engineered timber vs laminateOne of the hardest decisions for our renovation has been choosing the flooring.

The timber vs laminate debate!

We’re having hard floors throughout the whole house, except for our bedroom/robe, and the living room (which will be carpet over existing pine).

So there’s a lot of timber flooring and it will have a huge impact on the feel of the whole house which makes the decision a really important (and difficult) one.

I’ve been tossing up between engineered timber and laminate.  Both are floating floors over the concrete slab and both have their pros and cons.

I’ve had laminate previously when we did a renovation and I must say, I did love it.   It was a brand new range at the time in brushbox, with a lovely sheen and it was always commented on by visitors who thought it was real timber.

It was hardwearing and even several years later it still looked as good as new.

And it’s that hardwearing, no fuss aspect that I yearn for with my 3 run amok kids running all over it.


for this house I really want engineered timber.

In a home that we plan to be in forever and that will have quite a high resale value, I think it’s justified to spend the extra now for a product that will essentially last a lifetime.

But, first let’s back up a bit.

For those not sure of which type is which, here’slaminate vs engineered timber a quick rundown:

Laminate boards use a photograph of real timber that gets transposed onto moisture resistant HDF board.  There’s usually several different photos used so there’s a mixture of boards throughout.   A highly wear resistant overlay is on top and a balance paper on the bottom for stability.


Engineered timber boards have a 3 – 6 mm wear layer of hardwood on top of a multi-layer multi-directional plywood core.  The surface is pre-finished with coats of scratch resistant coatings which can be sanded back and refinished several times.


The Timber vs Laminate Debate



  • With a good laminate you can drop a bowling ball on it and it won’t dent.  Or scratch it with a screwdriver and it won’t mark (yes, these are both scenarios that could happen in my household!). They’re extremely durable and well made (unlike 10 years ago), and with the good ones you can’t tell that it’s not real timber.
  • Because it’s a man made product you know what you’re gonna get – each box contains the same set of boards with a uniform colour and finish.
  • It’s cheaper than timber.   Prices range a lot but it’s a significant upfront saving.


  • Laminate will “wear out” over time and need replacing.  Most do not realise a laminate floor has a much shorter life span, nor factor in the replacement cost down the track.
  • It’s not timber.  And for some people that’s enough to dismiss it (although some people are still convinced you have to use solid timber too, which is crazy in our climate so each to their own right?)
  • Most often it’s not the look but the sound of the laminate that gives it away – it’s usually noisier to walk on and sometimes a bit hollow sounding.




  • Timber is a natural product so it “ages”, but gracefully and the aging process adds to the charm, as do the imperfections.
  • You can’t beat the warmth and feel underfoot of a natural timber floor.  It will add value to your home and is a timeless product that won’t date.
  • It can be sanded and refinished several times to keep it looking fresh.


  • It will scratch and mark.   How easily it dents depends on the hardness rating of the timber (pine is soft, walnut is hard).    Some people like that it shows some extra character but others prefer the perfect finish of laminate.
  • The colours and tones of the boards varies significantly.  It’s a product of mother nature so no 2 boards are identical so the sample you see in the showroom can look quite different to the batch that ends up being delivered to site.
  • You have to make sure any spills are cleaned up straight away as moisture is not timber’s best friend.

At the end of the day it’s a personal choice because of what’s most important to you –  it might just be the colour you like best, or the price to suit your budget, or the style/location of your home.

Going shopping didn’t help narrow the field though, there are so many gorgeous types available, especially in the laminates, that it made the choice even more confusing!

And the funny thing was, even when I said I wanted to spend more for engineered timber, every flooring company I visited steered me away from the timber and told me to go laminate because of the durability (and I didn’t even have the kids with me!).

But of course I didn’t listen and decided on a beautiful oak timber called Latte from Preference flooring.  It has a matt finish that will be perfect for our home and provide the easy care finish that I need.

Here it is:

engineered timber vs laminate flooring


Can’t wait to be at the stage of flooring installation, seems a long way off yet but I can feel it now!

Do you have floating floors?  What type did you go for?  Or what would you like?

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