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Laminate Flooring vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring
If you're looking to install synthetic flooring in your home, you will likely have to chose between laminate flooring, and engineered hardwood flooring. Both have seen a huge rise in popularity as home builders become ever more environmently conscious. Both flooring options have distinct advantages and disadvantages, and we will discuss those here today. Let's start with the basics:
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring (also called floating wood tile in the United States) is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product fused together with a lamination process. Laminate flooring simulates wood (or sometimes stone) with a photographic applique layer under a clear protective layer. (Source: laminate flooring
What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?
Builddirect.com describes engineered hardwood flooring as, "a product made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core and is available in almost any hardwood species."
Side by side Comparison: Laminate Flooring and Engineered Hardwood Flooring
There is an obvious visual difference between these two synthetic flooring options. Since engineered hardwood flooring actually has a small piece of actual wood as part of it's composition, it makes sense that it looks more like solid hardwood than laminate flooring does. In fact, it is difficult for the untrained eye to spot the difference between a solid hardwood floor and an engineered hardwood floor. So, in the appearance category- if you want a synthetic floor that looks the most like solid hardwood, then engineered hardwood is your best bet.
This category goes to laminate flooring, hands down. Not only is laminate flooring cheaper to purchase by the square foot (usually ranging from $2 /sqft on the lower end, and around $5/sqfoot on the higher end if you install it yourself) it is much cheaper to have installed. For a standard 20x20 living room, a Los Angeles homeowner can expect to pay between $1,256 and $3,000 to have entry level laminate flooring installed. Compare that to engineered hardwood, which hits the pocketbooks a little deeper, coming in around $3,300-$6,300 for a room of the same size. (source: CostHelper.com)
As with everything else- you get what you pay for. The lifespan of either type of flooring will greatly depend on the quality of the materials you purchase at the time of install. Both types of flooring generally come with some sort of warranty. With realistic use, wear, and tear- you can expect a maintained laminate floor to last roughly 10-25years. Compare that to engineered hardwood which has a lifespan averaging around 40-50 years. Again, this is due to the fact that laminate flooring uses an image of wood, where as engineered hardwood uses a small sliver of the wood itself.
This one goes to laminate flooring. A regular sweep and swiffer is really all it takes to keep your laminate floors looking good. On the other hand, engineered hardwood floors may take a bit more maintenance, and you must be more dilligent about removing dust, dirt and debris- as these materials can act like sand papaer and dull the finish on your floors. That being said- when it comes to repairs, engineered hardwood has the advantage because damaged sections can be replaced one slat at a time, and depending on quality, in some cases you can actually refinish this type of flooring.
5. Environmentally Friendly ?
There has been some concern over laminate flooring, as it has been brough to light that some imported laminate floors may actually contain fromaldehyde. While many flooring companies now specify whether or not their supply may contain fromaldehyde, it is still a concern among families. Engineered Hardwood does still require for trees to be cut down to produce it, but since there is only a very thin sheet of actual wood in each slat, the amount of wood used (and therefore trees cut down) is greatly reduced. Both pose some environmental concerns, so this one is a draw.
6. Design Options
Laminate Flooring uses an image, so the sky is really the limit. You can choose from stone-like laminates, laminates that look like granite, and anything in between. Laminate flooring comes in an endless rainbow of colors, textures, and designs. Engineered hardwood has a wide variety of color options as well, but it is not nearly as versetile in appearance as laminate floors are.
Deciding on the right type of flooring to get can be difficult- but hopefully this article clears up any lingering questions you may have regarding the advantages and disadvantages of laminate flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. Whatever your decision, Atlas will be here to answer your questions and decide what is the perfect synthetic flooring for you!