Initially introduced as a cheaper option to solid wood floors. Engineered wood flooring has since come a long way to take over the wood flooring market. It cuts down on the usage of slow growing wood species. And is also the perfect option as a generally more stable floor. In regions like the Middle East, temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate often. Engineered floors make out to be largely low maintenance providing the excellent look and feel of a real wood floor.

Lovingly known as Semi Solid flooring, Engineered woods provide a Eco-friendly option. They use a very small amount of the hardwoods. Relying more on stabilizing the plank, using different layers of easily attained soft woods. When combined together, creating a viable and stable flooring board with all the perks or a solid plank flooring. The top layer is usually 4 mm thick but can go up to 6 mm for commercial installations.

Multiply floorboard base and top defined
Photo Courtesy
The different layers of engineered woods explained

Whats the secret to Engineered wood?

The innovation lies in the construction. Soft woods at the bottom builds up to finish with a real wood top. Built up to have different layers of wood, with the grain opposing each other gives a testament to the engineering involved in this fantastic innovation.

Wood is a natural material. This leads it to react to the ambient environment, causing it to expand or contract in rising and falling temperatures. Whereas solid wood would experience a lot of movement, this type of construction means that your engineered floor layers move against each other cancelling out any major expansion or contraction leading to a long lasting headache free floor.

Further Innovations:

Engineered woods do not require much in terms of surface preparation and any type of floor can accommodate a semi solid floor without the need for an expensive re-fit or taking up the existing floor in your house. As long as you have a level floor, you are good to go!

All semi solid floors can go on top of existing floors with the use of an underlay that provides protection as well as dampens reflective sounds. With the introduction of the patented uni-click system, you can now opt for a glue less installation. For a more in-dept discussion on the different installation systems prevalent in the market, please read our blog on To click or not: An ode on installation.

A recurring question asked today is the specifics of the differences between laminate flooring and Luxury Vinyl Tiles. These two floors are mostly similar and worlds apart at the same time. Here we will attempt to clarify both floors in depth so that we may arrive at a clearer understanding of both floors.

Welcome to the world of laminate flooring and Luxury Vinyl Tiles.

Laminate flooring

Layers of laminate flooring

Laminate flooring is made up of several layers brought together. This gives us a finish that imitates the look of a real wood floor.

The top layer is a very hard wearing melamine. Little care is required in maintaining a healthy looking floor for a long time thanks to this layer.

Similarly, the following layer is a high quality photographic image decorative layer that looks just like a plank of real wood.

The core is a high density fiber board that resists point loading and gives your floor, excellent drop impact protection. Moreover, this layer also has the patented click system that fall into place during installation. This means that you floor can be installed without the use of any harmful adhesives.

Additionally, the last layer is a balancing paper that ensures your board gets the dimensional stability required for durability.

To read about laminate floors in dept, please visit our blog dedicated to laminate floors here.

Luxury Vinyl Tiles

LVT plank profile

Luxury vinyl tiles are also made up of several layers brought together. This also gives us a finish that imitates the look of a real wood floor. The specific make up of the LVT floor also makes it 100% waterproof.

The top layer is a very hard wearing layer of 100% clear vinyl. Little care is required in maintaining a healthy looking floor for a long time thanks to this layer.

Similarly, the following layer is a high quality photographic image decorative layer that looks just like a plank of real wood.

The core – here is where the real difference is. The core is made up of 100% virgin vinyl. this layer is embedded with a fiberglass mesh. The mesh ensures that you have a very stable flooring with minimum expansion and contraction taking place in fluctuating humidity. Moreover, this layer also has the patented click system that fall into place during installation. This means that you floor can be installed without the use of any harmful adhesives.

Coupled together, these layers make up the luxury vinyl tile flooring board and this composition makes the material itself 100% waterproof.

Similarities

Firstly, both laminate and LVT flooring were manufactured to imitate wood floors

Secondly, both floors are supplied and laid in individual planks so as to look most like a wooden floor.

Thirdly, both floors boast low profiles so as to easily cover your existing floor.

And lastly, both floors are cheaper than solid or engineered wood flooring

Differences

Laminate Flooring

Melamine top finish is hard wearing

HDF core is not waterproof

Sound transference is high

Not recommended for wet areas. Keep away from water

No wet mopping

Luxury Vinyl tiles

UV hardened vinyl wear layer is ultra hard wearing

LVT is 100% waterproof

Quite under foot

Can be installed in kitchens and bathrooms

Wet mopping not a problem

Both floors are similar up to the fact that it is hard to tell the difference when they are laid down. Although laminate flooring is here to stay and will have a special preference by wood floor enthusiasts. LVT is the flooring that clearly wins over in the differences.

It is safe to say the LVT will be flooring of choice through the year and we will probably see more innovations coming from the laminate ranges going ahead.

Laminate flooring was invented in 1977 and has grown since in quality, aesthetics and design. Making its most significant progress during the last 20 odd years with the introduction of newer manufacturing techniques. This ushered in glue less laminate floors.

