What’s the Difference Between Wood, Engineered Wood and Vinyl?
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We break down the pros and cons of the three.
If you’re currently shopping around for flooring material, you might be mystified by the wood or wood-like products on the market. In particular, it can be tricky to distinguish between wood, engineered wood and vinyl. What are the differences between these, and which should you pick for your home or development? We’ll highlight what each product is known for, and when you might want to use each one.
One big difference among the three products is what they’re made of. Wood and engineered wood are natural products, composed entirely of wood. However, the former consists of only one type of wood, while the latter usually is made up of two types of wood – a top layer of a minimum 3mm thickness, supported by layers of plywood beneath.
On the other hand, vinyl flooring is made of synthetic material – polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – with colours and patterns (including those resembling wood grains) printed onto its topmost layer.
The flooring material determines how the floor will feel beneath your feet. Organic materials such as wood and engineered wood bring a feeling of warmth when you tread on them. You also have the option of introducing different textures to the topmost layer of engineered wood, such as distressed or wire-brushed, for a grippier or more fascinating experience for your bare feet.
Vinyl flooring, as a synthetic compound, will feel more plasticky underfoot and will not bring the same kind of warmth and cosy comfort as wood.
When it comes to maintenance or cleaning, a key difference is the need to avoid the use of an overly damp mop for wood or engineered wood floors. Otherwise, cleaning is fuss-free for all three surfaces, which benefit from regular vacuuming and mopping.
Because vinyl has a homogenous composition, it’s also less prone to scratches than wood surfaces. Nonetheless, a benefit of wood and engineered wood is that their top layers can always be restored through re-grinding and re-sanding.
Generally, wood and engineered wood cost more than vinyl tiles due to the time, labour and craftsmanship that go into sourcing the wood and preparing it. This is as opposed to vinyl, which is manufactured. Owners of homes or developments can also potentially lay vinyl tiles themselves to save on costs, while wood and engineered wood require specialised knowledge and expertise for installation.
Among the three, the least customisable is wood; those who prefer it usually select from among different wood types for a specific natural colour and grain. Engineered wood, while composed of wood, allows for different colours and textures for its top layer, which are introduced when the wood is processed.
A wider range of dimensions for each engineered wood plank is also possible as compared to wood. Engineered wood’s composition, with layers of plywood beneath, results in greater stability no matter what size the planks are cut to.
As vinyl is a matter of printing the desired image onto the top layer, its customisability will depend on the product range that you go for – some offer more varied patterns and colours than others.
A bonus of using wood and engineered wood is that their natural composition guarantees they won’t bring in any toxic chemicals or compounds. Depending on the materials used in its production, vinyl can give off fumes with varying levels of toxicity, so it’s best to check what the manufacturing process is like.
As a form of plastic, vinyl will also take much longer to decompose upon disposal than wood or engineered wood.
However, if you’re opting for wood or engineered wood, check that they’re harvested sustainably from well-managed forests. For example, we source wood from suppliers who are certified by the likes of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Keen to find out more about which flooring material is right for you? Check out our range of wood and engineered wood or click on the chat button to get in touch.