Hardwood Flooring Vs. Laminate Flooring

Hardwood Flooring Vs. Laminate Flooring

When it comes to flooring, there’s nothing quite like wood. It’s natural, timeless and elegant look has been cherished throughout the world across the ages. It’s one of humanity’s principal building materials and it’s one of our favorites when it comes to covering our floors.

Wooden floors provide a nice feel underfoot and they help warm up households located in colder regions. Wood is obviously a prized building material, which is precisely the reason why the prices that it commands continue to rise.

Homeowners who want wooden floors but are working with a tight budget are often forced to look for alternatives. Among the viable ones is laminate. Laminate flooring is a composite material made up of engineered wood products heated at high temperatures and layers of melamine for support. The end result is a durable substitute that mimics the appearance of wood at a fraction of the cost.

But is the alternative really better than the real thing? Or do you get better value from real hardwood over something that imitates it? We address those questions on a point-by-point basis to help you make the smart choice when deciding which one to get. Here goes:

Cost

Hardwood doesn’t come cheap. The more exotic the tree where the lumber comes from, the more expensive the wood flooring gets per square foot.

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South American, Russian and Chinese wood flooring has to be shipped long distances and the entry of these goods is subject to significant tariffs. That said, it’s easy to understand why high-end wood flooring costs as much as it does. For that reason, hardwood usually requires a significant investment if you want to have it installed in your household.

It’s in pricing where laminate flooring has the biggest edge over wood. Because it’s only partially composed of engineered wood products, it doesn’t have a high manufacturing cost. This enables suppliers to sell it at much lower prices than natural wood. For homeowners who want a wooden look on their floors but don’t have the budget that it requires, laminate is an alternative that makes a lot of sense.

Looks

Laminate emulates the look of real wood by having a surface layer with an image of real wood printed on it. From 10-15 feet away, it’s not easy to distinguish this flooring material from actual hardwood. However, a closer look will reveal the truth. Hardwood’s natural detail shows up close and it doesn’t have the artificial shine that laminate usually sports.

As such, we’d have to give the advantage to hardwood in the looks category just because there’s no substitute for the real thing. If an unnatural look bothers you for whatever reason, skip laminate and go with hardwood. If visuals aren’t high on your priority list, by all means go with laminate and save yourself a significant amount of money.

Feel

The feel of hardwood flooring to the feet can vary depending on the style you choose. Finished hardwood is smooth while scraped hardwood feels textured. Because wood is a good insulator, it feels warmer than concrete and natural stone.

Laminate feels warm, too. The difference is that it usually feels glossy because of its top melamine layer. To some homeowners, this feels nice to the feet. For more discerning people, glossy is unnatural and undesirable.

Our take? The same principle for looks holds true with feel: there’s no substitute for the real thing. If a natural feel is high on your priority list, go with hardwood. If you find the touch differential negligible, then strongly consider laminate for the job.

Durability

Both laminate flooring and hardwood are durable in their own distinct ways. Laminate is resistant to scratches thanks to a protective layer that’s built into it. Laminate is also impervious to moisture, which means it cannot be damaged by water easily. However, its lifespan is only about 10-15 years. Around that time, wear and tear will start to show and you may have to replace it entirely.

Wood, on the other hand, can be dented, scratched and damaged by water. Textured styles do a better job of concealing light damage compared to finished variants. However, hardwood has the advantage of a much longer lifespan. When properly maintained, hardwood can last for a hundred years. The good thing about hardwood is that it can be repaired even if it sustains surface damage. It can be scraped and refurbished to make it look like new.

Maintenance

Both hardwood and laminate are relatively easy to maintain. Simple wiping and mopping can deal with most spills and dirt. However, some types of wood are more susceptible to stains, fungal growth and termites. You may have to ask professionals to deep-clean natural wood floors from time to time. You may also have to get a pest control service provider to inspect your home’s woodwork for termites. If infestation is detected, treatment will be administered and this comes at a price.

Having said that, laminate takes the advantage as far as maintenance is concerned. It doesn’t stain, it’s immune to termites and fungi, and it’s easier to replace than hardwood flooring. It may not last a lifetime, but you’ll definitely not have to worry about it within its life cycle.

Resale Value

As much as we all love our homes, it’s a fact of life that people relocate from one place to another for a variety of reasons. When the need for a permanent move arises, the most practical course of action is to put up your house for sale. An appraisal process usually ensues and every detail of your property is scrutinized to assess its fair market value.

As you may guess, the kind of flooring that you have installed plays a big part in how much resale value your house has. Laminate is a semi-permanent flooring material and as such, it will not fetch your property a great price tag when it’s all said and done. Conversely, permanent and upscale wood is attractive to people who are in the market for a new home. It’s bound to make your place easier to sell at a much more favourable price compared to what you’d get with laminate.

The bottom line? Your investment in hardwood will pay off when it’s time to put up a house for sale. It may cost more up front, but it can certainly pay dividends later on.

Those are the main things you should consider when trying to choose between hardwood and laminate flooring for your household. This is essentially a debate about what you value and what your priorities are. If you’re leaning towards a viable material at a friendly price, laminate is just the thing for you. If you’re in the market for a more serious investment that exudes more style and comfort, take hardwood and we guarantee you won’t regret it.