A bit bewildered by the choices and price ranges out there!
What makes a good quality laminate and what makes a good quality engineered floor, intended for living room and hallway? Does more thickness mean less prone to distortion? Was looking at an oak engineered floor in a well known diy shop's 'sale' at an attractive price which looked good on top but was only 9mm thick, quite a lot thinner than their standard ranges. and the backing boards looked roughly finished. Not so cheap if it needs replacing after a year!
Would really like an engineered or solid wood floor but have been told that a quality laminate would be better suited to our new undrfloor heating system. Is this correct?
Answering your last question first. You can use most of any of the three groups of products but there are a few exceptions. You must follow the manufacturers advise though regarding underfloor heating as they can vary slightly. Personally I have encountered under floor heating with both solid and engineered.
Most modern laminate is very cheap and will only last a year or two in many situations. If you do go down the laminate route choose a better quality brand like Quick Step where you can get a better idea of the quality you are buying.
Engineered board has some real wood on the surface. This means that you have the ability to sand and then re-seal the floor back to a quality finish. The thickness of the wood gives a guide to how many times it can be re-sanded but with a good quality engineered board and a tough lacquer on top you could get a 10-30 year life from the boards. Because engineered boards are bonded in numerous directions they are fairly stable and less prone to movement than solid wood. (That said they do still move) and will last longer if bonded to the floor than floated.
Solid wood will be thicker than engineered and more prone to movement and should always be fixed. Once fitted though a good thick solid wood could last 20 - 50 years with a few re-sands.
My choice would be between engineered and solid and with the quality and range of engineered these days there is not much to choose between them. Go for the best you can afford as it will probably work out to be the cheapest long term.
Cheers tone thats great. I am aware about keeping the floor covering thickness to a minimum to reduce the insulation effect and maximise the efficiency of the u/f heating which is why i was looking at the thin stuff but the back really looked like it was made of old pallets! Is thickness really that much of an issue?
But what makes a quality engineered floor and how can you tell?
I have laminate flooring in my kitchen and bathroom and engineered in the other rooms. They both look great and they act really well. Both the flooring are good when it comes to underfloor heating, and you shouldn't worry about the thickness, as they will act great when it comes to conducting warmth.
"But what makes a quality engineered floor and how can you tell?"
you've already seen and identified some poor quality stuff (looks like old pallets!) you can generally just tell by the look and feel. as tall tone says - you get what you pay for and when it comes to f flooring then price is a good indicator of quality. you really do get what you pay for. the advice with flooring is always to spend as much as you can afford. this doesn't stop you shopping around for the same product.
Tall tone has given you spot on info... I have fitted many many types and makes of wood/engineered wood and Laminates...I have also fitted quite a bit of wickes engineered wood flooring and for the price it is pretty good..
You will pay a similar price for a quality laminate (quick-step/Witex/pergo) as you will for an engineered floor. If money was no object and engineered was what I wanted then Khars would be my first choice and quick-step would be my choice of laminate..
If you are going the solid wood root then buy from a reputable supplier.. moisture content/drying process and storage play a major part in the longevity of a solid wood floor...