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Interior of luxury and beautiful living room with laminate flooring

Laminate vs. Hardwood Flooring: Which is the Right Flooring Type for Your Home?

Laminate vs. Hardwood Flooring: Which is the Right Flooring Type for Your Home?

Interior of luxury and beautiful living room with laminate flooring

Choosing your flooring is one of the essential steps of designing any room in your home. It might not be the first thing on your list of things to do during construction or home renovation, but the type of flooring you get can affect your room’s overall aesthetic and how it ties the other elements of the room. But aside from things like color, texture, and gradient, you should also consider the kind of flooring you’re using.

So which is the right flooring type for your home? Laminate flooring is recommended if you want flooring that’s moisture and heat resistant, easy to install and clean, and inexpensive. Meanwhile, hardwood flooring would be the ideal choice for someone who’s looking for flooring with a longer lifespan, easy cleaning and maintenance, more property value, and a more natural appearance. Choosing the right flooring type for your home all depends on your aesthetic preference and budget.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Flooring: Pros and Cons

Here are some of the key points you should know when choosing between laminate flooring and hardwood flooring.

Laminate Flooring Hardwood Flooring
Overview
Laminate planks consist of multiple layers: a core layer of high-density fiberboard, a  layer that gives it the appearance of certain types of wood, stone, or metal, and a transparent outer wear layer to protect the image. Some flooring also come with an extra backing layer beneath the base to repel moisture. Solid hardwood floors are milled from timber acquired from certain types of trees. The result is dense and durable solid hardwood floors that withstand wear and tear, and can be sanded and treated to remove signs of wear and tear over time.
Pros
More options. Laminate flooring gets its designs from its printed image layer, so you can find different types of wood designs. You can also opt for wood or metal image layers.

Affordable. Laminate flooring is more inexpensive than hardwood flooring.

Easy installation. The edges and ends of laminate flooring are designed to snap together, making it easy to install for those with no experience.

Long-term investment. If maintained properly, hardwood floors can last for up to 10 years. In comparison, other types of flooring need to be replaced after a shorter period of time.

Looks more real. Laminate flooring has a uniform appearance, which makes it look inauthentic. Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, has slight variations in shade and color, which looks more realistic and authentic.

Spill-resistant. Most hardwood flooring is resistant to spills, unlike laminate flooring that needs spills removed immediately.

Cons
Prone to moisture damage. Not good for areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements without a moisture barrier. Installing laminate floors in the kitchen is okay, but you have to immediately clean up any spills.

Can’t be refinished. The image layer isn’t made of real wood, so a tile or plank will have to be replaced.

Fake appearance. Laminate flooring may give the appearance of a wood finish, but it may not really look like real wood.

Prone to termites. Can be prone to termite infestations if not maintained carefully.

More expensive. Compared to laminate flooring and other wooden tile and planks, hardwood flooring is more expensive. The cost of installing it can also be more expensive, since sub-flooring is necessary.

 High maintenance. To maintain the quality of hardwood floors, you need to polish it every four years and then take care to sweep away debris and handle your flooring carefully.

Choosing Your Flooring Based on Different Factors

Living room in a luxury apartment with laminate flooring.

There’s no right or wrong answer when choosing the types of flooring to get for your home. However, it’s best to consider several factors to understand the implications of buying either. That way, you can weigh out every major difference and see which one is the best option for you in the long run. Here are the factors you need to consider.

Appearance

The appearance of both laminated flooring and hardwood flooring can affect the overall look of your room.

Solid hardwood flooring is an attractive option because its texture and material is difficult to imitate. Each hardwood plank or tile is made from certain types of trees that produce dense timber, creating a unique pattern of color combinations per piece. These can be stained to match the colors in your home, but you may also opt to leave it as is.

Laminate wood flooring, on the other hand, has its strengths too. Laminate flooring has the advantage of customizability, since the image layers can vary from piece to piece. From afar or at certain angles, it can look like real wood flooring. However, upon closer inspection, it’s easy to tell laminate flooring isn’t real hardwood. Newer laminate tiles have a random repeat pattern to mimic the appearance of hardwood flooring, but the repetitive marks can easily be distinguished as fake wood.

Verdict: Hardwood flooring is better in appearance as a solid wood flooring with authentic wood markings that can be difficult to mass produce. Laminate can also look good, but it has a more artificial appearance.

Water and Heat Resistance

Both hardwood and laminate flooring are not the best choice for water resistant flooring, so they shouldn’t be your first options as flooring for rooms like your bathroom, laundry room, or basement.

Hardwood flooring can withstand minor spills, making it okay to use in areas like kitchens. But in case of flooding or standing water, this can seep into your wood and cause cupping and warping. It’s also not recommended as a flooring over your heating systems, since wood tends to shrink and expand with humidity and temperature. If you still want to opt for hardwood flooring, consider engineered hardwood flooring, though this can be more expensive than regular hardwood.

Meanwhile, the wear layer of laminate flooring is water resistant and can protect it from minor spills on the surface of the board. But too much water seeps into the edges and eventually makes its way to the fiberboard, which can cause swelling and chipping that can affect the surrounding boards. However, in terms of heat resistance, it can withstand strong heating systems without coming off or shrinking.

