The beautiful natural appearance of wood has long been the flooring of choice for many homeowners. While solid hardwood may be the only choice for some traditionalists, many homeowners are now using engineered or laminated wood flooring instead to achieve a similar effect.
All three types have specific strengths and weaknesses which make them suitable for different uses. Making the wrong choice for your lifestyle can lead to unnecessary damage and a shortened life for your floor, so it’s worth understanding the difference.
Engineered Wood Flooring - Engineered wood flooring consists of layers of natural wood bonded together. The inner layers are normally made of plywood, which is sandwiched between outer layers of solid wood. This outer layer means that engineered wood gives the appearance of being a natural piece of solid wood flooring.
Engineered wood flooring advantages:
- It is resistant to warping and can often be safely fitted in rooms where there are variable moisture and temperature – this makes it the best wood choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.
- It can be installed over the top of underfloor heating.
- It looks like solid hardwood but at a lower price point.
- Some high-quality engineered wood can be resurfaced, although not nearly as much as solid wood flooring – it depends how thick the veneer is.
Engineered wood flooring disadvantages:
- It is more expensive than laminate flooring and is likely to be closer to solid wood in price.
- Some cheaper engineered flooring products have very thin veneers, which can lead to warping and damage. This can be avoided by choosing a trusted manufacturer.
- Can be lightly sanded a limited number of times before the veneer wears through. When this happens, it will need to be replaced.
Laminated Wood Flooring - Laminate flooring is often confused with engineered wood flooring because it is also made up of layers. The difference is that laminate flooring is a synthetic product; none of the wood used is in its natural state.
Laminate floor consists of a photo of a wood plank covered by a protective layer and mounted on high-density composite wood.
Laminate wood flooring advantages:
- The cheaper materials used in manufacturing laminate flooring make it the cheapest wood option.
- The protective layer makes it easy to clean, very strong, and resists scratching.
- Quick and easy to install.
Laminate floor disadvantages:
- Raised joins sometimes occur if the floor is incorrectly fitted.
- Repairing is difficult, and even replacing a piece with a like-for-like match may lead to differences in colour (due to fading and wear). Often, the floor must be replaced if it is damaged.
- Although laminate is somewhat water-resistant, it is not waterproof. It will warp if water gets into the underlayers, so it’s not a good solution for kitchens or bathrooms.
Solid Wood Flooring - Unlike your other two options, solid wood flooring is, as its name suggests, just a solid piece of timber. This is typically the more sought-after and expensive solution, with prices varying depending upon the type of wood, the grade, and the thickness required.
Solid wood advantages:
- Solid wood flooring can last a lifetime. While it can be scratched, refinishing it can restore it to an as-new condition. A solid wood floor should last for decades.
- Solid wood flooring holds its value well, making it an investment in your home.
- It can be strengthened and protected with coatings and finishes.
- Available in a wide range of natural woods, some of which are not available in other options.
Solid wood disadvantages:
- Solid wood can be dented by an impact or scratched by furniture. Some owners believe these add character, but they can be removed by refinishing the floor if you don’t like them.
- Solid timber floors will expand if exposed to too much water. They are not suitable for kitchens or bathrooms.
- Solid wood floors are the most expensive wood flooring option.
Which Option Should You Choose? Your choice will depend upon your budget, use, and other specifics. If you want a wood floor for your bathroom, kitchen, or to go over underfloor heating, engineered wood is the best choice. If, on the other hand, the budget is your main priority, laminate wood flooring is the best option.
For other uses, including high traffic areas, solid wood flooring will work best. Although it’s a larger upfront investment, it will look better, and it will save you money over time because it will last far longer than the other solutions.
Need Help? Talk to Allen Brothers Flooring