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Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring

A hardwood floor is a stunning addition to any home but comes with a staggering cost both in installation expenses and maintenance. Hardwood floors are not only expensive but most often need professional care to maintain its look as well as its functionality.

These reasons paved the way for two of the most popular alternatives to hardwood flooring that looks, feels, and provides excellent value to a home without breaking the bank.

Taking a closer look at these two alternative flooring materials will help us understand what makes them a popular choice among builders. Flooring comes in many styles, but there is nothing more popular than a  laminate and engineered hardwood flooring.

The way they are manufactured enabled these two favorites to be priced well below hardwood flooring. Laminate and engineered hardwood are almost indistinguishable from real hardwood flooring, thus making them indispensable in many of today’s homes.

Because they are so widely used in construction, these two materials are often confused with one another. While physically, there is little to spot them apart from a distance, they do differ. The debate about which one is better continues unabated, and we are here to get you to that point where you can choose with confidence as to which material is best suited to your needs as the homeowner.

What Is Laminate Flooring

A laminate flooring is essentially an image of hardwood placed on top of composite wood materials that are pressed together and finished off with a sturdy and durable coating. It is, in essence, a photograph of hardwood placed on top of composite materials. It is a facsimile of hardwood and, in many ways, a much more durable version of it. 

The composite wood that gives the laminate its strength is pressed together in high temperatures, forming the laminate itself. Laminate, as the name suggests, is composed of several layers and has a larger portion of synthetic materials than engineered hardwood. Some of the world’s best laminate flooring can be quite affordable because of this.

Benefits of Laminate Flooring

Aside from the apparent benefit of costing less than the traditional hardwood flooring, laminate offers a multitude of features that one cannot directly get from other floorings. Let us take a closer look.

Ease and Cost of Installation

There is a reason why laminate flooring is a favorite among do-it-yourself enthusiasts, and it’s because it is among the easiest to install. It can be installed in a variety of ways, and even the most novice of builders can finish a flooring job in less than a day.

For laminates, they are often advertised and designed to be installed DIY-style. There is a multitude of choices in terms of brands, and the Trafficmaster laminate is known to be budget-friendly and is definitely worth looking at.

Sustainable and Environmentally-Friendly

Laminates are made of both plastics and wood fibers, making them recyclable and can be manufactured from recycled lumber or plastic. This considerably eases the strain on the demand for natural lumber and thus contributes significantly to preserving the environment in that sense.

The figures place an 85% rating of being recyclable on laminate flooring and go a long way in lending a helping hand in the preservation of our natural resources.

Durability and Appearance

Benefits of Laminate Flooring

Advances in manufacturing allow textures to be printed on along with the image of wood, thus making it virtually impossible to distinguish laminate from real hardwood flooring in a casual inspection. The top layer of the laminate is almost clear plastic and holds up well against daily foot traffic and wear and tear.

The minimum warranty that you can find on laminate flooring products starts from five years and goes up to thirty-year warranties, thus giving you an idea of the longevity of the materials used in their manufacture.

Ease of Maintenance

Because laminate flooring is made up of recyclable materials of mainly wood and plastic, the flooring is effortless to clean. Cleaning the surface is a simple spray, wipe, and you are done affairs with very little need for professional cleaning. A variety of cleaning solutions are available, and keeping this flooring squeaky clean is a breeze.

Water and Heat Resistance

Generally, laminate flooring is not recommended for areas that have a high level of humidity, but technology has these covered once again in terms of developing water-resistant laminate flooring. While these indeed come together with conditions, such as being installed professionally, it is definitely an improvement over earlier laminate flooring which does not hold up to moisture on any level at all.

Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring

Flooring is not something that any homeowner decides on a whim, and it is essential to take a very close look as to what makes laminate the go-to when doing this in the home. Laminate is considered an economical choice, but it can still fetch several hundred dollars, so it would be best to know the good and the compromises that go with it.

Pros

Durability and Scratch Resistance

The top layer that covers the design layer of the laminate flooring is exceptionally durable and resistant to wear and tear. For this reason, this flooring is highly recommended for high foot traffic areas, especially for households that have pets. Not only that, but almost all laminate flooring has UV protection included in their topcoats, making them resistant to fading due to sunlight.

