Is laminate more durable than engineered hardwood?

steph2000September 23, 2013

I've posted a few times over the course of the past couple of years about flooring choices for my remodel. I'm in a small 50's ranch on a cement slab (on grade) in Alaska - in a modest neighborhood. We have 3 cats, plan to get another big dog and are not easy on things.

We want to use the same flooring throughout the public space (LR, kitchen, DR, den and hall) - with a tile threshold at the front door, but not at the back sliders. I am absolutely dedicated to getting a medium tone brown wood-looking floor.

I had ruled laminate out pretty much immediately due to feedback about laminates not being recommended in the kitchen. So, have been toying back and forth between engineered hardwood versus LVT.

LVT was a front-runner at one point given moisture resistance, durability and ease of repair. However, most look plasticy, I can't find one in the color tone I really want and we are going to need a subfloor if we go LVT as we are going to need to take the flooring over holes in the cement where our furnace vents used to be. By the time you add the expense of that, it seemed to stop making sense to go LVT.

This weekend I spent a few hours with a flooring consultant in yet another store. She asserted that laminate is MORE durable than engineered hardwood. She stated that it is less prone to denting and scatching than engineered wood. She agreed that the engineered hardwood with real wood backing is more durable when it comes to major water events (as opposed to the varieties that are particle board), but felt that overall, laminate holds up better.

On top of this, the Quick-Step walnut I am looking at is less than one third the price of the Kahr's engineered hardwood I fell in love with. And that is one major chunk of change. So, I can basically spend more than 3x the money for a floor less likely to wear well and more likely to need replacement sooner. Looks wise, I do prefer the Kahrs, but I am not sure if I prefer it THAT much more - or if it even makes sense for the neighborhood.

Do you agree with her assessment, or disagree, and why or why not?

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Is there a reason you don't want to go with solid hardwood? That would be the most durable of all. If I had to do a floating floor, I'd pick engineered hardwood, just because I don't like the look of laminate.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:56AM
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We put down engineered hardwood (Mohawk Santa Barbara) in our family room several years ago. We had been assured by the flooring store owner that it was extremely durable, which was our concern because we have two dogs. He claimed to have it in his own home and it had shown no scratches from his Labrador Retriever. We noticed the first scratches within 15 minutes of the floor being installed, and it has been a constant problem ever since. I still love the look of the floor, but if you are wanting durability, I would not recommend it. If we were doing it again, we would get wood-look vinyl or ceramic tile.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 3:06PM
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I've had a 110-lb lab and 2 Corgis (who love to run laps around the house) since we put in our hardwood floors 13 or so years ago. As soon as I hear toenails start to clickity-clack on the floor, I trim them - probably once a week. I don't have doggie scratches on the floor. Lots of other things have scratched the floors (I learned to clean the feet of Grandma's walker when she came over - too late), but not the dogs.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 3:22PM
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We keep our dogs' nails trimmed and 'Dremelled', too, but this floor just seems to scratch very easily. I'm sure there are engineered hardwood products which are more scratch resistant - I just can't recommend mine.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 4:22PM
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I can't do solid hardwood. Something about on-grade cement slabs and Alaska. It's down to LVT, engineered hardwood or laminate.

And... I keep hearing stories like gilmoregal's about engineered hardwood.

So, basically I can spend over $10/SF plus $4 installation for a glue-down engineered wood floor that is the PERFECT color - or $3/SF for a laminate that is slightly darker than I want that we could install ourselves. That's like 14K compared to 3K. In a modest neighborhood. With a man who doesn't take his boots off.

I mean, I can see spending more for what you love. But spending more to get less durability in a place we are likely over-improving already may not be the thing to do...

I just really do love this particular engineered wood. It's the perfect brown, not too light, not too dark. But, it's a thin veneer of wood on a particle board backing that looks a lot like the laminate backing, actually.

Ouch. These decisions hurt. I thought the benefit of my small house would be that I could basically afford whatever I wanted without gulping too hard. Not so! Gilmoregal, I really feel for you. 15 minutes and the scratching begins...

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:07PM
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FWIW, I had laminate that held up much better than my current engineered hardwood against scratches.

Old laminate was in for ~8 years. The only dings/scratches were from things that SHOULD scratch or dent a floor. (Dropped a glass sugar bowl which broke, someone dragged a ladder across the floor with a nail under it - those sorts of things.) The old floor suffered through the antics of 2 80 pounds labs just fine, including occasional pet accidents.

New engineered hardwood has been in a year. It already has 5 times the scratches that my old floor did, and I don't know where most of them have come from. My dear sweet old labs are gone. No kids, one small dog, we don't wear shoes in the's like gremlins come out at night and scratch the floor just to screw with me.

I know lots of people say they hate the wood-look laminates. My opinion (worth what you paid for it, ha-ha) is that my former laminate looked just fine, and it held up better against normal life.

I have no experience with water leaks, so can't speak to that component on either floor.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 12:59PM
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If durability is your primary concern, I would go with a good laminate. After all, what strikes you as more durable, plastic or wood?

I know landlords that use nothing but traffic master allure in their rental properties. No personal experience myself.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Steph2000 - You have probably made your decision, but in case you haven't, you may want to look at Pergo XP Extreme Performance laminate. I was at Home Depot the other night and saw it on display. It looks more realistic (to my eye) than many laminates, and when I tried to scratch the sample piece with my keys, it would not even make a mark! I wish it had been available when we bought our Mohawk Santa Barbara....

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 4:35PM
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I second gilmoregal. I am putting in Pergo Max (almost the same thing as Pergo XP). I have tested all kinds of laminates and flooting bamboo floors and the two that faired the best were Pergo Max and a Lampton laminate from BuildDirect. I did 5 tests on each piece (I connected two pieces to make a seam): 1) Hammer drop from my waist 2)set of keys dropped from my waist 3) Kitchen knife drop from my waist 4) Scissor scratch 5) Water spill between the seams left overnight.

The only thing that damaged the pergo was the scissor scratch (and with some light buffing you couldn't even notice) and the knife drop which made a tiny dent. The water did NOTHING to damage the pergo which surprised me a lot.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:44AM
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We have a laminate kitchen in a beach house. It prexisted our 2002 purchase. Still perfect. We installed $1 s. Ft laminate, click, in 2003 in the rest of the house and it has a couple of minor scratches. The house is not occupied much, summer house, but it gets lots of sand. Lots of kids. Very sturdy. Maybe they made better laminate at the time but it has been great for us.

I think I will do pergo for the bedrooms in a newly purchased house. I don't get the appeal at its price for engineered.
we have still perfect hardwood floors in our 1960 house which are original.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2014 at 10:42PM
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