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Laminate vs Engineered Wood Flooring

Laminate vs Engineered Wood Flooring Comparison Details and Facts

by Dylan Johnson

A lot of people often think that laminate is engineered wood, while in reality, there is such a thing as laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison.

It shows that both may share similar traits, but they are also completely two different things.

However, most people would choose either engineered wood or laminate floor when they want to create a floor that looks like solid and real hardwood, without spending a fortune.

Both are the inexpensive version of the hardwood with their own winning quality and flaws.

Make sure that you really know their differences before making a purchase.

Engineered Wood vs Laminate Flooring

Making laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison is crucial because you want to know whether you are making a worthy spending or not.

Laminate floor isn’t for all home owners, and engineered wood isn’t either. Some people may be more comfortable with laminate floor, while some may be more comfortable with engineered wood.

Some may even be okay with both. As long as you know the core deal, then it can be tricky to choose.

Laminate floor is made from materials that are completely man-made. Those materials may come in several layers.

The very base is usually made from fiberboard. Then, a layer of photographic image would be bonded on top of the fiberboard.

Afterwards, a wear layer (usually a transparent one) would be applied on top of the photographic image as protection of the surface.

It is the photographic image that is responsible for the different looks of the floor. Those photo images may imitate wood, stone, or ceramic.

In some brands with more sophisticated technologies, the surface of the floor may come with textures and emboss it is created to deliver a more realistic look to the floor.

From far away, the floor may look like the real thing, but when you come closer, then you will see the real nature.

Engineered wood has a different construction. It has somewhat a more convincing imitation (or replica) of the hardwood because the top surface is truly made from real wood.

You see, a hardwood floor is a solid through and through meaning that the floor is made from 100% wood.

In engineered wood, however, it is only the top surface of the floor that has real wood. A thin layer of hardwood would be applied on top of high-quality plywood.

As a result, the floor has somewhat impressive dimensional stability. In some cases, the application is relatively better than hardwood floor.

Read Also: 7 Undeniable Reasons To Love Laminate Flooring

The General Comparison Laminate vs Engineered Wood

In an overall laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison, there are several significant differences between the two floors.

Here is the total recap:

  • In terms of appearance, engineered wood has real surface of hardwood while in laminate, it is obviously the imitation of wood
  • In terms of cost, laminate floor is totally inexpensive. On the other hand, engineered wood is costlier than laminate floor but cheaper than hardwood
  • In terms of installation, engineered wood come with either glue down method or nail down method. Laminate floor, on the other hand, comes with floating floor mechanism and interlocking edges
  • In terms of professional installation or DIY work, laminate floor is very supportive and accommodative to DIY work, while engineered wood often requires professional installation
  • In terms of resale value, laminate floor isn’t as good as wood. It doesn’t increase the property’s value. But engineered wood has better property’s value.
  • In terms of life expectancy, laminate floor can only last for a decade or two that’s the average measurement. Engineered wood, on the other hand, can last at least 30 years even more.

Those are the general recap of laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison, so we are going to discuss each element further.

Appearance Laminate vs Engineered Wood

In laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison, laminate floor is able to imitate the look of natural elements like stone or wood quite perfectly. But still, it is an obvious replica (of the wood).

However, some brands are able to deliver better quality of laminate that results in deeper and richer emboss that can imitate the texture of wood grain. As a result, the floor may have a better realistic look.

The premium and thicker floor (usually 12mm one) is able to deliver a premium look that resembles wood just perfectly.

As it was mentioned before, engineered wood is made from real wood on the top surface. This is the only advantage.

When you have to inspect these two types of floor, it would be obvious which one is real and which one is ‘fake’.

Verdict: When it comes to realism, engineered wood is definitely better than laminate floor.

Sure, some of the premium (and costlier) laminate floor may have textures and emboss, but they can’t beat the real feel of the engineered wood.

Heat and Water Resistance

Here is another element of laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison. Laminate floor is mostly known as water resistant, but the floor basically has fiberboard core layer.

If there are cracks between the boards or on the floor itself, and water can infiltrate to the inner side, the floor can be seriously damaged.

But then again, the surface is made from plastic and plastic is impervious to moisture. But you will have to wipe any spill or splash right away or the water may cause more damage.

Engineered wood has this tough and powerful surface sealer finish which is generally waterproof.

However, the floor has base layers from plywood and the surface veneer is also from wood. If the floor gets wet, it will warp and swell, for sure.

Verdict: Both floors are tie. Both floors aren’t good for damp and humid locations or areas that are sensitive to humidity and moisture.

Sure, they are sturdier and more durable than hardwood, but it doesn’t mean that these floors are great for humid locations.

If you want to have a long-lasting floor on the bathrooms or basements, it would be better to choose luxury vinyl or ceramic tile.

Maintenance and Durability Laminate vs Engineered Wood

Another laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparisonis about the durability and the maintenance factor. Laminate floor is easier and simpler to care.

Thanks to the plastic surface, you can always wipe it clean easily. But then again, it can’t be refinished. If it becomes bad or damaged, you can only replace or remove it.