Wide Variety in Terms of Design

Because an image is used to replicate the aesthetics of wood, laminate flooring has endless possibilities in terms of design. Even rare species of wood can be reproduced, as well as design combinations. The great thing is that despite this advantage, the pricing remains across designs.

Affordability

Because it is made up of about 85% of recyclable materials, laminate flooring can be competitively priced. They also offer high sustainability in terms of being environmentally viable. Laminate flooring provides the look of hardwood flooring while being priced just slightly above vinyl flooring materials, making this a popular choice for those on a budget but still love the look and feel of traditional hardwood flooring. 

Very Easy to Install

Aside from being quite affordable from the start, this flooring system is straightforward to install, saving hundreds of dollars on installation costs. The Shaw laminate is a durable flooring option and is quite easy to install. Even the most amateur handyman can install this flooring in a room in a day.

Compatibility With Radiant Heating Systems

Most D.I.Y.ers are happy to know that this flooring is fully compatible with radiant floor heating systems. Simply place them on top of the installed heater, and it will be good to go without any additional or specialized equipment. Of course, this goes without saying that the radiant floor heater is already installed professionally before laying down the flooring.

Cons

Noise

Although very rare, the floor produces sound, especially if not correctly installed. This usually happens on laminate flooring that is installed using glue instead of the newer method of interlocking laminate planks.

This is why it is recommended to at least do some research on how to properly install laminate flooring to avoid this problem. While Dream Home laminate doesn’t flex, a laminate underlayment is necessary to ensure a silent and accurate fit. 

Water Resistance

While generally considered as being less waterproof than vinyl flooring, laminates now have a waterproofing rating comparable to them. Some even have the same capabilities that enable them to be used in patios and other outdoor areas. However, using them would require professional installation and a little bit more when it comes to costs.

Difficult to Repair

Hardwood floors can be refinished when their surface becomes dull, and this is not true for laminate flooring. They can be a hassle to fix, usually involving replacing the entire plank or several of them to effect any decent repairs. Besides, even if the repairs are managed, the wear and tear on the older planks may not match those of the new ones.

Laminate Flooring Layers

Laminate Flooring Layers

Actual laminates mean that the finished product is composed of several layers of different materials and densities that are bonded together to form a stable and durable plank. Laminate flooring is made up of several layers of compressed material that averages around 12mm of thickness, relatively thinner than any plank used for flooring.

Backing

This layer provides structural integrity and stability, and more importantly, a protective barrier against moisture. This is often the most hardened layer that will absorb whatever weight is applied on the plank.

Inner Core

A layer that is usually made up of compressed fibers from either wood or plastic materials and is strengthened by resin for a stronger bond.

Design/Photographic Applique Layer

This is where the visible part of the laminate is placed; it could be an image of wood, stone, or even ceramic tiling. Sometimes the photos are textured, adding realism and accuracy to the laminated plank. 

Wear/Protective Layer

This is the layer that bears the brunt of daily wear and tear, especially foot traffic, and is made up of a robust, clear finish that is resistant to stain, wear, and to fade. In most cases, the coating also has built-in UV protection as well as an aluminum oxide that makes the coat extremely durable. 

What Is Engineered Hardwood Flooring

While laminates have a large percentage of recyclable plastics mixed in with the wood fibers, engineered hardwood is still almost 100% wood. Yes, engineered hardwood is also layered, but the layers are plywood, bonded with a super-strong resin or glue.

This makes engineered wood extremely resistant to fluctuations in moisture levels as well as temperatures. When typical hardwood floors are subjected to these, they can be deformed and lose their structural integrity.

Another difference between a laminate and an engineered hardwood plank is that an engineered hardwood does not contain an image but rather an actual thin slice of wood on top that shows the species of the wood being represented on the engineered wood.

All this accuracy comes at a price, therefore making engineered hardwood a slightly pricier option than laminate flooring. However, even if this was the case, engineered hardwood is still way below the pricing of genuine hardwood. 

