Home » Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood – What’s the Difference?

Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood – What’s the Difference?

Hardwood remains a popular quality flooring material around the world, as it is naturally attractive, timeless and valuable.

However, other flooring options such as laminate comes with some benefits that may give you a reason to choose it.

Here is the difference between laminate flooring vs hardwood:

Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood


Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood

Hardwood flooring comprises of 3/4-inch- thick boards of pure solid wood cut from a tree. The planks usually milled with a smooth top surface have tongue-and-groove edges that interlock to hold them together during installation.

Hardwood floors may come prefinished or unfinished based on what a homeowner has ordered.

Laminate flooring is made of fiberboard with a photographic layer that resemble wood placed on top and protected by a clear plastic surface.

The floor boards usually1/4 to 1/2-inch- thick are manufactured with an interlocking edges that secure the boards together without nailing or glue.

Installation

Hardwood floors requires professional installers with special tools. The floor is installed by blind-nailing the boards or planks to the subfloor.

Once the installation is complete, the floor is stained and coated with a protective polyurethane layer.

Prefinished hardwood floors comes already finished at the factory and ready for installation without refinishing.

Laminate floors can be installed by non-professionals thus the best for DIY. During flooring, the planks click and lock together over a foam underlayment without need for nails or glue.

The floor is thus regarded as floating floor. Installation of a hardwood floor is therefore harder, expensive and time consuming as compared to laminate floors.

Appearance

A hardwood flooring has a rich natural ingrain color that makes it attractive. Hardwood floor is undeniably a loved floor by most homeowners due to its prestigious appearance.

The beauty cuts across every species of a hardwood floor. Any hardwood flooring is naturally attractive than any quality laminate.

Laminate floors resembles a hardwood floor from a distance. Although when you move closer, you can notice a difference from the real hardwood.

Even a quality laminate with integrated surface grain texture mimicking wood is still far from the perfect.

A hardwood floor is therefore highly visually appealing as compared to laminate flooring.

Cleaning

Hardwood floors are easy to clean using a soft broom, a dust mop or a vacuum. This removes surface dirt debris and dust.

Deep cleaning after several months using a damp mop with a wood cleaner helps remove ingrained dirt and grime.

Laminate floors similarly are simple to clean using a vacuum, broom or dust mop. A laminate cleaner with a damp mop is used once in a while to remove sticky dirt.

For both laminate and hardwood, excessive water should not be used during cleaning.

Products should be tested on a small area before using on a complete floor. Be sure to follow floor manufacturer’s instruction.

Durability

Hardwood floors can last up to a century or more with good care. Things that can shorted the life of a hardwood floor include flooding, fire and vandalism.

Dents from heavy objects, scratches and fading can be fixed by sanding and refinishing and the wood will look new again.

Laminate floors can last up to 20 years with good maintenance.

Although laminate has a good resistance to dents, scratches and moisture it can seriously get affected by water infiltration, scratches, and UV radiations from the sun. 

A laminate floor can only be replaced when damaged. It cannot be sanded or refinished.

Maintenance

Hardwood flooring requires proper cleaning on regular basis. To restore the surface finish and offer protection to underlying wood, hardwood requires refinishing periodically.

After 5 to 8 years, sanding and refinishing has to be done by a professional. Badly damaged floor boards need to be replaced.

Laminate flooring has to be cleaned and protected from water infiltration.

Since there is no refinishing or sanding required, it cost less to maintain a lamina as compared to hardwood.

Resale value

Hardwood flooring typically adds real estate value to a home.

Being a premium flooring material, most homebuyers are attracted to its natural grain color, durability and its sense of luxury.

Laminate flooring hardly adds real estate value to a home, although considered better than some traditional floorings such as carpet and vinyl.

Resistance

Solid hardwood floors are vulnerable to water or heat. Flooding, poling water on the surface or heat can damage a hardwood floor.

It should therefore not be installed in wet areas or over a radiant heating system. Engineered hardwood floor has a good resistance thus best for such conditions.

Laminate flooring is resistant to moisture, heat and stains. Water infiltration into the joints can cause damage to the edges and fiberboards.

Laminate surfaces should not be exposed to flooding or water. Laminate has a good resistance to heat and can be installed over radiant heating system.

Cost

Hardwood flooring costs between $4 and $12 per square foot and about $3 to $5 square foot in labor. This brings average cost per square to $8 in material.

Since installation requires hiring a professional, the overall cost of a hardwood floor is way much higher if compared to laminate flooring that anyone can install.

Laminate flooring costs between $2 and $8 per square foot although designer type of laminate may go for as much as $10 to $12 per square foot.

It is there true to say that, laminate floors can be purchased and installed at a fraction of the cost of a hardwood floor.

Varieties

Hardwood flooring comes in dozens of different wood species such cherry, walnut, oak, maple, hickory, ash, teak, birch, pine and more.

Hardwood flooring is also grouped into dark vs light hardwood floors. This gives a homeowner a wide choice of options to choose from.

Laminate flooring also comes in different texture and colors such as wood grain and polished stone look.

You can find any color you love although the cost won’t come close to real wood or marble.

Verdict

After comparison between laminate flooring vs hardwood, there is no dispute in saying that, hardwood flooring is durable, attractive, and adds real estate value.

However, laminate flooring can be a viable option if you want to install it over radiant heating system, when your budget is limited or you are just curious about laminate.

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