Laminate and timber flooring are two widely used flooring options that are used in a range of flooring applications, however, because of their numerous similarities, most people usually confuse one for the other; hence the need to distinguish them and determine which one is more suitable for your needs.
In a nutshell, laminate is a unique multi-layer synthetic flooring product which is designed to resemble real wood. Its core layer is primarily made from fibre board material and melamine resin while the top layer features an imprinted textured image that looks like real wood. On the other hand, engineered timber flooring consists of numerous layers of wood or plywood materials. The middle and bottom layers are made from plywood or cross-laid planks, while the top layer comprises of a solid real sawn wood which is often prefinished and stained in factory settings.
What are the main differences between laminate and engineered wood flooring?
The engineered wood flooring is typically made of superior quality plywood with a pre-finished fine hardwood veneer on top, however, laminate flooring is made of a thin and pressed wood board resembling natural wood on the top. This is normally covered by a clear layer that protects the image and below it is a separate underlayment.
On average, the veneer of engineered wood flooring is about 3-4mm thick, while the total product thickness with all layers included is approximately 14mm thick. As for laminate flooring, all the layers combined range from 6mm to 12mm thick.
Repair and refinishing
Due to its thin veneer, the engineered wood flooring can be refinished a few times before that veneer starts wearing down to base plywood layers, however, it is not possible to repair laminate flooring in the traditional wood repair sense. Instead, when the top layer of the floor is damaged or worn out, all you can do is to replace the planks.
Which one is better to use?
Ease of installation
The two flooring options are incredibly versatile and can be installed just about anywhere within the house. Although both of them are great options for do-it-yourself installation, the engineered wood floors are a little harder to install, hence the need to purchasing flooring with a good locking system. Professionals often charge more to install engineered wood than laminate installation.
When choosing your flooring materials, you definitely want something that will last. Ideally, laminate is known to resist nicks, scratches and scuffs quite well, however, should something happen to it, you cannot refresh or sand it down since it is not real wood. If well maintained, it can last up to 20 years. On the other hand, engineered wood is typically more prone to scratches and scuffs, even though it can be sanded down and refinished. Alternatively, you can add a protective coating in order to improve aesthetic appeal and increase it lifespan, which can go up to 75 years.
Both engineered wood and laminate flooring come in a range of price structures right from the bargain prices to luxury styles. For laminates, prices usually rise with higher AC (abrasion class) ratings, spill protection, added technology and surface textures. The cost is between $15 and $40 per
square metre. On the other hand, the price engineered floors are determined by the thickness of the top solid wood, the style, brand and the species of the wood. On average, engineered wood is comparatively more expensive, and you can pay $70 to $120 per square metre.
In a nutshell, when you are presented with these two flooring options, your choice should be informed by your unique needs and overall budget. Ideally, laminate is a great product for high traffic areas which are prone to nicks and scuffs and is best if you are on a tight budget. On the other hand, though a little more expensive, engineered wood offers greater durability and a more realistic look as well as feel.