Benefits of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Putting aside the obvious benefits of engineered hardwood in terms of installation as well as its acquisition costs, there are a lot of other significant characteristics why builders often go for this ‘sweet spot’ of flooring. This type of material for flooring retains the beauty of solid hardwood planks, without its cost and inherent problems with temperature and moisture.

Layers Give It Strength

The layers that comprise engineered hardwood are mostly fiberboard and plywood of varying densities, bonded and compressed with a durable resin and adhesive. Aside from being structurally sound, the resulting plank also is even more resistant to warping caused by sudden changes in temperatures and moisture.

The compressed layer of either fiberboard or plywood underneath an engineered hardwood plank is resistant to warping, and this is a win over natural hardwood.

Pre-Fabricated Convenience

Because it comes pre-cut and pre-fabricated, engineered wood can easily be installed, and with the more popular fold-and-lock method of installation gaining popularity, it is even easier with modern engineered wood planks. Stapling and nailing are also among the most popular ways of putting them in place, and they are equally straightforward to do as well. This considerably helps bring down installation costs.

Lower Costs

Natural hardwood, including installation, will cost the homeowner an arm and a leg and has that added cost of knowing you are not helping out mother nature at all. Engineered hardwood costs much lower per square meter, and that is installation included. Its pre-fabricated nature allows it to be installed far quicker than any other flooring, lowering down labor costs and saving you time in the process as well.

Aesthetically Indistinguishable From Real Hardwood

Engineered hardwood is steel wood, with the addition of some adhesive and resins, but it is still wood through and through. That thin layer of veneer is natural wood taken from whatever species the customer would want to install in his or her rooms. For this reason, engineered wood looks and feels almost exactly like the real thing, because it is the real deal, just improved.

Pros and Cons of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Pros and Cons of Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Pros

More Durable Than Natural Hardwood

That layered combination of veneer, multiple plywood densities, and strong and durable resins make the planks of engineered hardwood more durable than its natural counterpart. Manufacturers often offer warranties of no less than ten years on the longevity of their products and even last up to 80 years if proper maintenance and care are exercised.

Resistant to Moisture Absorption

This type of flooring is made to be resistant to varying moisture in its environment and allows very little to get into its fibers, thus adding to the years by delaying rot and changes in dimension. Engineered hardwood will always come out on top relative to solid hardwood floors when it comes to moisture absorption. Solid wood will almost certainly warp when soaked with water.

Dimensionally Stable

The planks are carefully engineered to be as inert and as stable as possible no matter what the temperature or humidity surrounding them changes. These engineered hardwood flooring will not warp or be contorted into other shapes by these factors, making them ideal for heating or cooling. 

Availability of Designs and Species

Because they are custom-designed, there is almost an endless variety of designs, stains, and combinations to choose from. Even rare species of wood that will give a room that unique and distinct appearance can be easily acquired or simply made available.

Looks and Feels Identical to Natural Hardwood

The characteristics of engineered hardwood are similar to the naturally harvested one that it would almost feel like you are cheating because of the wide gap in pricing. Furthermore, you get that look without also inheriting the weaknesses of natural hardwood flooring.

Can Be Easily Repaired

Because it is wood, its care is almost precisely like that of natural hardwood flooring. While the surface can be dulled with wear and tear, it can be sanded and refinished back to its original state. This adds to the value of the installation.

Cons

Prone to Being Dulled

The same problems to a natural hardwood flooring can occur to an engineered hardwood plank, particularly the surface, and can be dulled in a few years. It is, however, possible to revitalize its look by adding another layer of varnish or finish and bring it back to its original shine.

Not Wholly Immune to the Elements

The engineered hardwood flooring is composed of natural wood fibers, so it can rot and decay if not properly cared for. Its organic composition means that it can only delay these natural phenomena, but can still succumb to them.

Not as DIY Friendly as Laminate

When improperly installed, water and moisture can seep through the gaps, and make the bottom layers swell. This would cause warping and damage your flooring. This is the reason why engineered hardwood flooring needs to be installed by a professional.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Layers

Manufactured wood can only be made by compressing together several layers of wood fiber, resin, and plywood, resulting in pre-fabricated planks that are suitable for flooring applications. This man-made flooring has two main components, with several layers in between them that are designed to provide maximum strength and dimensional stability.

