When determining what construction of wood floor to use in a project, there comes across the decision of solid flooring, engineered flooring, or laminate flooring. There is sometimes the misconception that engineered flooring and laminate flooring are the same and that they are constructed from resin or plastic. In truth, engineered flooring is very different from laminate flooring, and what you may be describing when saying this flooring is “not real wood” is not engineered flooring but laminate flooring.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is constructed from thin, pressed wood board with a repeating printed image of wood fused onto a fiberboard core. One thing to note about laminate flooring is that it is not made from plastic but from a collection of wood fibers with a top layer of resin acting as a “wear layer”.
What is Engineered Flooring?
Engineered flooring is a natural wood layer adhered to a plywood base for added stability and an easier installation. This type of flooring contains a thicker piece of real, natural wood on the surface – called a lamella -- so you are still able get that natural wood look with the added ease of installation that an engineered plank offers.
Since laminate flooring is made from pressed wood board with an image of wood printed on it, you can run into the dilemma of your materials looking fake and unlike real wood flooring. Typically, with laminate flooring, the same couple of images are repeated so you will have the same grain pattern every few planks. With engineered flooring, the materials are made from real wood so you will have various, unique grain patterns with every piece of wood.
Durability and Longevity?
The durability of wood flooring typically has several variables that you should take into consideration when choosing between engineered and laminate flooring, such as manufacturer, wood species, finish, and anticipated traffic to the area. Typically, engineered floors can be refinished and repaired easily, without the need to replace the entire floor like you would with a laminate floor. In effect, laminate floors have a relatively short life-span in comparison to engineered hardwood flooring. Typically, a laminate floor will have to be replaced every 20 years where hardwood floors can last a life time since they can be sanded and refinished. So if you are needing something to last for a long time or to hold up to wear and tear, engineered flooring might be the right choice for you.
Effects on the Environment
Engineered flooring, is made from organic and renewable material since the flooring planks are produced from trees. Engineered hardwood flooring can be made from new trees (that are sustainably sourced) or reclaimed wood which is an even more eco-friendly choice of wood flooring. In contrast, laminate floors are the result of bonding several different composite materials and types of resin – which is far from organic. In effect, the clear eco-friendly choice would be engineered hardwood over laminate flooring.
There is a lot to consider when looking for a new floor, and especially when deciding between an engineered or laminate flooring. These are only a few of the variables you should note, and you should always be sure to do additional research before making a decision. We hope this has provided some clarity on the contrast between the two types of flooring but if you have any further questions or would like to talk about the different products we offer, please contact us today. Our wood experts are always available and happy to help!