Can't decide: Laminate or Engineered?
My wife and I are building a home and I'm torn on what to use for our hard-surface flooring. Most of our first floor will be hardwood/laminate -- about 1100 square feet. But I'm having trouble deciding what product.
Our early choice was the Dream Home St. James collection 12mm African Mahagony laminate (with pad attached) from Lumber Liquidators for $2.39/sqft. However, based on my research, I have growing concerns about the quality of that laminate and the look/feel of laminate in general.
While the samples of laminate we've looked at in the stores can seem very nice, sometimes when I look at pictures of whole-room installations I can spot the repeating pattern. Then again, I AM looking for it...but I also worry about how it will feel underfoot. I remember looking at houses that were OBVIOUSLY laminate -- it was the dirt cheap stuff, felt and sounded like plastic when you walked on it. I hate that. The sample of 12mm St. James we have from LL doesn't seem to feel like that, but I still worry.
So I'm also considering engineered, if we can find some that
a) Doesn't scratch easily (we have pets and, soon, kids)
b) Is a color we like for under $4/sqft
I want the durability (and price) of laminate, but I am forever concerned about how good laminate feels underfoot and I don't find a lot of discussion about that online. I've read through iFloor.com's MASSIVE laminate brand-wars article, and it looks like Quick-step performed great and is affordable, so if anyone has any personal experiences to share with that product that would be a bonus.
Looking for personal experiences and advice...thanks!
Why not real hardood? I try to think long term. Real solid hardwood can be refinished many times in the life of the home if necessary. Damage to laminate or engineered will find you tearing out & replacing with new.
We refinish literally hundreds of floors every year, many 50-100 years old. We do refinish a handful of prefinished floors every year as well. As a rule, refinishing is 1/2-1/3 the cost of replacing down the road.
If money isn't the main factor, go with a sand on site hardwood floor the first time, then repairs can be made by yourself for years to come & if they ever get to rough, all you need to do is sand screen them & give them 1 or 2 new coats of finish.
Well, money is a significant factor I suppose, although I'm willing to stretch to get something that's worth it. That said, I have a feeling that having over 1000 sq ft of solid hardwood installed, sanded, and stained on-site is going to be cost-prohibitive.
I'm looking at bamboo too, but since we want a medium-dark floor it's going to have to be stained/carmelized and I've read about issues with such bamboo floors chipping and showing the lighter natural color underneath.
Around here, solid oak, sand on site runs between $8-10/sq ft.installed. Not the typical diy project.
Since you've came to a DIY site asking questions, I'm assuming you're wanting to do as much of the work yourself as possible.
You should be able to purchase a nice prefinished floor for around $3.50-4.50/sq ft. If you've got any carpentry ability, installing a prefinished solid wood floor is not that big a deal. Start at your longest straight wall with a straight line & work your way toward the other wall. Putting in a hardwood floor is kinda like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle. Hard physical work, but not overly hard otherwise.
Thanks, yes, I'm not that concerned about installation. Either I'll do it if I have time or I'll hire someone.
I am still undecided about what TYPE of flooring I should go with, and I'm mostly bouncing between a high quality laminate or a low- to mid-grade engineered.
High end laminates from Quickstep, Armstrong, Wilsonart, Mannington and others perform very well in even extreme environments.
they honestly can go way beyond 20 years in a home.
However the value of them are very low compared to natural products.
A low end engineered wood is more valuable, but the question is, how many times can it be sanded?
Most people only sand once anyway, because it's not a ton of fun.
So if you can deal with lower durability, more scratches and dings (character really) and sand it about 15 years from now to brand new, then your all set!
Lam = durability
Wood = value
I am buying an engineered wood from Anderson that is already dinged up.
I will live on that floor till I die and never sand it.
I will scratch and ding it and it will only add to the character.
So that's what I prefer.
If this helps any, I went with laminate. I bought 12mm Cottage Collection Barnwood from Carpet Exchange. If you purchase laminate I recommend that you do it yourself. I had no flooring experience prior and the flooring was a straight forward install. Make sure to space 1/4" out from walls. I didn't even use a pullbar when I installed mine, but that would make things easier.
Anyhow, the flooring has held up great. I can't believe how durable this stuff is, I try to key it and it doesn't even leave a mark. Make sure to get good underlayment. Good luck.
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