Bottom and Core Layers

The bottom and core layers number in between 3-12 sheets of varying densities of plywood. These are typically made of compressed material and are glued together, forming an extra-strong and stable platform for the layer above.

Veneer

This layer is also referred to as the wear layer, which means that this is the layer that you can see and, therefore, the one that will be subjected to wear and tear. This layer contains a slice of natural wood, where the desired design and texture is displayed.

This layer comes in different thicknesses, the thicker the layer, the higher value the planks will provide. Thicker wear layers mean that as the finish dulls down, it can be sanded, and another layer can be applied, making the whole plank as good as new.

Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring Differences

Before taking sides, know that engineered hardwood flooring and laminate flooring both address the shortcomings of naturally harvested hardwood, and they apply to specific needs and particular situations.

Each one fills a specific need that the other material may not be able to, engineered hardwood may be superior in one aspect and yet be inferior in another one that laminate can easily overcome. 

Durability

In terms of wear and tear, both engineered hardwood and laminate flooring have an advantage over natural hardwood. Laminates, however, are the toughest because of their compressed layers, as well as a top wear layer. Most laminates now have aluminum oxides integrated into their top wear layer, making them even more resistant to wear than ever before.

Engineered hardwood is an improved version of natural wood flooring, especially in terms of moisture absorption, as well as resistance to changes in temperature. Engineered hardwood, however, has the same finish on its top layer because it is primarily still wood. The advantage is that it can be repolished once or twice, depending on the veneer’s thickness.

Construction and Comfort

Both types of artificial flooring are made of composite layers of varying densities of materials and do not have that super solid feel of traditional and naturally harvested hardwood. However, both feel sturdy under your feet. Laminate’s tough and wear layer is exceptionally resistant to heavy foot traffic and even the constant attention of sharp nails from pets.

Water Resistance

Advances in manufacturing technology significantly improved both water resistance ratings of engineered hardwood and laminates; however, this is not to say that you can submerge these floorings in water. Because engineered hardwood is still mostly wood, they can suffer the same fate as what happens to natural hardwood to a small degree.

Engineered hardwood can experience swelling when exposed to water and damage the planks.  What this means is that moisture and humidity are still factors to consider when looking at hardwood flooring as potential material for your floors.

Laminates are a different story and exhibit more resistance to moisture than its engineered hardwood counterpart. Some companies even manufacture fully waterproof laminate flooring but may require professional installation. It is inherent to laminate flooring to be superior in terms of water resistance by virtue of the materials used in its layers, which includes plastic and recyclable materials and resin.

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning, the fewer bumps and grooves, the easier it is to clean. Laminates are the easiest to clean between these two as they only have a smooth surface, which makes them clean with just a wipe.

Furthermore, you can also clean your flooring with a laminate vacuum that is specially designed to clean this type of flooring. In addition, there is also a tried and true mopping process of laminate floors.

Engineered hardwood will have those textures that will make sure that you exert an effort to clean them up, just like solid hardwood. A number of specialized cleaning equipment like the best hardwood steam mop together with a hardwood flooring vacuuming can easily make an engineered hardwood clean. One advantage of an engineered hardwood floor in this area is that it can be refinished at least once or twice in its lifetime, whereas laminates cannot.

Price

When it comes to how these two products are priced, the laminate flooring trumps over the engineered hardwood because it is one of the most affordable materials for flooring that not only looks great but is durable as well. On top of that, laminate is not only cheap to acquire but can also be easily installed and rarely need professional help. 

Laminate costs between $2 and $4 per square foot while engineered hardwood costs around $4 and $7 per square foot. Engineered hardwood may be relatively more expensive than laminates, but when you compare them to solid hardwood flooring, which can cost up to $15 per square foot, their pricing becomes quite an attractive option. 

