Deciding between hardwood vs laminate flooring doesn't have to be as difficult as you might think. It can be an easy decision if you understand the major differences.
Many homeowners end up disappointed with their flooring decisions. This is because they didn't have all the information they needed to make an informed decision.
In this article, we compare the major differences between hardwood flooring and laminate flooring. We discuss the benefits of hardwood vs laminate as well as the detriments. Continue reading to find out which flooring type is the best option for your home.
Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring Construction
One of the most notable differences when comparing hardwood vs laminate flooring is the construction of each.
As you might have guessed, hardwood flooring consists of solid wood boards. These boards are typically about 3/4 inch thick and are available either prefinished or unfinished. Unfinished boards often undergo staining and varnishing once installed.
In contrast, laminate flooring consists of fiberboard. Fiberboard is made from wood fibers instead of the solid wood found in hardwood flooring. After the fibers are formed into solid boards, a design layer covers the fiberboard.
The design layer of laminate flooring mimics the grain and texture of real wood. It does this through a pattern of lines and swirls.
One of the most common questions when deciding on hardwood vs laminate flooring has to do with appearance. While these two flooring options are meant to look the same, there are some noticeable differences.
One of the benefits of hardwood flooring is that it looks the most like wood. It has the natural texture many homeowners want, plus it comes in a variety of types of wood, stains, and other designs. Many people find this natural appearance the top answer to the question, "why choose hardwood flooring."
In contrast, laminate's design layer attempts to copy the natural appearance of wood. From a distance, it does its job.
However, a closer inspection of laminate flooring shows repeated patterns and textures. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for in that higher-quality laminate looks the most like real hardwood.
Why choose hardwood flooring? Well, one of the reasons has to do with its impressive durability.
One of the pros of hardwood flooring is that it can last the lifetime of your home. The only catch to this is unusual circumstances such as flooding.
In general, hardwood is not recommended in wet areas of your home. This is because it can cause the wood to warp.
The same can be said about areas of high heat such as above radiant heating systems. The heat produced from these systems often shrinks the wood and opens up joints leaving the wood misshapen.
In contrast, laminate flooring has a significantly shorter lifespan compared to hardwood flooring. In most cases, it only lasts about 10 years before it needs replacing. However, it has greater durability regarding water and heat.
This is because laminate is built to be water- and heat-resistant. However, it's still not recommended for areas such as bathrooms since water can make its way into joints, causing swelling.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Both laminate flooring and hardwood flooring are relatively easy to care for. Feel free to sweep and vacuum on either without fear of scuffs or damages.
However, when it comes to mopping, make sure to use the right products. For example, hardwood should only be mopped with a damp mop and a cleaner intended for wood. You should never use a soaking wet mop to clean hardwood if you want to avoid warping.
The same is generally true for laminate flooring. Use a damp mop with laminate floor cleaner.
Additionally, neither floor type typically needs waxing or polishing. In fact, these processes can actually damage your floors.
While laminate floors need replacing after about 10 years, you can increase the longevity of your hardwood by periodically refinishing or recoating it as it wears.
Installing hardwood vs laminate flooring is quite different in that hardwood flooring is quite a lengthy process. After the hardwood planks are in place, they need to be sanded and finished.
In comparison, laminate flooring is low maintenance. The edges of each plank snap together. Plus, it does not require any additional sanding or finishing.
While some DIY-ers feel comfortable installing laminate flooring, we recommend a professional install hardwood flooring. They will help you choose the right wood for your home and make the installation process as stress-free as possible.
We've discussed the pros of hardwood and laminate flooring and the cons of each, but how do they compare regarding cost? Obviously, it depends on the quality of your chosen material.
The bottom line is that hardwood flooring will cost more at $4 to $12 per square foot. This cost relates to the high quality and durability of wood flooring.
In comparison, laminate flooring is significantly cheaper at $1 to $3 per square foot. However, it's possible to get higher-quality laminate for as much as $10 per square foot. As we said, the higher in quality, the more real it will look.
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Deciding Between Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring
When deciding between hardwood vs laminate flooring, you need to consider what is important to you.
If you want flooring that is low-cost, easy to install, and similar in look to wood, laminate might be the best option, especially if you are comfortable with the shorter lifespan.
However, if you want flooring that is good-quality, will last a lifetime, and looks like real wood, you need hardwood floors. The cost is higher, but the benefits often outweigh the cost.
Get Your Hardwood Flooring
Deciding on flooring for your home can be a challenge, especially given all of the factors involved in the decision-making process. Start by deciding what is most important to you.
Do you value cost over quality? Do you want to choose a flooring type that will last a lifetime? Answering questions like these will make your decision between hardwood vs laminate much easier.
If hardwood flooring is for you or you want to know more about it, contact us today for your free quote.