Engineered Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring

There is occasionally some confusion as to whether engineered flooring is real wood flooring or not. For the record, engineered flooring is real wood flooring, a composite of plywood and the veneer species. To recap, the plywood plies are stacked perpendicularly to one another and attached to the underside of the veneer species. This construction compensates for swelling and contraction of wood, and also allows engineered flooring to be installed more places and also so it can be installed utilizing the floating method.

So as we’ve established that it is indeed real wood, let’s talk about the differences between engineered hardwood flooring and laminate flooring. Laminate flooring was invented in 1977 by Pergo, a Swedish company. It can resemble a wide variety of materials, including hardwood and marble, to name a few. It is generally easier to maintain, less susceptible to moisture damage, more dent resistant than hardwood, and can also be floated.

For more information on Laminate flooring, you can check out the Wikipedia article, although, as the warning at the top of the page states, the article is fairly biased. It is obviously written by a laminate dealer or installer, particularly because while it touts all of laminates postive traits, it markedly neglects to mention that laminate is basically a photograph of wood or whatever the target material is (they refer to it as an “decorative applique”, which is oh-so-pretty and French) placed beneath an aluminum oxide finish. (To the article’s credit, there is mention of how the melamine resin that makes up the base material of the laminate can cause health problems as it is compound made with formaldahyde. Yikes.)

But the fact remains: Photoshop flooring, people. It is substantially cheaper, yes, but then, so is a print of the Mona Lisa versus the genuine article.

This is not to say laminate doesn’t make great flooring; it does, especially for those with young children and animals that put floors through quite a bit of abuse. Board replacements will be cheaper, and you will be getting a beautiful floor with many of the qualities of hardwood flooring; laminate will reflect light to create a more expansive feel for a room as well as giving it a cleaner appearance. It also has a leg up on carpet as it doesn’t retain pet dander, dust, and mold, making it a more hypoallergenic flooring option. (Providing the volatile organic compounds released from the formaldehyde binding process don’t compromise your indoor air quality. But I digress.)

So there you have it, a tidy comparison of laminate flooring and engineered flooring.

What are your thoughts about the two flooring formats?

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