Hardwood
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Engineered Hardwood VS LVP: Which One is Better?

Written by
Paul Galushkin
Published on
January 15, 2024

Engineered Hardwood vs LVP

Introduction

When it comes to choosing the perfect flooring for your construction project, there are many factors to consider. One of the biggest decisions you will have to make is whether to go with engineered hardwood or luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring.

Both options offer a range of benefits and drawbacks, making it important to carefully consider your needs and budget before making a decision.

In this blog post, we will discuss the key differences between LVP and engineered hardwood flooring, as well as provide you with all the necessary information to choose the best fit for you.

What is Engineered Hardwood?

Engineered hardwood flooring

Engineered hardwood is a type of flooring that is made up of multiple layers of wood veneer.

The top layer is typically made from a high-quality solid wood such as oak, maple, or cherry.

The layers underneath are made from lower-grade wood and are bonded together to create a strong and durable core.

This type of construction helps to prevent warping and shrinking, making it a good option for areas with high levels of humidity.

What is LVP?

Luxuty vinyl plank flooring

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is a synthetic flooring material that mimics the look of hardwood. It is made up of multiple layers, including a vinyl layer, a photographic image layer, and a protective clear layer.

This combination creates a durable and waterproof flooring option that is also budget-friendly.

Differences Between Engineered Hardwood and LVP

Now let's dive into the key differences between engineered hardwood and LVP flooring:

1. Material

Material

As mentioned earlier, engineered hardwood is made from real wood veneer while LVP is made from synthetic materials.

This means that while both options offer the look of hardwood, engineered hardwood has a more authentic and natural feel.

2. Durability

Damaged flooring

Engineered hardwood is known for its durability and can last for decades with proper maintenance.

However, it is more susceptible to scratching and water damage compared to LVP flooring.

LVP's synthetic materials make it more resistant to wear and tear, making it a great option for high-traffic areas.

3. Installation

A team installing flooring

Installation of engineered hardwood can be more challenging and time-consuming compared to LVP flooring.

Engineered hardwood requires a specific subfloor and must be nailed down or glued in place.

On the other hand, LVP is a floating floor option that can be installed over any flat surface, making it a faster and easier process.

4. Cost

The cost of flooring

The cost of engineered hardwood is typically higher than LVP flooring due to the use of real wood veneer.

However, the durability and longevity of engineered hardwood may make it a more cost-effective option in the long run.

5. Maintenance

A man cleaning his flooring

Engineered hardwood requires regular cleaning and occasional refinishing to maintain its look and increase longevity. Water spills need to be wiped up immediately to prevent damage. LVP, on the other hand, is more forgiving. Its water resistance means spills can be easily cleaned up without worry, and it requires no refinishing.

6. Comfort and Sound

A family that is comfortable in their home

Due to its composition, engineered hardwood provides a warmer, more comfortable surface underfoot compared to LVP. Wood also absorbs sound, creating a quieter environment. LVP tends to be cooler and does not have the same sound-dampening qualities, which can make spaces feel less cozy.

7. Environmental Impact

A beautiful forest

Engineered hardwood is often a more eco-friendly choice as it uses less solid wood than traditional hardwood floors. However, it's important to choose products from manufacturers who follow sustainable practices. LVP, being synthetic, is not biodegradable and its production and disposal can have a greater environmental impact.

8. Aesthetic Appeal

Aesthetic appeal of flooring

Engineered hardwood offers a high-end, classic look that many homeowners and designers love. It's available in a wide range of species, colors, and finishes. LVP, while designed to mimic the look of wood, may not fully replicate the unique character and depth of real wood.

9. Resale Value

House for sale

Houses with solid hardwood flooring usually offer a greater resale value. Buyers appreciate the warmth, quality, and longevity of engineered hardwood. LVP, while popular for its durability and lower cost, may not add as much value to a home.

10. Health Concerns

Flooring in the kitchen

Engineered hardwood, being a natural product, is generally a healthier option as it doesn't emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). LVP, however, could emit VOCs depending on the quality and composition of the product. Always choose floorings that meet rigorous health and safety standards.