On the contrary to laminate floor, engineered wood can be refinished and sanded; minimally one time.

If it has quite thick (never) layer, you can even refinish it in another two or three times more.

Verdict: Both of them are easy to clean and care. But the engineered hardwood comes with super tough and solid finish (on the surface) and it can be refinished, just like the hardwood.

Installation Matter

Most DIYers love laminate flooring because of the ease of installation feature. Thanks to the unique click and lock mechanism, the planks can fit and interlock together.

It comes as a floating floor on top of the foam underlayment, right above the subfloor. If you have small to medium room, it would be possible (and even easy) to complete it within a day.

Engineered wood, on the other hand, needs professional service. It’s true that they are easier than hardwood, but they share the similar installation mechanism as the hardwood.

It means you need to use the nail to secure the floor on the subfloor. If you choose the floating version, you ‘only’ need the glue to attach the floor to the subfloor.

Verdict: When it comes to installation, laminate is better than engineered wood as you can see on this laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison.

Not only it is easy to install, but it is fast and efficient. It may take a while to get used to it, but once you get the hang of it, the rest would be easy.

Cost and Price Laminate vs Engineered Wood

Laminate floor is considered one of the cheapest. The price may range from $1 to $3 a square foot. But if you go with designer brands and premium names, you may have to spend $10 to around $15 a square foot.

Engineered wood generally starts from around $5 a square foot, but the average price is around $8 a square foot. If you prefer high-end brands or designers styles, it may go up to $15 a square foot.

But then again, don’t forget to factor in the professional installation cost. The cost may go for at least $20 a square foot.

Verdict: Laminate floor is the best when it comes to inexpensive and low cost installation.

Not only the laminate floor alone is inexpensive, but the absence of professional installer cost is another thing to like about this floor.


As it was mentioned before, laminate can last up to 10 years to 20 years. Of course, it also depends on the quality and how much wear it gets.

In some occasions, though, some brands are able to last up to 30 years. But this is a rare event.

In engineered wood, the floor can last even longer. It can last for at least 30 years, so you can expect a longer period especially if you can care for it well.

Verdict: Engineered wood has better advantages when compared to laminate floor, in terms of longevity and lifespan.

Sizes Laminate vs Engineered Wood

In general, laminate floor planks are available in between 3 inches and 7 inches in width, while the length is about 48 inches.

Engineered wood floor has various sizes. The width can be super narrow (around 2 ¼ inches) or wider (going to 7 inches) while the lengths can be from 36 inches to 48 inches.

Some styles are even manufactured so you can assemble them with random (board) widths. So, it is more flexible.

Verdict: Both floors are tie. When we view laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison, both of them have flexible arrangements and use.

Resale Value

In general, laminate floor may affect a property’s value in a negative way. However, the high-end and premium floor has better performance and quality.

They have better and higher resale value and they won’t affect the house in a negative way.

Unlike the laminate floor, engineered wood has better resale value. When it comes to prestige, engineered wood has similar feature and benefits as hardwood although it may have the lifespan and longevity of the hardwood.

Verdict: In terms of superiority, the engineered wood is better than laminate flooring. It means that performance and quality are definitely better than laminate.

Sound and Comfort

Laminate floor is usually ‘floating’ on top of the subfloor. Because of its nature, it is possibly flexing underfoot, especially if the underlayment isn’t flat or smooth.

Some home owners also claim that pet nails and heels may damage the plastic surface. But if you use high quality underlayment, it creates softer effect for the foot.

Engineered wood has thicker construction with general glue and nail down mechanism. As a result, it won’t flex.

However, the floor can be a bit harder because it generally doesn’t use any underlayment.

Verdict: Both of the floors are comfortable, but as you can see, each floor has its own significant characteristic and unique trait.

Both are tie laminate floor may be more comfortable when installed on the properly installed underlayment.

Read Also: Waterproof Plastic Laminate Flooring

Top Brands of Both Worlds

Despite the laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison, there are some reliable brands about the two types of floors:

  • Bruce. Armstrong owned the flooring brand for many years, but then they sold it to AIP (American Industrial Partners). They make medium quality products in both laminate and engineered wood. You can find them at big-box retailers and home improvement stores.
  • Shaw Industries. Berkshire Hathaway (a company owned by Warren Buffet) owns it. It is considered a flooring giant providing all kinds of flooring types, such as hardwood, engineered wood, and laminate. You can find them at online retailers or specialty (flooring) store. The price may be a bit higher, but you don’t need to doubt the quality.
  • Mohawk. As a flooring giant, it makes both engineered wood (called TecWood variant) as well as laminate floor (with RevWood line). The floor can imitate the look of hardwood floor just perfectly. You can find them easily at specialty stores.

Those are some facts about the two types of floors. And there are also some brands that are known as the best in producing the products.

Again, the decision about which floor would be perfect for you or not depends on your personal like and needs.

As long as you know the basic laminate vs engineered wood flooring comparison and the characteristic of each floor, you should be able to make an educated decision.