natural hardwood.
What are the pros and cons of engineered wood flooring?
The composition of engineered wood flooring makes it more comparable to solid wood planks. The base is often a veneer layer of hardwood, laid transversely to the cross-layered core, commonly made of either plywood or softwood. Both these layers provide strength and stability to the planks. The top layer is made of solid hardwood, giving an almost identical appearance to traditional hardwood planks.
Engineered wood flooring is often a more eco-friendly alternative to hardwood as a significantly lower amount of natural wood is required per plank. Most variations of hardwood are available as engineered wood, so it’s simple to achieve your desired look. The planks are also available at a lower price than traditional hardwood. Despite this, engineered wood flooring is almost indistinguishable by eye from solid wood planks.
The planks are durable and long-lasting, with good resistance to temperature fluctuations and moisture, making them less likely to deform. They can be refinished to remove any dents, scratches, or scuffs; however, there is a limit to how many times engineered wood can be refinished before the stability of the plank is compromised.
Scratches and scuffs aren’t the only cosmetic concern, as engineered wood is vulnerable to fading when regularly exposed to UV. This can be slowed by keeping curtains and blinds closed or placing rugs over particularly exposed areas. Still, these aren’t always suitable solutions, depending on the location of the flooring.
The amount of maintenance required to keep the shine and luster of engineered wood is an important consideration, as the planks need a consistent cleaning routine. Lower-quality engineered wood can also weaken and become unstable over a short period, so it’s advisable to seek high-quality planks from a professional supplier such as Powerhouse.
Cost of laminate vs engineered wood flooring
As with any flooring type, the price you can expect to pay will depend on the manufacturer and material chosen and the size of the installation area.
Laminate flooring will generally cost between $1 – $3.50 per square foot for the planks, with installation costing between $2 – $7 per square foot. As previously mentioned, the installation costs can be saved by fitting the flooring yourself. Laminate is a common choice for DIY flooring due to its simple installation process.
Engineered wood planks can cost around $3 – $11 per square foot, depending on your chosen type of hardwood. The installation costs range from $3 – $10 per square foot. If engineered wood flooring is installed incorrectly, its lifespan can be drastically shortened, and the planks can pose a danger to anyone walking across them. It’s not advised to install this type of flooring yourself.
Laminate flooring for commercial use
Laminate flooring is a popular choice for various commercial spaces as it’s durable, low maintenance, easy to clean, and quick to install. Most laminate planks will have an AC rating, which tells you how durable the flooring is. Planks that can withstand moderate commercial use usually have an AC4 rating, but AC5 planks are more suited for heavy commercial applications.
Check that the warranty of your chosen flooring covers commercial use, as you will not be able to claim for any early issues without it. Although laminate is relatively hard-wearing, for commercial spaces with consistently heavy foot traffic, you’re better off investing in higher-quality flooring material to get the best return on investment.
Commercial engineered wood flooring
Engineered wood flooring is an excellent option for use in commercial spaces where you want the professional aesthetic and durability of hardwood floors at a more affordable price. Engineered wood is stable, long-lasting, and strong enough to withstand heavy commercial foot traffic.
The planks may require regular maintenance, but most commercial properties will already have a set cleaning regime in place. If the flooring is to get dented, scratched or scuffed, the planks can be refinished to restore the original look without the need for a full replacement.
There is no black-and-white answer to whether laminate or engineered wood flooring is better. Both have the characteristics and environments that they are most suited for.
Whichever material you choose, always take the time to find a high-quality product from a reputable supplier. Have the installation completed by a professional to give your flooring the strongest start to its long commercial life.