The Difference Between Engineered, Hardwood, and Laminate

These three flooring types are very common and each has its merits, but it’s important to understand their differences. Solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, and laminate flooring may appear similar to the naked eye, but they’re very different from one another. So what makes them different? Does it matter which one you choose to use in your home or office? To answer these questions and more, here’s a quick breakdown of each flooring type.

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring has been a popular flooring choice for centuries. It is made up of 100% solid wood and is a beautiful, luxurious flooring option. However, solid hardwood flooring can be easy to damage, so it’s important to be careful with your solid hardwood flooring and to never install solid hardwood in areas with widely ranging humidity levels, such as basements. They are particularly susceptible to damage in climates with widely ranging seasons. If solid hardwood is installed in areas with varying humidity/temperature, it is prone to cupping, a phenomenon in which the wood bubbles up and becomes uneven as a result of the humidity.


Laminate flooring planks are made of High Density Fiber (HDF). HDF is basically a bunch of tiny wood fibers compressed together to make a plank. Although it technically has wood in it, it is not considered to be hardwood flooring and is, in fact, a cheap substitute for it. The top layer uses photographic technology to mimic the appearance of hardwood, so that it looks like it has natural lines and grains, when it does not. Though this flooring is pretty tough and can take a beating, it’s cheap and it cannot be sanded or refinished like real hardwood, decreasing its lifespan.

Engineered hardwood

Engineered hardwood flooring is comprised of layers of real hardwood, glued together. It takes the the engineered layering technology from laminate and the quality wood from solid hardwood, becoming a hybrid flooring type that is both durable and high quality. Engineered flooring isn’t susceptible to cupping like solid hardwood and it isn’t cheap and fake like laminate. Its many layers allow it to be sanded and refinished nearly as many times as solid hardwood floors. Its advanced technology make it as tough as laminate.

So there you have it. These are all the subtle yet significant differences between hardwood, laminate and engineered flooring. For the highest quality floors, be sure to always purchase your containers of hardwood flooring from Chicago’s own JAS certified PurezaWood.

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