Installation and DIY

Laminate, true to its reputation as a low-cost flooring material, is also one of the easiest to install, even for those without experience in building. They are usually installed as a floating floor with interlocking planks that click and hold together in a place like a giant puzzle. However, should you choose to have it installed professionally, expect to shell out between $2-$7per square foot.

Engineered hardwood can be installed in much the same way as solid hardwood where it can be nailed, glued, or installed as a floating floor like a laminate. However, engineered hardwood can be ruined if not installed properly and its moisture retention properties can be compromised, making them prone to moisture absorption.

Gluing and nailing may require additional equipment and skill to pull off, and it is recommended to have engineered hardwood installed by professionals instead. This will set you back around $3-$10 per square foot when installed professionally.

Care and Maintenance

Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood Care and Maintenance

The smooth wear layer of the laminate flooring makes it super easy just to wipe clean, and the Mannington laminate flooring maintenance is even more convenient because the laminate surface does not trap dust like carpets and other textured floorings. Specially formulated cleaning equipment and chemicals are also available to make sure they are squeaky clean.

Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, requires special cleaners in much the same way as a solid hardwood floor does. Some even need to enhance cleaning with a hardwood mop to maintain it spotless.

To maintain how they look and depending on the thickness of the veneer top layer, an engineered hardwood plank can be refinished once or twice in their lifetime, making them one of the longer-lasting floors in a home and some are rated to last for up to 80 years in a home.

Moisture Resistance

Laminates are a combination of multiple layers of recyclable plastic materials and wood fibers bonded together with durable adhesive and resin, and they generally exhibit more moisture resistance than their engineered wood counterpart. When properly installed, some can even be almost waterproof. Engineered wood also shows moisture resistance but only when compared to its solid hardwood counterpart. Extra care should be taken, especially in making sure that the floor upon which the laminate or the engineered hardwood flooring will be installed on is free from moisture to ensure the longevity of the flooring.

Repairs

In this regard, the way a laminate is installed offers an advantage wherein if a plank is damaged, it can be quite easy to replace. A laminate plank, once damaged, can only be replaced and not repaired. An engineered hardwood plank can be refinished or repaired once or twice in its lifetime, making them last a few years more than their intended lifespan.

There are challenges, though, because when you repair a portion of the flooring, it might not look like the rest of the planks, and this applies to both laminate and engineered hardwood flooring.

Colors and Styles

Both laminate and hardwood flooring are kings when it comes to the availability of varieties and designs. The engineered hardwood is relatively limited in comparison to laminate because it still needs natural wood on the surface, and that veneer will still come off a natural species of the tree it is supposed to emulate.

Laminates, on the other hand, are not restricted in any way as their colors and design are simply printed high-quality and textured images that sit below the wear layer. This allows the laminates to have an infinite number of colors and designs at their disposal.

Environmentally Friendly

There are many who claim that both laminate and engineered hardwood are not as eco-friendly as they are hyped up to be citing their manufacturing process and the chemicals involved.

The fact remains that they consume fewer trees and therefore have a huge impact on natural tree harvesting figures. This is always a plus in the bid to preserve the environment. Laminates are made up of 85% recyclable materials, adding to the eco-friendliness of these products.

In terms of VOCs or the production of harmful emissions inside the home is concerned, go for those products that have certification as those are the only way to ensure that a product is safe to bring inside the home.

Pets

When it comes to pets, the primary concern is the amount of wear and tear that they will cause on the flooring, especially those with sharp nails. Laminate is particularly resistant to this, although one should watch out for those with larger and heavier pets.

Because of their tough outerwear layer, laminates are the top choice for those with pets. Laminate is also quite forgiving for accidental spills that constantly happen with having pets. This is not the case with engineered hardwood as spills and accidents may not be easily washed off as they absorb into the plywood layers underneath.

The topmost layer of engineered hardwood is still natural wood and dog and cat nails as they go along will not be as forgiving on that surface.

Radiant Heating

Both laminate and engineered hardwood are excellent choices for installing over radiant heating. The only thing to watch out for would be the thickness, especially with engineered hardwood. It is important to note that radiant floor heating works especially well when the flooring is done in a floating style installation where the radiant heating coils sit snugly between the sub-floor and the flooring. 

