We’ve all heard about these kinds of floors but let’s be honest, if you’re not a contractor, a decorator or builder you’re likely unsure about the real differences.
So, what is the difference between a laminate, hardwood and an engineered hardwood floor?
The answer: 3 simple parts!
Laminate is durable, cost-effective and comes in a variety of colours, textures and sizes.
It’s very versatile! The core of product is typically made of High Density Fiber (HDF) as opposed to actual slabs of wood. The top layer is a photographic layer which is designed to mimic the look you’re going for i.e. hardwood, bamboo, knotted wood, etc. Laminate planks are typically 3/8” thick and are installed using a tongue and groove locking system, meaning you can install or uninstall with ease.
It’s the most durable and easiest to clean (read: it can handle the most abuse).
When you walk on it, you hear a shallow tap.
Hardwood floors are made from solid, natural wood and depending on the kind of floor you want, you can purchase a variety of wood species.
The entire plank is made from wood, it is the only material used in the manufacturing of hardwood floors. Modern hardwood is typically made with a tongue and groove system for easy installation . Hardwood floor is easy to sand and refinish, and requires a healthy amount of maintenance to keep them looking great. They are easier to damage than the two other floor types discussed here though, so buyer beware. Not only do they dent easier (i.e. if you walk with stilettos or drop a heavy object on the floor you’ll see dents), they cannot be left wet or else they’ll become damaged (the boards will swell and expand).
Hardwood flooring is almost always more expensive but no one can argue how gorgeous it looks or feels when you walk on it.
The best way to describe engineered hardwood flooring is to think of it like a hybrid car; it’s a little bit of laminate and a little bit of hardwood.
It’s core is usually plywood or high-density fibreboard (HDF) and the top layer is composed of a of hardwood veneer which is glued atop the core to mimic nearly any species of hardwood. Engineered hardwood has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer (which is what you get with laminate). The reason people tend to choose engineered hardwood over natural hardwood is garner greater moisture and heat resistance because of the core material.
Despite the differences, all of these floor types can be cared for the exact same way.
Use a simple solution composed of a ‘pinky nail’ sized drop of dish liquid added to a bucket of hot water. Sometimes, I’ll add a capful of plain white vinegar to the mix too, it helps cut dirt. I recommend a microfibre twist mop which is well wrung out to mop the floors. You can also use a steam mop or a flat head mop.