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Engineered & Laminate flooring - What's the difference?

In today's flooring industry, there are a number of flooring options to choose from and one common misconception is that engineered wood flooring and laminate wood flooring are the same. Engineered wood flooring and laminate flooring are in fact constructed completely differently, this results in differences in cost, life expectancy, appearance and maintenance regimes.

So what is the difference between the two?

An Engineered wood floor is an 'engineered' product made from natural materials. A quality engineered wood board would be made up of solid piece of wood adhered to a plywood under core. The plywood section of the board is made up of multiple layers of timber, each stuck in opposing directions to one another which gives the boards a large amount of strength and stability. The thickness of the top layer of solid wood is commonly known as the 'wear layer' and it is this wear layer that gives an engineered wood floor the look and feel that replicates that of a traditional solid wooden floor. Due to the ply wood construction that lies beneath the wear layer, you have the visual effect of a solid wooden floor without the potential issues that often comes with a solid board in terms of its susceptibility to swelling and shrinking.

A laminate floor is a product constructed from synthetic materials made from various layers that are laminated together. The core of a laminate floor is often a fibre board material that is topped with a textured image that replicates real wood. Upon closer inspection the difference between this imprinted image and the real wood veneer on an engineered product is quite apparent. A laminate product has pre-designed patterns that will re-occur throughout the floor compared the uniqueness of real wood with no two boards ever looking the same.

There are also important differences to consider in life expectancy and maintenance. Both options are easy to clean by simply using the relevant cleaning products from time to time, but the real difference comes to light when surface scratches or damage occur. Although the finish of a laminate floor can be hardwearing, after time the floor will begin to show wear and tear from things like furniture, animals and general usage. This damage is impossible to repair and there is no effective way of treating or replenishing the finish, eventually the entire floor will have to be replaced. A quality engineered wooden floor on the other hand has the real wood wear layer which, once the finish becomes worn, can be re-treated or sanded and re-treated multiple times. The finish also can be maintained if it is treated with a treatment such as hardwax oil as a hardwax oil can be replenished with the likes of wax polishes and cleaning products which in turn increases the longevity of the finish. Often a dull looking floor can be brought back to life without all the effort of sanding and re-treating and just using appropriate maintenance products. In terms of overall life expectancy a laminate floor is said to be last no more than approximately 25 years whereas a good quality engineered product with a thick wear layer should last much longer. This is important to bear this in mind when comparing the cost of the two.

As always, if you have any questions in regards to engineered wood flooring we are here to help. Being a family business we pride ourselves on the products we supply and the service we offer. So give us a call today and we can discuss the best type of wooden floor to suit your tastes and requirements.

About the author

Tom Fanthorpe. Director, JFJ Wood Flooring Ltd

Tom is one half of the father & son team behind JFJ Wood Flooring. An experienced wood flooring specialist with over 7 years in the industry, Tom is following in his father John's footsteps as a true expert in his chosen field. Having absorbed much of John's 35+ years of experience in the joinery and timber trade, Tom now leads the wood flooring department and holds ultimate responsibility for everything from customer service to sales, logistics to quality control.

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Submitted by Aiste McCormick (not verified) on Sat, 20/05/2017 - 21:04

Hi, considered engendered wood for our hallway and kitchen. The worry we have is that we don't have an entrance hall and so would be walking straight onto the wood both from the garden and through front door. We have kids, cat, bikes, buggy. Is the engendered wood going to get marked easily and just look dirty?

Submitted by jfjadmin on Mon, 22/05/2017 - 14:27

Dear Aiste,

Thank you for your comment.

Engineered wood flooring is used extensively in both kitchens and hallways and would certainly be a suitable flooring solution for you.

One of the most important aspect would be the treatment that the flooring is finished with. If you chose to use a high quality oiled finish such as Treatex or Woca it would not only be durable but it would be also very easy to clean and maintain. By simply washing the floor with a mop and appropriate wood cleaning product (Treatex Floor care or Woca Natural Soap) you would remove dirt from the floor as well as give the flooring a replenishing coat at the same time which will help to keep a healthy finish.

Lacquers are also very hard and will not damage easily. However they are more difficult to put right if you do damage them. We have another article on our website which discusses oiled vs lacquered finish that you may find of interest:

I will email this over to you to make sure you have received this reply. Perhaps a conversation on the phone would be beneficial?

I will hope to hear back from you soon.

Many thanks,

Tom (JFJ Wood Flooring)

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