Resale Value

Laminate is widely popular for being a low-cost option and this is not a great way to add value to a home no matter if the flooring is brand new. Laminates may not be the winner if you want to add the resale value of a home.

Engineered wood will considerably increase the value of a home just with its installation almost as much as hardwood does. A properly installed engineered hardwood flooring can last up to 80 years, along with proper maintenance and that has a very high appeal to home buyers.

Laminate and Engineered Hardwood Cost

Laminate and Engineered Hardwood Cost

One of the primary reasons why these two alternatives exist is because of the cost of natural hardwood flooring, both out of pocket and the harm it causes the environment.

They are not only designed to be better than natural hardwood in terms of durability, but they are also engineered to be as cost-effective as possible so that more people will be able to afford them. These make engineered wood and laminate flooring very affordable and relatively straightforward to install. 

Between laminate and engineered hardwood, laminate is the most affordable. Engineered hardwood flooring costs a little bit more but still way affordable than solid hardwood flooring.

Consumers win, but the biggest winner is the environment because laminate is 85% recyclable and engineered hardwood only uses a very thin slice of natural wood instead of consuming entire trees.

How to Install Laminate Flooring

One of the reasons why laminate flooring is very popular among homebuilders is because of how straightforward it is to install. Below is a step by step guide on the easy installation of this type of flooring.

Step 1 – Choose a starting wall and prepare the starter planks

Once a starting wall is identified, preferably an exterior wall as it has the highest likelihood of being straight and square with the room. Choose the laminates that will go against the wall and cut their tongues out using a table saw. For uneven walls, trace out their contours with a compass and cut with a jigsaw.

Step 2 – Assemble and align the starter row

Align the first planks with their tongue side facing the wall and ensure that the joints are closed. Making sure that the expansion gaps are evenly spaced, secure these starter planks because they will dictate the alignment of the rest of the laminate planks.

Step 3 – Cut for the new rows

Make sure that the rows have a 12” joint offset on each row. Cut the first plank on each row in at least 8” long each and start new rows from the pieces.

Step 4 – Install the rest of the planks

Install the rest of the planks along with the established pattern of the starter and the second row making sure to check for the gap along the walls of the perimeter.

Step 5 – Apply sealant

Apply a flexible silicone sealant along the entire perimeter to create a water-resistant seal and allow for at least 6 hours before opening the newly installed flooring to foot traffic.

 

How to Install Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring can be installed in three recommended ways and that includes floating, gluing, and nailing or stapling. Be mindful of what the manufacturer has to say about the installation of the product that you have, so it is very important to read through the included literature before the first drop of glue or the first nail can be hammered in. Regardless of what installation method you will use, the two steps below need to be done first.

Step 1 – Prepare the subfloor

Preparation of the subfloor is key to a successful installation of any type of flooring and regardless of the method of installation you choose for your engineered hardwood flooring, the subfloor must be prepared. Start by sweeping off any debris and go down to smoothing out any bumps on the surface to ensure that it is flat and even.

Step 2 – Acclimate engineered hardwood planks

Open the engineered hardwood packages and air out the hardwood planks on site for at least 48 hours prior to installation. This would allow the planks to acclimate and will not be prone to warping or bucking once installation begins.

Floating Installation Method

Step 1 – Apply underlayment

After prepping and airing out the hardwood planks, lay down the manufacturer-recommended underlayment for the engineered hardwood floating floors and the recommended minimum thickness is ⅛” and a 2.0 density rating.

Step 2 – Allow for gaps

A gap of ½” must be maintained along the edges of the engineered hardwood planks to allow them space to contract without buckling; these include whatever existing fixtures there are inside the room. 

Step 3 – Apply glue to the grooves

Apply the correct amount of glue to the grooves to ensure that waterproof laminate is moisture-resistant. The recommended beading size of the glue is 3/32” as when the groove is overfilled with glue; it can be difficult to lock and close.

Step 4 – Install planks

Always start installing the planks from the left-hand corner of the room and parallel to the longest wall of the room. Lay down three planks with the groove side facing the wall and hold them together with painters tape and gently tap them together on the tongue side. Put in the spacers and tap them together for a snug fit. These starting planks will be the basis for installing the rest of the flooring if the alignment is satisfactory,  install the rest of the planks.

