If you are planning on replacing your floors you may want to consider using either laminate or hardwood floors. The selection process may be confusing and daunting at times, in addition you’ll always get different views and information from one salesperson to another.
If you speak to a professional installer or contractor who had experienced working with both products over the years you’ll find that most of them would favor hardwood floors. However, do not rule out laminate floors in your selection process, instead be aware of the advantages and/or disadvantages of both.
Comparisons between laminate and hardwood floors:
1) Material and Method: Laminate wood floors are photographed image with repeating patterns while hardwoods are natural or milled from trees and no one piece is alike.
2) Lifespan: Laminate is limited with less than 20 years while hardwood floors will last 20-100 years depending largely on maintenance, care, and type of style chosen (engineered/solid).
3) Maintenance: Laminate wood is easier to maintain while hardwood floors are harder. Some clean obsessed people complain about the presence of foot prints after cleaning laminate wood. Nowadays, hardwood floor maintenance has improved greatly compared to 20-30 years ago with the emergence of pre-finished wood which does not require waxing the way it used to.
4) Refinishing: Laminate floors cannot be refinished or stained while hardwood floors can be. So in case you decide one day you like a darker stained wood, you cannot apply new finish to laminate while with hardwood it can be done.
5) Repairs: Laminate floors are more difficult to repair compared to hardwood floors. With laminate, you have to almost remove several planks before you can fix one, but with hardwood, depending on the way they were installed, you can cut one piece with a saw and put in another without removing the other planks. You can attempt to do this with laminate, but it will not look as good in the end.
6) Replacement for Discontinued Floors: Finding discontinued flooring with laminate wood is more difficult than that of hardwood floors because some brand lines of laminate will get discontinued and finding the right replacement is tough or, sometimes, impossible. Stock up on extras for future repairs and renovations if you are buying laminate.
7) Discoloration: Laminate woods are fade resistant in general, while hardwood floors will darken or turn amber, depending on the species of wood used.
8) Durability: Laminate floors are scratch resistant and more durable than hardwood floors. It’s good when you have dogs running around in your house. Also termites do not go for laminate wood, they go for hardwood floors.
9) Price: Generally, laminate wood is cheaper than hardwood floors. You can install laminate wood in the entire house for half the price it would cost you if you are using hardwood floors. One thing you can consider also is that if you are planning on selling your home in the future, laminate wood cannot increase the resale value of home as much as hardwood does. A house with real hardwood floors can sell faster than a house with similar look using laminate wood. So take this in consideration when budgeting for your floors, you may pay more for a hardwood floor upfront but you will get that back and more when you do sell your house.
10) Ease of Installation: Laminate woods are easier to install than hardwood. Harwood traditionally are installed by nailing to the sub flooring, but nowadays you can glue them or click them on too. Laminate doesn’t need to be nailed nor glued, and are installed as floating floors, they can sometimes be installed on top of existing floors (except carpet), while with hardwood you have to make sure that you remove the old flooring first.
No matter what you choose, make sure to choose what would work with your budget, lifestyle, and needs so that you will be happy with the choice you make. I would suggest taking your time, because the choice is something you’ll be living with for years to come.