If you’re in the process of remodeling or building a house, you’ve likely asked yourself what flooring option will be best for you and your family. If you’ve decided against carpet, you likely now find yourself toying with the idea of laminate vs hardwood flooring. There’s a lot of information out there, so we’ve compiled a complete recap of both options so you can make the best decision for your home. Read on if you’d like to learn more.
Hardwood Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring – What’s the Difference?
First, we should discuss what each flooring option actually is. Hardwood floors are a product manufactured from timber that you install and use as flooring. Hardwood flooring comes in a variety of forms – from oak to maple or even hickory hardwoods. You can choose from softwoods or hardwoods and even various designs and thicknesses. Hardwood flooring is generally considered timeless and can last for hundreds of years if maintained properly.
On the other hand, laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic product blended together with a lamination process. It emulates the look of wood and is generally a more budget-friendly option. Laminate is also considered to be highly durable and scratch/stain resistant.
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Look and Feel
For the most part, traditional hardwood flooring is going to be more timeless and more attractive. Since laminate flooring is trying to imitate hardwood flooring, it’s hard to beat the real deal. From a distance, most laminate flooring (when installed correctly) can look like real hardwoods, but up close you can generally tell the difference in quality.
Without a doubt, if you’re choosing solely based on appearance, hardwoods are the way to go. However, we know that appearance isn’t the only factor when choosing flooring. Things like durability and cost are also big factors.
Durability – Which Stands the Test of Time?
Have you ever seen a home renovation show where the owners pull up the carpet to reveal beautiful, old hardwood flooring? Most of the time these hardwood floors are very old. When cared for, hardwood flooring can last many lifetimes. The instances where hardwoods get ruined are usually under extreme amounts of distress from events like flooding. For upkeep, we recommend recoating and refinishing periodically, which will ensure your flooring lasts for years to come.
Laminate flooring is also a great option if you’re looking for durability, but in general, it’s not as durable as hardwoods. Laminate flooring is usually good for up to 10 years, but beyond that, you may start to see more wear and tear. Also worth noting is that laminate usually doesn’t do well under extreme pressure – If you drop a heavy enough object laminate has been known to dent.
In terms of maintenance, both options are relatively the same. Both can easily be swept with a broom or cleaned with a mop. In general, most hardwoods these days are sealed with polyurethane varnish which shouldn’t be polished or waxed. Similarly, laminate flooring does not need to be waxed.
Cost and Installation
If you’re looking for easy installation, laminate flooring is the way to go. While hardwoods are usually installed by professionals and take a certain skill set, laminate flooring is much easier to install by yourself. Hardwoods require a lot of sanding and finishing, but laminates simply click together at the edges and don’t need fasteners and glue. Another point to note is that most hardwood flooring companies, like Macdonald Hardwoods, only sell pre-finished hardwoods. The majority of the time, the sanding is done at the mill.
Additionally, if cost is a major factor in your flooring decision, laminate flooring is generally much cheaper than hardwood floors. The average hardwood flooring cost is between $4 to $12 per square foot, with an average cost of about $8 per square foot. This of course depends on the type of hardwood – oak, maple, bamboo and others will all have different costs associated. On the other hand, laminate ranges from around $1 to $3 per square foot.
If you’re on a budget, there’s nothing wrong with laminate flooring. It can give you the same look as traditional hardwoods but for a fraction of the price. However, if you want to invest in your home, nothing beats hardwood floors. The timeless flooring option can last lifetimes if maintained properly and instantly adds value and style to your home. For more tips on choosing hardwood flooring options, check out this blog post.