Glue Down Installation Method

Step 1 – Select the place to start

It is highly recommended to start the placement of the engineered hardwood planks relative to an exterior wall because they are most likely straight and square with the entirety of the room. The wall that you selected will be referred to as the starter wall.

Step 2 – Spread the adhesive evenly

Spread the appropriate adhesive ( based on the manufacturer’s recommendation) to the starter wall using the recommended trowel size at a 45-degree angle. The correct size and the correct angle will ensure a proper and even bond, preventing hollow spots.

Step 3 – Start the installation

Install the starter planks with the tongue facing the starter wall and secure them into position once they are aligned properly. These starter planks should either be secured by nails or pins (depending on whether the subfloor is concrete or wood) because it’s important that the alignment remains undisturbed as you install the rest of the planks. Place the planks on top and press on instead of sliding them in as this may cause an uneven buildup of adhesive.

Step 4 – Clean excess adhesive

It is important to clean off the excess adhesive with a damp cloth before it completely dries off as it will be quite difficult to get rid of once they dry.

Staple or Nail Installation Method

Step 1 – Select the proper floor stapler or nailer

This should be easy enough to find by following the recommendations of the manufacturer, as indicated on the labels or literature of the engineered hardwood planks. This also involves choosing the right adapter for the thickness of the planks.

Step 2 – Installation of the polyethylene layer

Before laying down any planks, install a 6-mil Polyethylene layer completely covering the subflooring and install parallel to the direction of the flooring and allow for a 3-inch overhang at the perimeter. 

Step 3 – Install the flooring

Choose the starter wall and lay down the starting planks and ensure their alignment. Secure the starter planks once the alignment is done, making sure that an allowance is made for the expansion spaces. Measurement is again found along with the manufacturers’ recommendation and start laying down the planks at a 90-degree angle relative to the floor joists. Continue installing the rest of the planks by nailing or stapling at 1” or 2” from the ends and 4”-6” along the sides until finished.

 

How to Maintain Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring systems are rated to have a useful lifespan of 10-30 years when properly installed and cared for. This step by step guide will help ensure that your flooring will last for years with minimal wear and tear to show for it.

Step 1 – Regularly clean debris

Sweep the floor regularly with a soft-bristle broom or a vacuum to remove any particles that may be abrasive to the surface of the flooring

Step 2 – Place rugs or mats in strategic places

Place rugs or mats in high-traffic areas to prevent dirt and debris from being dragged across the flooring surface

Step 3 – Place soft pads to the furniture bases

Place padding on furniture legs to prevent them from damaging the floor, especially when being moved around or being relocated.

Step 4 – Keep pets’ claws trimmed

While laminate flooring is quite durable, making sure that pets claws or nails are well-trimmed can go a long way in protecting the floor surface from suffering unnecessary damage from having unkempt pets. 

Step 5 – Place drip pans on indoor plants

Place pans underneath potted indoor plants to make sure no water seepage will occur as you water them.

Step 6 – Use only mild cleaners

Clean the surface with a well wrung-out mop with warm water and a recommended laminate cleaning solution recommended by its manufacturer. This will prevent damage done unintentionally by leaving out harsh chemical cleaners.

 

How to Maintain Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered hardwood floorings are still wood and cleaning hacks and guidelines that usually apply to solid hardwood flooring actually apply to them. Poor maintenance often is the leading cause of long-term damage to these otherwise easy to maintain flooring. Check out the guide below on caring for an installed engineered hardwood flooring.

Step 1 – Use mats and rugs

Ensure that there are rugs on entry points and mats on high traffic areas to trap any hard and abrasive particles from getting in and damaging the flooring.

Step 2 – Install felt pads on furniture

Moving and rearranging furniture around is a major cause of unsightly scratches on flooring. Having felt pads installed on their feet will go a long way in preventing floor scratches.

Step 3 – Clean accidental spills immediately

Blot out liquid spills immediately and never let them sit for a long time on an engineered hardwood flooring as they may seep into the bottom layers and cause the planks to swell. 

