For hardwood floor lovers, laminate vs hardwood flooring offers an alternative that provides the same effect for a lot less money and fewer headaches!
And in many cases it is the better choice. Not only does it look like real "wood", in most situations it will out-perform real hardwoods...
Since its beginning, improvements have been a constant endeavor with laminate flooring manufacturers, like Alloc, Mannington or Armstrong, to make this flooring material a "perfect" product. They are making progress but not there yet.
With hardwood flooring not much has changed since the 70s to improve its tolerance of normal living conditions. Other than developing a new type of finish, to give it more protection, there isn't much that can change its profile. It is what it is, a charming, natural product.
But lets be honest, there are some areas where any kind of wood flooring products are not the best choice. There is risk involved if you use wood in a kitchen or bathroom. AND if the flooring is porous, like hardwoods, it is a fort for harboring bacteria and germs. Not good!
One significant difference between laminate vs hardwood flooring is their life expectancies. With proper care hardwoods will last many decades, where laminate wood flooring, given the same kind of care, has an average life span of 7-15 years. Quite a difference, but so is the price between the two!
For many, having the same type of flooring that will out last them isn't a problem. Hardwood floors add more value to a home than laminate wood will, and may be the ticket. Hardwood flooring is expensive to buy and costly to maintain.
BUT if you're the type that likes to change things around every now and then, laminate wood flooring is a good investment. It is affordable (especially compared to hardwoods), looks like the real thing, is easy to maintain and you won't feel bad, financially anyway, when it's time to replace it.
Waterproof or Not?Laminate vs Hardwood Flooring
When I hear "waterproof" I think unaffected by moisture, don't you? Well that isn't the case with either laminate or hard woods. Wood flooring manufacturers use "waterproof" as a selling point for their product, but the truth is wood and any kind of moisture does not mix well!
The thing with laminate vs hardwood flooring is neither one is totally "waterproof". Too much exposure to moisture and hardwoods will expand and as it dries contract. This type of action will cause all sorts of issues with finished hardwood floors.
Providing you get the right kind, laminate wood will tolerate moisture much better than hardwoods. In addition to the Aluminum Oxide surface coating, many brands of laminated wood have HPL (high pressure laminate) that is constructed with sealed waxed edges and water resistant cores that increase its water resistance ability, but it too will buckle, or worse, if exposed to long to any type of moisture.
But between the two, laminate wood tolerates moisture, mold and bacteria far better than hardwoods. Seriously, for wet areas I would avoid using wood flooring materials of any kind and look at other types of flooring options such as cork , vinyl , rubber or ceramics ... This is my opinion.
Impact EffectsLaminate vs Hardwood Flooring
As hard and durable as hardwood is, it can be easily dinged from impacts! Hard to believe, but true! Drop a sharp edged or heavy object on a hardwood floor and it will leave a mark...
Do the same thing with laminate wood and the impact will have less affect... The Aluminum Oxide surface coating on laminate is incredibly tough, hard as a rock, and offer superb protection on whatever material is coated with it!
Scratching The WoodLaminate vs Hardwood Flooring
Laminate wood may scratch from the same reasons as hardwoods, but the surface coating (aluminum oxide/melamine) offers much more protection than any finish on hardwoods! Taking additional preventive measures like outside entry door mats, sweep requently and NOT dragging heavy objects across the flooring will also help protect your floors and increase the life of the laminate wood.
Hardwood floors scratch very easily. Using preventive measures is always a good ides. When moving anything across the floor, do NOT drag it unless there is a device (floor guard) to protect the floor and prevent scratching it, ALWAYS lift it instead.
Outside grit will scratch hardwoods, too, so it is very important to keep it swept up and to use area rugs in front of outside entry doors to prevent bringing grit inside.
Laminate vs Hardwood Flooring
Although not porous like hardwoods, laminate will stain from materials like paint and ink, but not usually from food items.
Stains can be easily removed with a small amount of acetone or denatured alcohol and a clean, preferably white, cloth. If you use a colored cloth it may cause additional staining.
Hardwoods are porous and may absorb a stain like an ink blotter if not cleaned up quickly, even with a good finish on the wood you have to be very careful not to let something like wine or blueberries just sit, they need to be wiped up quickly to prevent staining, especially if the finish on the wood is in poor condition.
MaintenanceLaminate vs Hardwood Flooring
Laminate wood floors require very little care and maintenance. Just sweep often and light mopping when needed. No special products are necessary. Swiffer products are perfect for laminated floors. Another thing with laminate wood is you can replace single planks without replacing the whole floor, but it cannot be sanded....
Hardwood floors are easy enough to sweep or dust, but mopping requires cleaning products made for hardwood floors. Eventually, any hardwood floor will need refinishing and can be sanded may times over. However, unlike laminate wood floors, maintenance can be fairly costly. If it is necessary to replace any of the flooring, it can be done board by board without replacing the whole floor...
InstallationLaminate vs Hardwood Flooring
Most laminate wood flooring materials have a snap/click floating floor system, no nails or gluing, that make it easy to put the materials together without any special tools.
However, difficulty can be a problem if a lot of board cutting and details (corners, doorways, etc) to go around is involved or just getting the flooring area itself prepared for a new floor. It's true that a do-it-yourselfer (DIY) would probably have no problems, but a beginner may need some professional help, so just incase have one lined up!
MOST lmainate wood flooring materials come packaged with installation instructions. If the one you choose DOES NOT your flooring distributor or big-box store SHOULD have them readily available for you.
Installing hardwood floors can be quite difficult and tedious... It also requires special tools (which you can rent if you need to) and skills. Unless you have some experience (maybe you've done this before) you are better off hiring a professional installer...
Once the installer signs the contract (be sure to get a signed contract/bids) they are responsible for the materials during installation, as in if they make a mistake they pay for it... Hardwood floors are expensive, and if a mistake is made during installation it just increases the cost of the materials, this applies to any flooring material you choose..
Comparing laminate vs hardwood flooring shows the advantages of one from the other. Neither is perfect, but it all depends on your needs and how either one will fit into your lifestyle...