The choice of flooring which goes into your home is an immense one.
If you’re not satisfied with carpet and want that old school look then you’ve probably been looking at some kind of wooden flooring.
There are a ton of them on the market. For most people, the final decision comes down to hardwood vs. laminate.
If you’re on the fence about which type of wooden flooring to go with then read on. We’ll show you how to make sure you make the right pick for your home.
What’s the Difference?
Hardwood flooring is a classic style of flooring and is made entirely of solid wood. In this case, the planks are made of a solid piece of material with little alteration other than the application of the final finish.
Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is comprised of several different layers of material. Unlike engineered wood flooring the outermost layer is comprised of a thin layer of vinyl with a wood grain image instead of actual wood.
Both are available in woods ranging from common to exotic.
For the most part, laminate flooring is cheaper but the real difference is in use.
Longevity of Hardwood vs. Laminate Flooring
Floors take a ton of abuse. Shoes, paws, dirt … the list goes on.
Durability between the two types of flooring can be a bit confusing. Here’s the thing — due to coatings laminate boards are often more scratch and moisture resistant.
On the other hand, a true hardwood floor is going to last longer.
Hardwood floors can be refinished time and time again. Since they’re comprised of solid wood you’ll be able to sand off the top layer and reapply the final finish without worrying about wearing through the wood.
On the other hand, laminate flooring isn’t able to be sanded down and refinished in the event of a serious mishap.
Laminate flooring does tend to be better at resisting moisture due to its internal construction.
Hardwood floors will warp rapidly when exposed to water which makes it a poor choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and anyone with pets.
In the end, a laminate floor will require less maintenance over the same span of time. Once you begin to look a decade or so into the future, however, the investment in solid hardwood begins to pay off when it comes to longevity.
What About Cost?
Remodels are expensive and flooring is usually charged by the square foot before installation.
Laminate isn’t just a bit cheaper, it runs around 50 percent cheaper in most cases when compared to common hardwood flooring like red oak. Mid-range hardwood generally runs about $8 to $12 per square foot and the labor cost is roughly the same.
However, hardwood flooring is a hot item in the market and a professional installation can increase the value of your home. If you’re looking for an eventual return on your investment then hardwood is the best option.
Hardwood flooring is difficult to install. It will require you to go to some pretty extreme lengths if you’re planning on giving it a DIY shot. You’ll also need the right tools and some basic carpentry skills to install it correctly.
Laminate flooring, on the other hand, easily lends itself to DIY since it can be installed without the need for much more than a rubber mallet and saw. Most people will be able to install it themselves, although it won’t be as fast as professional installation.
Remember to factor in the installation cost if you’re crunching numbers. Laminate flooring wins out on both the price of the planks and when it comes time to put the flooring in.
Which is Best for Me?
Cost aside, the type of flooring which is best for your home will depend largely on the occupants and the room you’re refinishing.
Laminate flooring is best for the following situations:
- Lots of pets
- Any room where moisture is a risk
- Tight budgets
- Heavy foot traffic
The toughness of the outer coating of laminate flooring is a big bonus for houses with heavy traffic.
Pets are one of the biggest risks for a hardwood floor. Even if you’re meticulous about removing your shoes when you come in, your dog can’t remove his claws and sooner or later he’s going to get excited and dig those paws into the floor.
On the other hand, hardwood works best in the following situations:
- A home you plan to occupy for years to come
- Homes without pets or children
- Increasing the value of a home
Hardwood is also better looking in most cases. While laminate flooring has come a long way from the original varieties much of it still has a look which is distinguishable from hardwood to the trained eye.
The biggest advantage of solid hardwood flooring is simple: you probably won’t have to replace it in this lifetime unless there’s a serious accident. You may want to opt for tile or something else in kitchens and bathrooms where spills are a serious concern.
In the end, laminate flooring is a more practical choice for many people but the longevity and aesthetic of hardwood flooring is simply timeless and most find it to be money well spent.
Ready For Your New Floor?
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our little comparison of hardwood vs. laminate flooring. Both are great options that will add beauty and value to your home but the key differences make them useful for different purposes.
Whichever way you go, you’re going to need to make sure you have high-quality planks.
If you’re ready to get started with a brand new floor then check out our shop and see if we don’t have something you’ll fall in love with.