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Wood Flooring:  Laminate or Engineered?

Hardwood floors are a classic finish to any home.  They’re warm, welcoming, and great for resale value.  Unfortunately, they’re also not in everyone’s budget.  Still, thanks to modern engineering, there are other, less expensive options that bring the same feel to your house.  Today, we’ll talk about two of the most common alternatives.


Engineered Wood

This is also referred to as man-made or manufactured wood because it’s made up of many layers.  On the bottom, it’s typically several pieces of compressed plywood, although it could also be unfinished pieces of hardwood or even fiberboard.  Depending on the thickness, it might be 3 pieces, or it could be as many as 12. Either way, the top layer is what gives it the appearance of “real” wood—because it is.  By adding a veneer of natural wood, you get the finish of hardwood at a fraction of the price. 

The only problem is that it requires the care and maintenance of real wood.  Over time, it can become dull, scratched and worn.  If you clean it regularly and do routine maintenance, like resealing, you can enjoy your engineered wood floors for a long time. Without the proper care, though, you’ll be shopping for new floors.  Because there’s only a thin layer of natural wood on top, sanding them down to refinish them may simply not be an option.


Laminate Flooring

As the fully synthetic alternative, laminate goes by a number of other names.  Pergo, composite flooring, and even floating wood tile all refer back to this same material.  Essentially, it has a number of layers, as well, but with a much lighter finish overall.  With a bottom layer that serves as a moisture barrier, a strong core of high-density fiberboard, and the top layer that gives it a wood-like appearance.  Over that final layer, there’s also usually a clear coating of laminate to protect the overall finish.

Thanks to this, it’s a much more low-maintenance option than engineered wood or regular hardwood. It’s also the least expensive material out of the three.  Plus, you can get virtually any finish for approximately the same price; you’re not dependent on the supply of natural wood.  However, it’s not super durable.  When cleaning this type of flooring, beware of excess heat or steam that could wear away the top layer of the laminate.  Once this layer wears off, there’s no way to refinish them, so they’ll have to be replaced.  Typically, though, you can get 10-20 years out of this particular flooring.


Both of these alternatives to traditional hardwood can have a place in your next renovation.  Whether you ultimately prefer the look and the price of engineered wood or laminate, we can help you install them! Floor installation is just one of the many projects we handle at KCCS Construction, LLC, and we also offer design tips, if you’re having trouble deciding.  Call us for a free estimate today!

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