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Is Laminate the Same as Engineered Wood?

Is Laminate the Same as Engineered Wood?

Dear Bob and Betsy,
My floors need to be replaced, but I have no idea where to begin. I like the look of hardwood floors but they’re way too expensive. Is laminate the same as engineered wood floors? If not, what’s the difference?
– Diane

Dear Diane,

There are so many ways that flooring is manufactured. Keeping up with it all is not easy.

Laminate and engineered wood floors are both very popular alternatives to hardwood floor, but they are not created equal. Although they are made from similar materials, they have key differences that make one option better than the other depending on where the flooring is going in your home.

Laminate flooring is one of the most versatile types of flooring. It’s durable and comes in a variety of colors, styles, and finishes. It’s the preferred choice for high traffic areas in your home because it can withstand quite a bit of abuse. Laminate is made out of high-density fiber with a top layer that’s designed to look like hardwood flooring.

Engineered hardwood is a type of hardwood flooring that has been designed to look like a hardwood floor, but with more durability. To make engineered wood flooring, a plywood core board is created by stacking wood plies in opposite directions while gluing each piece together. These are usually made together with high density fiberboard, which makes it more stable than basic plywood core board and more moisture resistant than a solid wood.

Once the plank is assembled, a real hardwood veneer is placed on top, giving it the hardwood classification. Engineered hardwoods come in almost any species and color. Because there is a wood layer at the top, it is more prone to scratches and showing basic wear and tear and requires a hardwood care and maintenance regimen.

Laminates have advanced to a point where they look like real hardwood flooring, but without the high cost or extra maintenance. Engineered hardwoods still give you the look and feel of a solid hardwood floor, but with greater durability and a possible increase in home value.

To determine which floor is best for your needs, you should consider:

  • Where will the flooring be laid?
  • How much abuse will the flooring take?
  • How much maintenance do you want to have to do?
  • Will there be a lot of moisture in the room?
  • Cost

Choosing a floor is a big decision! We recommend talking to a flooring expert and ordering some samples to help you compare choices.

*Article has been updated from original posting on 7.11.14

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