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Laminate Floor vs. Engineered Hardwood: How to Choose

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathleen in Rhode Island who’s doing some decorating and needs some help choosing floors. How can we help you?

    KATHLEEN: Ah, there are so many choices. We’re looking at laminate, engineered and hardwood. What do you suggest? I have one concrete floor, which is the walk-out basement. And then it’s the first and the second floor. First is main living area and second is bedroom.

    TOM: Well, in the basement, you can’t use solid hardwood; you can only use engineered hardwood or the laminate because it’s too damp.

    LESLIE: Right. And the laminate’s probably the better choice.

    KATHLEEN: But what about wear and tear? That’s the other thing. Laminate cannot ever be sanded. You need to rip it out and redo it when engineered can be.

    TOM: Well, I’ve got probably 10 years on the laminate floor in my kitchen and 3 kids that grew up on it. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s pretty tough stuff.

    KATHLEEN: And now there are different degrees of laminate, too, no?

    TOM: There’s different finishes, there’s different durability. There’s a test called a Taber Abrasion Test that’s done on laminate surfaces. It’s also done on the finish of hardwood surfaces. And that’s what determines how durable they are.

    So, as long as you – if there’s an option in the quality of finish from something that’s maybe designed for residential or commercial, I’d always go with the tougher one.

    LESLIE: Right. Well, Kathleen, in my home, our basement is where my kids hang out, it’s my workspace. And I put a laminate floor down there and I chose one that has a beautiful grain to it. It looks like a hardwood. And then I’ve used area rugs to sort of warm it up and make it feel more homey. But it’s super-durable. I had a plumbing issue go awry and lots of water underneath it and it didn’t buckle, bend. I was able to dry it all out and keep it really, really in good shape. So I’m all for a laminate in a lower level.

    Now, when it comes to your main floor and your bedroom area, I’d be more inclined to lean toward an engineered hardwood or a hardwood, depending on your budget and depending on the aesthetic. You know, you can go with – if your concern is wear and tear and refinishing, you can go with a commercial-grade finish. It’s going to be a little bit more costly but it’s going to allow that hardwood to really stand up.

    The other option to consider is in your entrance foyers or places where you come in and out, like a mud room, go laminate again in there or do a tile or a marble or something that will be more easily cleanable, more durable, just to handle that type of wear and – wear situation.

    Now, I personally, on a second floor and even in living spaces – you say you’re by the salt water. I imagine you have a certain sort of design style that could be sort of – I’m guessing like a traditional but contemporary at the same time, since you’re on the water. And wider planks are very popular now.

    KATHLEEN: Yes, I agree. They’re very attractive.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They’re very attractive. You can go for a plank that has some sort of a hand-scraping detail to it that looks a little more age-y and more worn and – but still be durable.

    KATHLEEN: OK. And so you’re comfortable with that for a full living space? The laminate.

    TOM: Alright, good, we talked you into it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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