Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring – What’s the Difference?

The major difference between the two floor finishes is in their composition, Engineered hardwood is made from natural hardwood, and laminate is made from synthetic imitations of hardwood.

Just like most hardwoods, engineered hardwood is thicker than compared to laminate flooring, which is only about 12 mm thick.

Composition of Laminate Flooring

Composition of Laminate flooring

From a distance, laminate flooring looks realistic, but on close inspection, you can notice that it is synthetic. It consists of a back layer, core layer, design layer, and wear layer.

The wear layer is the topmost layer made out of aluminum oxide and is responsible for protecting the floor against stains and surface burns.

The design layer is a photographic applique layer that resembles wood or sometimes stone. It gives the floor its rich aesthetic value.

The core layer is placed above the back layer. It is made of melamine resin and high-density fibreboard. It makes the floor durable and protects it from indentations.

The back layer which is the bottom layer protects the laminate planks against moisture and balances the floor.

Composition of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring has a more convincing hardwood feel and looks because its topmost layer is made from a thin slice of natural hardwood. It is composed of two layers that are compressed together to form a solid core.

The hardwood veneer wear layer: Also called lamella, this is a thin top skin of engineered hardwood flooring that comes from a slice of natural hardwood.

The bottom & core layers: it is composed of 3-12 multiple layers made from hardwood, soft plywood, or fibreboard glued and pressed together to form a tongue and grooved feature along the edges.

Engineered Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring-Overview

Engineered hardwood flooringLaminate flooring
DurabilityAn estimated span of over 30 years.An estimated span of 25 years. 
AppearanceNatural hardwood surfaceClear imitation of hardwood
costMore expensive than laminate flooringAffordable
Resale valueBest resale value as compared to laminate flooring.No high resale value
Ease of installationRequires pro installation as it is nailed down or glued downEasy to install. Floating floor with interlocking grooves.
Repairs Time-consuming and costly to repairEasy and quick to repair being a floating floor.
Scratch resistance.Easily scratched by pet nails and is hard to remove.The top layer is scratch-resistant.
Comparison between laminate flooring and engineered hardwood flooring

Durability/ Life Expectancy

Engineered hardwood flooring is thicker and has a hardwood layer, which makes it more impact resistant as compared to laminate flooring. However, the natural hardwood is prone to rotting if properly taken care of it could last almost 100 years.

Laminate flooring has a tough wear layer that is scratch resistant and one that does not warp easily, but after about 20 years once the wear layer is gone it can’t be refinished. 

Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand, depending on the thickness of the veneer layer, can be refinished a few times to extend its life span.

Verdict: Engineered hardwood flooring has a toughness that can withstand unexpected events, this makes it more durable compared to laminate flooring.

Appearance

Being made from natural hardwood, engineered hardwood flooring looks better compared to its synthetic counterpart laminate flooring.

Top-quality laminates (usually 12 mm thick) have a more realistic hardwood feel, but still don’t match the natural hardwood.

Just like hardwood floors, the veneer of engineered hardwood is likely to fade, It should therefore be regularly cleaned and taken good care of, to maintain its gorgeous, exotic wood look over the years.

Verdict:

Laminate flooring offers a wide variety of colours, textures, and designs to choose from, but still can’t beat engineered hardwood on realism because it is made from real natural hardwood.

Cost.

Both laminate and engineering hardwood flooring offers a wide range of varieties to choose from and the price changes according to the AC rating, texture, thickness, style, and the brand that you choose.

Here is a table that shows a comparison in prices per square foot of the different qualities of both finishes available in the market.

Flooring lowmidhigh
Laminate flooring$1.99$3$5
Engineered hardwood flooring$4$8$12

Verdict:

Laminate flooring is cheaper compared to engineered hardwood flooring.

Resale Value

In some cases, installing laminate flooring has led to bringing down the resale value of some properties, however some high-end laminates can moderately raise the resale value in some homes.

Laminate flooring has been widely used by many homeowners over the years because it is a better economic choice. Being commonly used however does not impress prospective homebuyers.

Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand, due to its classic appeal and good quality mean an assured life span which is a factor that makes many buyers will opt for it, therefore, the resale value of a property increases.

Verdict:

Engineered hardwood flooring will increase the resale value of your property as compared to laminate flooring . Good quality flooring equals to increase in property value.

Ease of Installation

Laminate flooring is DIY-friendly. It is lightweight and the planks interlock easily with each other.

Being a floating floor, no adhesives or nailing down is required, meaning it can be installed and used on the same day as it needs no time to set.

Engineered hardwood flooring on the other hand, when installed on concrete slabs, needs gluing, nailing down, and precision cutting which is not DIY friendly because the planks are too thick and hard to cut.

The thicker the flooring, the more difficult it is to manage.

The more difficult it is to install the more it attracts higher installation fees.

Verdict:

Engineered hardwood flooring is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to install compared to laminate flooring.

Pet Friendly 

On engineered hardwoods, pets can easily make scratches with their nails, and their urine odour is hard to remove.

Laminate flooring, on the other hand, has a top layer made from aluminium oxide, which makes it scratch-resistant. However, if moisture caused by accidents seeps into the seems, the damage can be brutal, being a floating floor.

It is therefore important to make sure any spillage is immediately dealt with.

Verdict:

Laminate flooring is less prone to pet damage as compared to engineered hardwood flooring.

Comfort-ability

Both laminate and engineered hardwood flooring feel very comfortable to walk on. However, laminate flooring when installed on an uneven subfloor, it tends to flex.

You might also notice click sounds produced by walking with heels or pet nails annoying in laminate flooring because the top has a plastic-like material.

Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand, is thicker and is nailed down therefore, it does not flex or produce clicking sounds. Its thickness makes it soundproof.

Verdict:

Both engineered hardwood and laminate flooring feel really comfortable underfoot, however, in soundproofing, engineered hardwood is a winner.

Laminate Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring Pros and Cons

Laminate Flooring Pros and Cons

Laminate flooring
PROSCONS
AffordableOn close inspection, it is an obvious simulation of natural hardwood because of the high gloss appearance
It is easy to clean and wipeIt does not last long compared to other hardwood floors.
It is scratch and impact resistantIt is prone to water damage being a floating floor. 
Easy to install. DIY friendlyIt has synthetic materials that emit volatile compounds. Only 80 % of it is a recyclable material.
If installed well it is nearly waterproofHas low or zero resale value for your property.
Easy to care for and maintainThe wear layer once gone cannot be refinished to increase its life expectancy.
Laminate flooring Pros & Cons

Engineered Hardwood Pros and Cons

Engineered hardwood flooring
PROSCONS
It has a gorgeous exotic and classic look. Indistinguishable from natural hardwoodThe top veneer is prone to fading if not properly taken care of and cleaned.
It has a high property resale value.It is quite expensive.
It is environmentally friendly.100 % recyclable It is expensive and difficult to install.
The top veneer can be refinished several times to last longer.Scratches and pet scents are difficult to remove.
Has a high life expectancy of close to 100 years.It requires time after installation for the glue to set.
It is moisture resistant.
It is strong, tough, and has high impact resistance.
Engineered hardwood Pros & Cons

Top Brands to Choose From.

Engineered hardwood flooringLaminate flooring.
Mohawk and PERGOMohawk and PERGO
ArmstrongArmstrong flooring
Bruce Shaw floors
Somerset Tarkett
Anderson Acquaguard laminate flooring
Top brands for Laminate & Engineered hardwood flooring

Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood, Which one is Best?

When looking for flooring that has an exotic, classic, and one that has a genuine hardwood feel, then engineered hardwood flooring is the best choice for you. It is long-lasting and yields a high resale value for developers.

On the other hand, if you don’t care so much about the appearance, you can settle for laminate flooring which comes at a relatively cheaper price and whose cost of installation and maintenance is lower.

Overall, engineered hardwood flooring is better compared to laminate flooring. It has more advantages than disadvantages and if the price is not a bother to you then this flooring is the way to go.

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