Installation Process

Engineered Hardwood

A team installing engineered hardwood flooring

The installation process for good quality engineered hardwood flooring is a bit more involved than that of LVP, but it can result in a beautifully unique and durable floor. It begins with the preparation of the subfloor. The area where the flooring will be installed must be clean, dry, and flat. It's essential to ensure there are no protruding nails or screws, and if necessary, any high spots should be sanded down, and low spots filled with a leveling compound.

Underlayment

Once the subfloor is ready, the next step is to lay the underlayment. The underlayment acts as a moisture barrier and provides cushioning and sound insulation. It's typically a roll of thin foam or similar material and is laid down right over the subfloor. The seams between the strips of underlayment are often taped together to ensure a continuous barrier.

Planks

The installation of the actual engineered hardwood flooring follows the underlayment. The planks are usually installed perpendicular to the floor joists. This provides the greatest stability and helps prevent the floor from moving and squeaking over time. The first row of flooring is critical as it sets the direction and alignment for the rest of the floor. This row is often secured with nails or glue following the manufacturer's instructions.

For subsequent rows, the planks are generally installed using a method called tongue-and-groove. This involves fitting the "tongue" of one plank into the "groove" of another. Depending on the type of engineered hardwood, it can be nailed, glued, or even clicked into place. The planks are often tapped gently with a mallet to ensure a tight fit.

Finishes

Finally, the last step in the installation process is the application of a finish if the engineered wood is prefinished, this step can be skipped. The finish is what protects the floor from wear and tear and gives it its shine. This could be a polyurethane coating, which is applied in several layers and sanded between each one. Or it could be a penetrating oil finish, which is rubbed into the wood and left to dry. Each type of finish has its pros and cons, and the choice depends on the desired look and the amount of traffic the floor is expected to endure.

LVP Flooring

A team installing luxury vinyl plank

The installation process for LVP is relatively simple and requires only a few tools. The first step is to ensure the subfloor is clean, dry, and flat. Any imperfections should be addressed before laying down the flooring.

Underlayment

Next, an underlayment may or may not be used depending on the product and manufacturer's instructions. Some vinyl flooring comes with an attached underlayment, while others require a separate moisture barrier to be laid down first.

Planks

Once the floor is prepped, the luxury vinyl planks can be installed. Unlike engineered hardwood, they do not need to be nailed or glued down but rather "float" on top of the subfloor. This means that each plank is connected only to the adjacent planks, allowing for expansion and contraction with changes in temperature and humidity. The planks are typically installed using a click-and-lock method, where the edges of the planks are fitted together to create a secure connection.

Finally, trim pieces such as baseboards or transition strips may be added to complete the installation process.  These pieces help to hide any gaps or imperfections and give a professional finish to the flooring.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: Can LVP be installed in bathrooms or basements?

A: Yes, most LVP flooring is water-resistant and can handle areas with high moisture levels, making it a suitable choice for bathrooms and basements.

Q: How do I clean engineered wood flooring?

A: Regular sweeping or vacuuming followed by mopping with a damp cloth is usually sufficient for cleaning engineered flooring. Avoid using harsh chemicals or excessive water as they can damage the finish.

Q: Does LVP look cheap?

A: Not necessarily. While LVP is a more budget-friendly option, it can still replicate the look of real wood convincingly and comes in a variety of styles and finishes to suit different aesthetics.

Q: Can I install LVP over existing flooring?

A: In most cases, yes. As long as the existing floor is clean, flat, and in good condition, LVP can be installed directly on top of it. However, it's always best to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation.

Q: Can I refinish engineered wood floors?

A: It depends on the thickness of the top layer of the engineered hardwood planks. Thicker layers can withstand sanding and refinishing multiple times, while thinner layers may not be able to handle it. Consult a professional for advice before attempting to refinish your engineered hardwood floors.

Conclusion

Both engineered hardwood and LVP flooring have their unique installation processes, each with its benefits and considerations.

It's essential to understand the specific requirements and make an appropriate decision based on your project's needs and budget.

Whichever option you choose, both can result in a beautiful, durable, and long-lasting floor for your space.

Remember to always follow proper installation procedures as outlined by the manufacturer to ensure the best results.

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