While combing the internet I came across this article and HAD to share!! Hopefully this will help a lot of people to know the differences between these 3 products and more importantly the pros and cons of each! ENJOY!
Solid Wood vs. Engineered Wood vs. Laminate: THE BATTLE ROYALE
In this corner, composed of 100 percent wood, priced at $3 to $10/square foot, and adding as much as $10,000 in value to the value of your home is… hardwood. In another, consisting of fiberboard and a durable wear layer, priced at $3 to $7/square foot, but adding considerably less value to your home is… laminate. And in still another, boasting elements of pure wood coupled with almost as much stability of laminate is… engineered wood. Each has its positive and negative attributes. Before outfitting your home in one over another, it’s important to understand the differences. Only then can you make a truly informed decision regarding what material is right for you. Durability depends more on the finish one puts on the base wood than the makeup of the base itself.
Solid wood floors are just that — 100 percent solid wood. Not only are they stunning and elegant but they’re also one of the best ways to increase a home’s value. In fact, a recent survey of U.S. realtors revealed that installing hardwood floors can increase your home’s value by as much as $10,000!
Wood floors are versatile — they can complement virtually any aesthetic — provide acoustic insulation, and can be refinished multiple times. They only improve with age, as solid wood acquires a desirable shine over time. Solid wood is among the longest lasting of all flooring types but normally cannot be installed directly over concrete. However, the flooring expands and contracts due to changes in humidity. The wider the wood the more expansion or contraction will occur. Although installers try to compensate for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall, most experts agree that you may be better off going with engineered wood for kitchens, bathrooms or laundry rooms.
Engineered wood has a top layer of solid wood, which varies in thickness, depending upon the quality; the balance is high quality layered hardwood. They’re available either unfinished or pre-finished in a range of colors and provide the same design flexibility and style as solid wood; unfortunately, they also carry the same price tag. The better makes of engineered wood have a slice cut face and are longer, up to 7 feet in length.
Although all hardwood floors will expand and contract due to moisture, engineered wood fares much better. And while solid wood floors may expand or contract slightly with age, engineered floors won’t. All things equal, engineered flooring has a slight advantage over solid — particularly in regions where humidity changes are a constant, as they’re dimensionally stable. In addition, they may be installed above, on, or even below ground level.
However, unlike solid wood, some engineered wood floors can only be refinished once or twice. Others cannot be refinished at all. The deciding factor is the thickness of the wear layer. In addition, it’s arguable whether engineered wood will increase the value of your home as much as solid wood.
Prefinished or Custom
Once you’ve decided upon solid or engineered wood, your next dilemma is pre-finished or custom. Pre-finished wood arrives at your home ready to install. Custom wood flooring, on the other hand, is installed, sanded or scraped, and finished on site. It affords homeowners the opportunity to create something truly unique — something no other homeowner could replicate. With custom wood flooring, you can create a one-of-a-kind floor that reflects your family’s personal taste. You pay for this specialization, of course, but for truly distinguishing tastes, there’s nothing like custom wood.
Laminates consist of a base, usually mdf or hdf fiberboard, topped with a print and then a wear layer. They’re usually cheaper, and make excellent do-it-yourself projects, as they’re easy to install. Many are installed by placing interlocking boards over a layer of foam, which prevents buckling in the floor and absorbs sound. Laminate floors are extremely durable, scratch-resistant, and long-lasting.
However, laminates cannot be refinished or recoated, add less value to your home than solid or engineered wood and, quite simply, don’t have the same “character” as wood. Thanks to a pre-printed pattern, some (or maybe all) of the boards may appear identical. But the best quality laminates can result in beautiful floors that really do have the appearance of hardwood flooring.
And the Winner Is…
On pier and beam construction: A solid wood floor.
On Slab construction: An engineered wood floor
For a quick and inexpensive option: Laminate floors
Cost aside, most experts believe that engineered hardwood is the way to go. However, both solid and laminate woods have their own positive and negative attributes. One thing’s for certain — there’s nothing quite like the look of hardwood floors to give beauty and distinction to a home.