So what exactly is laminate flooring? well, early industry solid wood flooring was quite expensive, difficult to install and harder to maintain. Not to mention a burden on mother earths precious resources.

Then came engineered woods. These use only a third of the slow growing hardwoods to cover an area equal to a solid wood floor. This leap in technology allowed very little usage of hardwoods. Introducing soft wood layers to give us a more temperature resistant, dimensionally stable floor. Easier to install and maintain and low on cost. Read all about engineered floors on our blog post here.

Thus established that engineered floors are a more effective option as opposed to solid woods. An even more cost effective option was introduced by a Swedish company, Perstorp. This flooring used compressed wood as the core materials with a high definition photograph as the decor layer. This bit of genius invention is now commonly called laminate flooring.

layers of laminate flooring
image courtesy Hughes floor coverings

The Layers

The top layer is a very hard wearing melamine. Little care is required in maintaining a healthy looking floor for a long time thanks to this layer.

Similarly, the following layer is a high quality photographic image decorative layer that looks just like a plank of real wood.

The core is a high density fiber board that resists point loading and gives your floor, excellent drop impact protection. Moreover, this layer also has the patented click system that fall into place during installation. This means that you floor can be installed without the use of any harmful adhesives.uni click locking

Additionally, the last layer is a balancing paper that ensures your board gets the dimensional stability required for durability.

The Pros

  1. Looks very much like an authentic wood floor
  2. Look forward to a cost effective floor.
  3. The thin overall profile lays easily above existing floors
  4. Easily maintained and does not require polishing or refreshing
  5. Installed quickly and easily, without adhesives while protecting your existing floor.
  6. The click system makes removing the floor very easy. Making it most viable to rental properties
  7. High heels and dropped objects leave no indentations

The Cons

  1. Is quite loud under foot because of the melamine surface
  2. Requires dry mopping. Wet mopping will damage the floor
  3. Remove excess water and spills immediately. Left on the floor it will seep into the joints and damage the boards.
  4. Must have humidity maintained at all times as is sensitive to any moisture formation on or below the boards. Which means you will have to leave your A/c on at a maintained temperature. Specially in the gulf regions

Conclusions

Laminate flooring today is capable of looking more and more like a real wood floor laid down. New features like registered and raised embossed finishes define wood grains on the boards. This technique makes the boards look and feel like the real thing.

We see new products and finishes coming up regularly as technology advances in these sectors. A fairly decent up and coming contender in the market of wood floors are Luxury Vinyl Tiles. You can read up on this new flooring and how it compares to laminate floors here.

New finishes in laminate flooring continue to surprise and delight. A wide variety of colors, and the very special price point at which they are available. This will continue to ensure laminate flooring, its very own space among the various wood floors options. It will remain a viable and contending place holder in choice, for your homes and offices.

There is a lot of discussion around the difference between SPC and LVT in the vinyl flooring segment.

SPC (Stone Plastic Composite) floors and LVT (Luxury vinyl tile) floors are essentially branches of the same tree. Technologies upgrade and new innovations bring us better options to choose from. LVT floors are getting better with improvements in stability and finish of this already very interesting flooring option. This is the newer, better, SPC floor.

The Process

Introducing Limestone into the manufacturing process make this latest vinyl flooring board stronger in the core. This also provides stability across the length and width of the planks making sure there is no noticeable expansion or contraction. Even more so than LVT floors.

The Similarity

Both floors are extremely water resistant and have a high tolerance to oil, grease and abuse.

Installation is just as easy as an LVT flooring. Just clicks into place. Matching accessories will give you the perfect finish.

Both floors imitate a wood look with perfection. One can say it is difficult to tell the difference between a wood floor and an LVT/SPC floor laid down.

The Difference

LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tiles)

An LVT floor suffers some expansion and contraction when the ambient temperature is not controlled. Fluctuations in temperature can cause problems.

80% recyclable content

The LVT floor is recyclable for up to 80% of its contents. Your new LVT floor will also contribute of the indoor air quality of your space.

It is possible for heavy furniture to leave residual indentations when removed after an extended period

Quite under feel – low sound transfer when walking with heels and shoes

SPC (Stone Plastic Comp)

With an SPC floor, you can switch off your air-con without worry. The floor will not expand when the temperature rises and switching on the AC will cause no contractions.

100% recyclable content

The SPC floor is recyclable for up to 100% of its content. Your new SPC floor will also contribute of the indoor air quality of your space.

SPC floors do not suffer any residual indentations from heavy point loading

The rigid core of the SPC allows for a little more sound when walked upon but this is easily controlled with a sound absorbing underlay

The structure of both of LVT and SPC is the same except for the core which makes all the difference

LVT with IXPE underlay vinyl flooring
Spc with underlay vinyl flooring

Conclusions

Both floors are similar up to the fact that it is impossible to tell the difference when they are laid down. Although LVT flooring is here to stay and will be preferred for its slightly softer and quieter composition, SPC is gaining ground quickly.

It is safe to say the SPC will be flooring of choice through the year and we will probably see more innovations coming from the SPC ranges going ahead.