Laminate and Engineered floors are two of the most popular flooring options in the UK, thanks to their beauty and versatility. In this article, we'll explain the differences between the two types of floor to help you decide which is best for you.
Materials and Design
Engineered wood floors are made from a thin layer of hardwood which is then backed with several layers of softwood or plywood. The multiple supporting layers are hidden and give the boards support and strength, whilst the surface you walk on is pure, unadulterated solid wood. This means that engineered floors look, feel and sound just like solid wood floors, but are a lot more versatile.
Laminate floors are made mostly from High Density Fibreboard (HDF). The boards are topped with an ultra-realistic photographic layer, which is then coated and sealed in with a tough, scratch resistant surface. The photographic layer is what gives the floors its particular look, so laminate boards can appear to be made from any type of wood or even stone. This is what makes laminate floors incredibly versatile when it comes to design
Engineered floors have a surface of natural wood which has either been oiled or lacquered. Whilst these treatments help protect the wood against splashes, engineered floors aren't considered water resistant. Because of this, engineered floors aren't built for bathrooms or kitchens, where there's a lot of splashes and steam.
Laminate floors, meanwhile, are coated in a water resistant wear layer on top, which makes them suitable for rooms where they might get splashed, like a kitchen. However, the joints in between laminate boards aren't waterproof, so if water is left to sit for a long time it can cause warping. There are, however, some laminate floors which are fully waterproof such as Quickstep Majestic, Quickstep Impressive and Quickstep Eligna making them suitable bathroom laminates, where steam and puddles are to be expected.
Wood is tough and long lasting, but that doesn't mean it can't be scratched. Engineered floors are just as resistant to scratches as any other piece of wood. The good news is that if scratches and dents build up over time, the surface can be sanded down and refinished, which will make the floor look as good as new.
The tough wear layer on the surface of laminate floors is designed to resist scratches and dents. Whilst we still wouldn't recommend dragging heavy furniture across them, the boards are certainly well equipped to deal with anything from dragging trainers to birthday party stampedes. Unlike Engineered floors, there's no way to renew the surface of a laminate floor, so if a board gets badly damaged it will have to be taken up and replaced.
Both engineered and laminate floors are installed with what's called a ‘floating floor’ system. This is where the subfloor is covered by an underlay, and then the boards are laid on top, clicking together for a stable, seamless surface. Whilst different floors may have slightly different systems, they all use the same basic design, which makes installation quick and easy. If you're looking for a DIY job, both engineered and laminate floors are the perfect tools for the job.
Engineered floors are cleverly designed to allow real wood floors to be installed in areas with dramatic temperature changes. Underfloor heating, conservatories and basements – engineered flooring is suitable for all of them. Engineered floors are still vulnerable to water though, so caution should be used in kitchens to protect them from scratches and we'd advise against using them in your bathroom, where steam and moisture are unavoidable.
Laminate floors are just as resistant to heat and slightly more water resistant. Kitchens shouldn't be a problem for any of our laminate floors, as long as you make sure not to leave puddles sitting on the surface, which can eventually seep into the gaps between the boards. Laminate boards may be water resistant, but they're not waterproof, so we wouldn't recommend using them in bathrooms. Unless, of course, you use one of Quickstep's waterproof laminate floors, such as the Impressive and Majestic range.