Verdict: Laminate flooring is generally better when it comes to moisture and heat resistance, but it shouldn’t be your first choice for places like the bathroom or laundry room. But if you prefer real wood and want water and heat resistant flooring, you can have your hardwood flooring modified to resist moisture and heat. 

Maintenance and Repairs

If maintained correctly, hardwood floors can last up to 10 years. Maintenance for hardwood floors means recoating and refinishing periodically, depending on the foot traffic in your home. In case of severe damage, it’s possible to sand down and refinish hardwood floors, though most hardwood floors can only be sanded up to four times. This makes hardwood flooring the more practical option if you’re thinking long term or want to install wood flooring in high-traffic areas.

Meanwhile, laminate flooring can last for less than 10 years before it loses its quality. But with proper care and maintenance, laminate flooring can last for much longer. In terms of repairability, laminate flooring takes on damage similar to hardwood flooring, except it cannot be refinished or sanded. There’s no option to repair laminate flooring, so you’re left with no choice but  to replace the affected tile. It’s also best to buy extra pieces of laminate flooring tiles so that when some older tiles get worn out eventually, you can have them replaced without worrying whether your local laminate flooring tile shop still has the exact same patterns with your tiles or not. 

Verdict: Hardwood flooring is the more practical solution when it comes to maintenance and repairs, since laminate flooring wears out more easily, can’t be repaired, and needs tile or plank replacement right away, especially if the scratches or tears on them are too obvious and unsightly..

Cleaning and Care

Hardwood flooring only needs fairly simple cleaning methods. Sweeping and vacuuming is acceptable, though the vacuum used should have brushes that don’t scratch the flooring. For best results, use a hardwood vacuum that’s designed to be safe for solid hardwood flooring. Older types of hardwood flooring needed to be polished or waxed, but newer flooring materials are already coated with polyurethane varnish and shouldn’t be polished or waxed. Hardwood can be cleaned with a damp mop, but avoid soaking it too much. After mopping, wipe away any excessive moisture that’s still on the floor.

Laminate flooring can use sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping. For best results, use laminate floor cleaners rather than all-purpose floor cleaners. Wipe away any excess moisture after mopping to avoid damage.

Verdict: Both are equally easy to clean, but make sure to be extra careful with what ingredients your cleaning agents consist of so as to avoid damaging your flooring.

Installation

Hardwood flooring requires professional installation to avoid damage during the installation process. After sub-flooring is installed, hardwood should be carefully installed to avoid any issues that can affect quality in the long run. You can buy finished or unfinished hardwood floors, and the latter needs to be sanded and finished after installation. 

Laminate installation, in comparison, is much easier and can be a DIY project even if you have no experience. Laminate flooring planks click together and require fasteners or glue.

Verdict: Laminate flooring is much easier to install than hardwood flooring.

Overall Costs

Hardwood is much more expensive, starting at $12 per square foot. However, hardwood flooring made with a common type of wood like oak or maple only costs up to $5 per square foot. You also have to consider the cost of installing sub-flooring and having professional contractors with experience in hardwood flooring installation. There are also the costs of maintaining and polishing your floors. However, if maintained correctly, hardwood flooring can last longer than a century.

The cost of laminate flooring, on the other hand, is much more affordable at up to $3 per square foot. However, you also have the option to customize your own laminate flooring, which can also cost up to $12 per square foot for quality laminate flooring material. Installation is much simpler, so you can choose between hiring contractors or installing the flooring yourself. In terms of maintaining costs, laminate flooring can’t be refinished. So in case your flooring has too many scratches from wear and tear, you’ll need to replace the tile or plank.

Verdict: Laminate flooring is much more affordable than hardwood floor, including maintenance costs.

Lifespan

If properly maintained over time, hardwood flooring can last for 10 years or more. This includes all the refinishing and sanding required to erase damages like scratches. The quality of laminate floors, on the other hand, can last only less than 10 years (or more for rooms with low foot traffic) before it loses its quality. Because laminate can’t be repaired, the entire floor may need to be completely replaced to maintain a uniform quality.

Verdict: Hardwood flooring has a longer lifespan and can last up to a century if maintained properly. This can be the better solution compared to the durability of laminate flooring.

Property Value

If you’re planning to sell your home in the future, hardwood flooring can significantly affect your property value up to 5% of your home value. However, this should be in good condition, otherwise your buyer will have to consider the costs of having a professional sand and treat your flooring.

Laminate flooring does not have a significant effect on property value, but it can add a visual appeal to a room. This makes it a fast and affordable option for homeowners looking to spruce up their home before listing their property on the market to attract potential buyers.

Verdict: Hardwood flooring can increase property value, but laminate flooring doesn’t. However, laminate flooring is also a good option for those looking to spruce up their home to attract potential buyers.

Visit Zothex Flooring for High Quality Flooring

There’s no wrong answer when choosing between laminate flooring and hardwood flooring. Your decision ultimately comes down to your preference: if you want real-looking wood that can last you a lifetime and withstand years of wear and tear, hardwood flooring is the better option. But if you want something more affordable and versatile with easy installation, laminate flooring is your best bet.At Zothex Flooring, we can help you find the right flooring to help you achieve your aesthetic vision. We have a wide range of designs and flooring types you can choose from. Visit any of our showrooms or call us for a virtual tour and explore your options at the comfort of your own home.