When it comes to choosing your new flooring, we’re well past the days of limited options. Roll back the years, and you’d only have different species of solid wood to choose from.
As technology has advanced, so has the composition of wood flooring. Furthermore, so has the variety of choice. Two popular, modern alternatives to solid wood are laminate and engineered wood flooring. But what’s the difference, and how do you choose between the two?
In this post, we’ll delve into the facts on each of these wood flooring types. We’ll also cover the benefits and drawbacks of each. This way, you can be sure you’re making the right decision when choosing your flooring.
Whilst often seen as a more cost-effective alternative to wood flooring, laminate more than holds its own against its authentic counterpart. In fact, people choose laminate over wood flooring for a number of reasons.
Laminate is manufactured from multiple layers of high-density fibreboard (HDF). A digitally printed top layer covers densely-packed wood fibres to create a stable core. High-quality wood image is printed, which is often paired with authentic-feeling bevels and grains, to create a hyper-realistic wood effect.
One of laminate’s most desirable features is its durability. This makes it possible to fit laminate almost anywhere in a home or commercial property. The only exception to this may be places with excess moisture. But, with proper maintenance and taking care of spillages quickly, it’s possible to fit it in kitchens if you so desire. The top layer is often water-resistant, as well as featuring anti-bacterial, scratch-resistant coating.
Every one of our laminate flooring ranges features something called a ‘click’ system. Most wood flooring comes with a standard tongue and groove system. The difference between the two is slight, and they both make for easy fitting. However, a click system locks together in place and can save even more time whilst still giving you a high quality finish; even if you’re fitting your laminate flooring yourself.
All laminate flooring is given a certified abrasion class. Most commonly, this is referred to as a flooring’s ‘AC rating’. Each laminate is given an AC rating of between AC1 – AC5. Laminate suitable for residential properties with moderate traffic would be given a rating of AC1, moving up in increments to AC5, which is certified for commercial use in areas with heavy footfall.
- Laminate flooring is quick and easy to install thanks to its ‘click’ system
- All of our laminate floors are environmentally friendly as standard, with all of our wood originating from sustainable forests
- Often cheaper than solid wood flooring, meaning less upfront costs
- Quicker installation means less fitting costs. You can also save even more money by fitting the laminate yourself
- Laminate’s composition means it’s highly durable. It’s therefore a preferred choice for high-traffic areas in the home and commercial properties
- Top layer is scratch and water resistant, meaning your flooring looks like new for longer
- Suitable for underfloor heating
- Damaged floorboards can easily be replaced, as they can be ‘clicked’ out with relative ease
- Laminate’s surface is incredibly easy to clean – an all-in-one flooring cleaning kit will ensure your flooring looks pristine throughout its lifetime
- Laminate flooring is a great choice for people with allergies, as there’s nowhere for dust and other allergens to hide
- Whereas solid and engineered wood can be sanded down (more on this later in this post), because laminate features a hyper-realistic printed image, it cannot be sanded and refinished
- Laminate is unlikely to last as long as a real wood flooring, although with proper maintenance it can still last decades – with many of our ranges coming with up to 30 years residential warranty!
Engineered Wood Flooring
A second alternative to solid wood flooring is engineered wood. As the name suggests, rather than planks cut from a single piece of wood, engineered wood is manufactured from multiple components. This creates a final product that’s desirable for many reasons.
Engineered wood consists of a HDF (similar to laminate), or plywood core. The core layers bond together with extreme pressure and glue, for added durability.
A solid wood veneer then covers the base. This means that, rather than a printed image, engineered wood has a truly authentic look and feel of real wood. This top layer can vary in thickness – typically anywhere between two and six millimetres.
A huge benefit of engineered wood is that it’s usable with underfloor heating. This is also the same for laminate as well though, so there’s nothing separating the two on that front. Multiple layers means they’re less susceptible to the effects of fluctuating temperatures. If you are installing either flooring over underfloor heating, it’s best to increase the temperature in 1°C increments. This allows the flooring to adjust slowly to the excess heat. It should also never exceed 27°C.
Whereas solid wood flooring is usually glued down, engineered wood can be installed as a floating floor (again, as can laminate). This makes for quicker installation, and lower costs due to quicker fitting and less accessories needed – i.e. wood glue. All of our engineered woods come with tongue and grooves as standard, further simplifying the fitting process.
Engineered wood’s top layer definitely trumps laminate when it comes to authentic looks. Brushed, lacquered, or oiled veneers create varying looks and add even more durability. The grain variation and authentic knots of real wood are unsurpassed. Plus, for added longevity, you can sand the top layer down and re-finish. This means that after a duration of time, if your flooring’s looking a little worn and damaged, you can have it looking as good as new in just a matter of hours.
- Like our laminates, our engineered flooring only uses sustainably sourced wood
- Engineered wood has a longer life expectancy than laminate, backed up by many of our ranges being covered under our lifetime platinum warranty
- Suitable for underfloor heating
- Often installed as a floating floor, often saving you money on installation and materials costs
- Supreme durability from multiple layers making up its core
- Sand and re-finish top layer to create a new looking floor
- Tongue and grooved boards make for easy installation
- Requires little maintenance, with a simple brush and dry mop leaving a dirty floor looking in pristine condition again
- Engineered wood comes in a wide variety of styles, at different price points, which means there is something to suit all tastes and budgets
- Engineered wood, like laminate, is not the most suitable option for areas with high moisture levels such as bathrooms. We would recommend using luxury vinyl tiles instead, which are more resistant to water
- Due to the cost of materials and a solid wood top layer, engineered wood is often more expensive than laminate flooring. Although this is worth considering, engineered wood can outlast laminate by decades. It depends on your preference – short-term or long-term savings
There are many positives, whichever flooring you choose. It all depends on personal style preference, and of course your budget. The good news is, we’ve moved on from the days of solid wood or nothing. So, which will you choose?