They are two varieties of flooring that can provide your home with the natural appeal, charm, and sophistication of solid hardwood at a fraction of the cost. However, they couldn’t be more different.

Engineered hardwood comes with an upper layer that is actually made of real hardwood and can thus provide an added touch of authenticity, as well as an enhanced degree of stability compared to solid hardwood.

Vinyl plank floors happen to be a subcategory of vinyl flooring which has been designed to resemble real wood as closely as possible and is even manufactured in the form of planks that can be clicked together. Also referred to as luxury vinyl flooring, it is considered to be more prestigious than laminate flooring and is several times thicker than standard vinyl flooring.

Which option should you choose? To find out the right answer, both floor types have been examined in detail with comparisons drawn up between them using key qualities that should be taken into consideration during the process of selecting a flooring surface. Examining them according to your preferences will enable you to make the best choice for your dream home.

Engineered HardwoodVinyl Plank
LifespanWill last between 30 – 50 yearsWill last between 5 – 25 years
Cleaning and maintenanceRequires special products and itemsEasier to clean and maintain
Water resistanceWater-resistant but not waterproofIs waterproof
Susceptibility to sunlightWill fade with continued exposure over timeWill fade with continued exposure over time
CostMore expensiveRelatively cheaper
Ease of installationSlightly complexEasy
Refinishing optionsCan be sanded and refinishedCannot be sanded or refinished
VarietyA wide range of colors, species, stains, and finishes are availableAn extensive range of colors and styles is available
Suitable for petsYes (high Janka rating, distressed finish recommended)Yes
Overall valueMay raise the value of your home significantlyMay not raise the value of your home significantly

Durability

This quality is one of the most important you will need to take into consideration when selecting a flooring option for your home. This is because selecting a durable surface can save you the extra cost and effort involved in shopping for new flooring and having to install it all over again.

Engineered hardwood

Engineered hardwood is pretty durable and also comes with added stability owing to its multilayered core. High-quality varieties can last for up to 50 years. However, because it is made from wood which is a porous material, it is by no means waterproof.

It is also susceptible to scratching and unlike solid hardwood cannot be refinished several times to get rid of extensive damage (high-quality products are the exception in this case).

Vinyl plank flooring

Vinyl plank flooring is also considered to be one of the more durable flooring options available however it does not last as long as engineered hardwood flooring since its lifespan does not exceed 25 years.

Yet, one of its key advantages over the former is its resistance to wear and tear and to scratching in particular; these qualities make it especially child or pet-friendly.

Another is its water resistance. Newer models which are made from polymers are fully waterproof making them ideal for mudrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Verdict

In terms of longevity, engineered hardwood wins overall, yet in terms of water and scratch resistance and all the daily concerns they entail, vinyl plank flooring is the preferable option.

Cleaning And Maintenance

Different types of flooring surfaces have different types of cleaning and maintenance requirements. Some can be cleaned using general cleaning materials and do not require any special kind of maintenance. Others can only be cleaned using approved materials and their maintenance may involve considerable expense. 

Engineered Hardwood

The refined beauty engineered hardwood floors can provide requires special care to be maintained. Reaching for any available brush or broom and using a very wet mop or even a steam cleaner might simply ruin your floors with scratches from hard bristles or from buckling, crowning, or cupping due to water damage.

To clean your engineered hardwood floors effectively, you will need to ensure you use manufacturer-approved products and avoid harsh cleaning solutions which may also cause damage to the finish. You will also need to endeavor to use soft-bristled brushes and brooms when sweeping to avoid scratching the surface.

This surface is also susceptible to blemishes. Depending on their severity and number it may be possible to repair scratches on engineered hardwood floors with a clear coat or colored markers, wax pencils, or filler and a stain.

Alternatively, you may need to refinish the entire surface. However, unlike solid hardwood floors which can be refinished several times, it may only be possible to refinish your engineered hardwood surface once. The only exceptions are products that have a veneer layer of over 3mm.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Despite vinyl plank flooring’s impressive resistance to moisture and scratching, you should still aim to use soft-bristled brushes when sweeping and should clean it with a microfiber mop which must be squeezed properly to eliminate as much moisture from it as possible during the process.

You will also need to ensure you avoid harsh cleaning products such as ammonia, bleach, or high pH detergents (mild dish soap is best) and avoid steam cleaning it as well.

The use of wax on surfaces in this category must also be avoided since doing so may cause buildup rather than providing them with an alluring sheen.

Vinyl plank flooring cannot be refinished and you will need to replace the damaged part of the floor using extra planks from the batch you have purchased.

Verdict

Both surfaces require the use of soft-bristled brushes and microfiber mops during cleaning. Neither take kindly to harsh cleaning products and require approved solutions or mild soap. However, vinyl plank floors are generally low maintenance compared to engineered hardwood floors.

