Wood floors - Laminate or Engineered?

Hi everyone
We are replacing the old horrible carpets in two rooms, and have decided on a wooden floor for both rooms.
Now we are trying to decide between laminate flooring (looking at Witex Castila range) and engineered wood flooring (such as Kahrs Linnea range).
We have ruled out solid wood floors because we have been told they aren't as hard wearing as the above two types, and can be easily ruined.
I quite like the engineered wood, as it's actually real wood rather than fake wood........
I think part of the problem is that there is simply too much choice out there. Our floors are just floorboards, with plywood over the top. I'm assuming I can just underlay straight over the ply and then get laying......
Anyone got any more experience with either of these types of floors?
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Having had both laminate and engineered floors in my time, I would go for the engineered any day oif the week (we've just moved, and had the downstairs (minus the kitchen) laid as one continuous floor, which looks fab)
The problem I found with laminate is that it can be chipped it you drop somehting heavy or with a sharp edge. With a real floor you'll just get a dent that will be more or less lost in the grain/knots and will disappear next time you sand.
If you get a good engineered floor, there will be enough wood on it for a few sandings, so you could keep the same floor for a good long while.
Of course the engineered stuff is more expensive, but when it is laid, there is no mistaking it
Cheers Chris

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-<GB>-Carpy wrote:> I think part of the problem is that there is simply too much choice out

I can't claim any experience - but this article about was in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago & might be useful: http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/consumer/story/0,,1701672,00.html
Regards,
Michael
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion, -<GB>-Carpy <GB> wrote:> Hi everyone

The title says it all. Laminate is *not* wood - full stop! It's entirely synthetic, and has never been anywhere near a tree.
In my view, there's no contest. Engineered flooring is *far* superior.
If you make sure that your sub-floor meets the required flatness criteria, and you avoid having joins in the engineering boards coinciding with joins in the plywood, you'll be fine. Don't forget to remove and re-fit (or replace) the skirting board - and undercut the doorframes and architraves - in order to make a job of it. This will avoid the need to use unsightly beading to cover the expansion gap - since you don't want to shout to the world "this is a retro-fit job"!
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Roger
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-<GB>-Carpy wrote:

<snip>
Yes. We put a cheap as chips laminate in the kitchen of the flat above our shop and it's suffered 5 years of serious abuse.
We also fitted Kahars "oak london" oven the entire floor area of our kitchen/diner/lounge/hall/study/lav+occasional shower room last summer. (House not the flat)
It's all open plan and looks superb. Also laid as one with no joins anywhere on UFH so far no expansion problems on a 45M sq area.
The downside to any wood surface is it's much more expensive than laminate, and if you have a dog or dogs, their claws are excellent at giving a "distressed" finish even to something like oak. (Small dogs are fine though)
On a virgin floor the slightest mark/dent etc has you thinking you'd have been better off with indestructible laminate until the dogs died and the kids left home, but once you understand it's all part of the natural aging of the wood you stop worrying about it and appreciate it even more.
Having the "satin matt" lacquered finish, I certainly wouldn't go for anything more shiny as it would almost certainly show up "scratches" even more. (Might be tempted to go for oiled if we did it again, but the laquer does make a pretty scratch proof surface.
As others said, wood, once you start letting it work rather than being a show piece is un-mistakeable as a quality floor that stands out as such.
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-<GB>-Carpy wrote:> Now we are trying to decide between laminate flooring (looking at Witex

I have Kahrs Oak London. Kahrs Linnea is the cheaper range closer to laminate in thickness but with a thin veneer of real wood. So more real than laminate but possibly not as robust as the full 15mm engineered type.

Having chosen between laminate and veneered and engineered. The choice is type of wood, which apart from appearance is a matter of hardness and propensity to shrink/expand with change in temperature and humidity.
Then you can choose 1,2 or three strips per board, and width and length of board. Careful choice of width and length may reduce wastage, other things being equal.
You also get to chose how even and well matched the wood is. Ranges described as 'natural' or some such mean more variation in grain, colour, filled knots etc.
Oiled or lacquered? I was advised against oiled as part of the room is a kitchen and oiled is prone to staining. OTH I find the lacquer finish a little too shiny and more yellow. But its been down 18 months now and sunlight and wear seems to be mellowing things.
On price: you pay more for: a rarer species; a thicker layer of wood; the labour of selection and wastage implied by wider strips, matched grain and colour etc. Many on-line shops have special offers for seconds and bin ends ie pay less but have more wastage from planks with a really odd looking filled knot or other imperfection in an obvious place.
[having laid my floor in autumn 2004, it had to come up last summer to change pipework for a new boiler, the difference in colour after a year between exposed and covered parts was noticeable. Took the opportunity to swap out a couple of boards with really odd looking grain in obvious places. and that was was a full price floor. So do check the boards carefully as you lay them and think about what will be on show.]
Consider the room, will most of the floor be on show or hidden by furniture and rugs?

Assuming the ply is flat and firm yes. The 200 year old floorboards in my flat are very uneven, That and the need for sound insulation led to my using an acoustic foam layer on top of fibreboard.

--
David Clark

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