Step 4 – Keep an eye on pets

Make sure that your pet’s nails are well-groomed so that they do not scratch the floor needlessly when they become excited, while keeping an eye on them may seem impossible, trimming their nails does not take a lot of effort and yet goes a long way in making sure your floors are scratch-free.

Step 5 – Use hardwood cleaning oils regularly

Mop your engineered hardwood flooring with cleaning oils at least once or twice a year to maintain the right amount of moisture in the wood as well as maintain a protective coating to the surface.

Step 6 – Never forego small repairs

Because its top layer is made up of a veneer of real wood, it can be lightly sanded down and refinished; if there is a particularly nasty scratch, take the time to repair these as keeping them in that state may lead to larger blemishes.

 

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

In general, especially with home flooring, you get what you pay for. However, proper research and proper installation will enable you to get your money’s worth. What this means is that paying for a more expensive type of flooring will not produce a beautiful result if the installation is not properly done and goes the same way with the cheapest quality flooring that lasts a lifetime because it is properly installed.

Do’s and Don’ts With Laminate Flooring

Just like any other home installation project, there are things that you absolutely must do or not do with laminate flooring, here is a list of them.

Do’s

  • Choose the recommended thickness and material for the underlayment for maximum protection against moisture 
  • Read installation instructions carefully
  • Ensure that the subfloor is prepared carefully with emphasis on being clean and even
  • Leave an expansion gap in the perimeter of the flooring, following the measurements stated in the installation instructions
  • Keep the flooring free of debris and dust
  • Use protective pads on furniture feet
  • Trim pet’s nails to minimize surface scratches
  • Use good quality rugs and mats

Don’ts

  • Never install laminate flooring over old carpeting
  • Do not refinish or attempt to sand your laminate surface
  • Do not use mop and shine products 
  • Do not flood the floor while cleaning

Do’s and Don’ts With Engineered Hardwood Flooring

This type of hardwood flooring is among the most popular flooring across the homes in the world because of its beauty, warmth, and affordability. Knowing how to take care of it will go a long way in making sure that it maintains its look throughout the years.

Do’s

  • Add furniture feet padding or protectors
  • Use high-quality rugs and mats and place them in strategic places
  • Regularly sweep and clean the floors to avoid dirt from being used as abrasives
  • Use gentle and mild cleaning chemicals to clean stains
  • Keep a steady temperature

Don’ts

  • Do not let moisture or a pool of water sit on the flooring for more than a minute
  • Never use hot water as it may needlessly expand and contract the layers underneath the veneer
  • Never use abrasive cleaning methods such as steel wool when cleaning the surface

FAQ About Laminate and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Which is more durable laminate or engineered hardwood?

When it comes to durability, especially against daily wear and tear, laminates are considered superior because they are mostly plastic as opposed to engineered hardwood, which is manufactured but is still natural wood on the surface. Relative to solid hardwood, though, an engineered hardwood flooring will still have superior moisture resistance as well as not prone to warping due to temperature changes.

Which is more expensive laminate or engineered hardwood?

Laminates are the most economical choice when it comes to flooring and the main reason is that it is mainly made up of 85% recyclable materials. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is still mostly wood, and is virtually indistinguishable from natural hardwood when installed. Engineered hardwood will also raise the value of a home considerably, hence the price premium.

Do engineered wood floors scratch easily?

Engineered hardwood flooring technology has gone a long way from early versions and they have become even more durable today. Modern coatings today allow these floorings to be even more resistant to daily wear and tears especially if maintained properly.

Conclusion

So which flooring is superior? Each flooring caters to specific needs, as well as specific areas in our homes and it really boils down to what we need. What this means is that while being made entirely of different materials, both are solid choices and are worthy of being installed in any home. Needs and budget aside, know that as you keep these two flooring options in mind, they are also more sustainable and eco-friendly than any natural hardwood floor will ever be.

Photos from: stockasso / depositphotos.com, maxxyustas / depositphotos.com, Foto_vika / depositphotos.com and phillyo77 / depositphotos.com.