Ease Of Installation

Flooring which is easy to install can enable you to save on cost and even time. Several homeowners now prefer to install their flooring themselves rather than relying on professional assistance. However, depending on the level of skill required, hiring the services of a contractor may be the more prudent and cost-effective option in the long run.

Engineered Hardwood

In terms of hardwood floors, engineered hardwood is considered to be an easier option compared to solid hardwood. Homeowners who are rather savvy with home renovation projects will be likely to find the floating installation or the nail-down installation methods easier than the glue-down method. The third option is to install engineered hardwood flooring over a concrete slab.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Flooring surfaces in this category are even easier to install compared to engineered hardwood floors and are considered one of the most convenient in this regard.

The procedure may either involve locking them together if they have a tongue and groove design or gluing them down if they happen to be of the peel and glue variety, and do not require the services of a professional.

Verdict

If you prefer to save on time and avoid complexity, vinyl plank flooring will be preferable to engineered hardwood since you will be able to install it yourself. The simplicity of the process means that you will be able to complete it promptly compared to the latter option. It also means you will be able to spend less money since you would not need to hire a contractor.

Susceptibility To Sunlight

Sunlight can add a touch of natural magic to our surroundings bathing them in the warmth and glow of summer or spring. 

And yet it can also fade organic and non-organic materials. As a result, the susceptibility of your flooring of choice to damage from the sun’s rays is also another factor that you will need to take into consideration as well as protective measures you may need to take to preserve its charm for as long as possible.

Engineered Hardwood

Wood is sensitive to sunlight and will fade over time as a result of continued exposure to it. This is mostly due to its ultraviolet rays although infrared and visible light also plays a role. The change to your hardwood floors will depend on the nature of the wood used and certain species will lighten as a result of exposure while others will darken.

For example, cherry will darken rather quickly to a reddish color and jarrah will also develop a more intense color over time. On the other hand, walnut and hickory will lighten after a while. 

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Despite its impressive resistance to factors such as scratching and moisture, vinyl plank flooring is also susceptible to fading as a result of prolonged exposure to sunlight. As a result, you may need to rely on tinted windows or the use of window treatments to protect it.

Verdict

Both engineered hardwood and vinyl plank flooring are susceptible to damage from sunlight over time. It is worth noting that it is possible to find engineered hardwood that comes with UV protection in its finish or certain varieties of vinyl plank flooring which have been manufactured with wear layers that have UV protection.

Alternatively, you may also need to use window films to filter out UV light or rely on low-e coated glass.

Cost

Quite often when embarking on a reflooring project, a tradeoff will have to be made between your set budget and your preferences. Factors worth considering will not only include the cost of the flooring but also the cost of installation.

Engineered Hardwood

Surfaces in this category are generally considered to be cheaper compared to solid hardwood and often cost $4 – $10 per square foot. However, depending on the installation method you are choosing, you may also have to consider the cost of hiring a professional which may cost you between $3 – $8 per square foot.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Luxury vinyl plank costs even less than engineered hardwood with prices ranging between $2.50 – $5 per square foot. Installation is pretty cheap compared to engineered hardwood and ranges between $1 – $3 per square foot. However as noted above, this is one of the easier flooring options to install and you may be able to cut costs even further if you install it yourself.

Verdict   

If you intend to enjoy the aesthetic appeal of one of the more expensive flooring surfaces for a fraction of the cost, vinyl plank flooring may be the preferable option given that it is considerably cheaper compared to engineered hardwood.

Variety

Availability of a wide selection of options increases the likelihood of you being able to obtain the style and color of flooring which perfectly suits your preferred esthetic for your home. Certain types of surfaces can be especially versatile in this regard.

Engineered Hardwood

If you select this option, you will find that you will have an extensive selection to choose from. Regardless of your preferred species, grain, finish, and grade, you will be able to find just what you need.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Because luxury vinyl plank flooring is printed, the variety on offer is practically limitless. As a result, you will be able to have access to an even greater selection of colors and styles.

Verdict

While vinyl plank flooring offers a truly impressive range of options, engineered hardwood can provide you with all the choices you need to imbue your home with the natural appeal of real wood.

Which Is Better: Engineered Hardwood vs Vinyl Plank Flooring

If you are interested in obtaining the authenticity of hardwood which comes with enhanced moisture resistance and stability at a lower price than solid hardwood, then engineered hardwood will be an excellent choice. The fact that it is also sustainable and will add to the value of your home are added benefits for selecting this flooring option.

However, if you prefer a more child-friendly surface that is low maintenance, has an enhanced resistance to moisture and scratching, and can also be very budget-friendly, you may prefer vinyl plank flooring.