The differences between hardwood and laminate floors can be confusing at first and making a decision between the two can be tough given the tradeoffs. Hardwood is a higher-quality type of flooring and is cut from a tree. Laminate is particleboard with an image of hardwood placed on top, and then a layer of plastic covering that to form the laminate. When determining the best application for your needs, one should focus on the factors that are most important to you.
In terms of appearance, the differences between the two can be obvious. Real hardwood has a timeless appeal, unique texture variations of the grains and unexpected knots allowing no two planks to appear exactly alike. Laminate consists of pre-designed patterns that imitate the look of wood texture imprinted onto the floor surface. For this reason, repetition is unavoidable and identical patterns are repeated often making the laminate look not as genuine as real wood floors.
The durability of any flooring depends on the amount of foot traffic and adherence to the manufacturer’s care and maintenance recommendations. Hardwood floors can last 20-plus years with proper care and can also be refinished if they become damaged. Hardwood floors are organic and, therefore, are not scratch-, stain- and dent-resistant like their laminate competitors. Laminate floors are often harder than natural wood making them ideal for high traffic areas. If the laminate becomes chipped or damaged whole planks have to be replaced, as the floors cannot be refinished like hardwood. When it comes to moisture, real wood responds to fluctuations in humidity and temperature by bonding or warping. For this reason, most manufacturers do not recommend installing them in bathrooms or kitchens. Whereas, laminate floors have a high resistance to moisture and are often used for bathrooms and kitchens.
When comparing costs of hardwood versus laminate, your budget may decide which material is better suited for your project. Overall, hardwood is more expensive to buy and install. The stronger the wood, the more it will cost. There are also extra costs associated to finish, treat and wax the hardwood. With laminate the more you spend, the better-quality floors you will install. The materials are less expensive, and the installation cost is, on average, about 50 percent less than hardwood.
Care and Maintenance
Solid hardwood floors require a little more care versus laminate floors. Hardwood should be cleaned using special cleaners formulated to preserve and restore the finish, as universal cleaners and detergents can dull or permanently damage the finish. Laminate floors are much easier to care for and can be maintained with regular sweeping, dry mopping or wiping with a damp cloth.
Pets can sometimes mean trouble for floors, so it’s best to choose the option that can withstand the pet test. Waxed and finished hardwood floors fare well against nail scratches and pet waste. Unfinished hardwood floors are not ideal for pets as they are not moisture-resistant and can absorb waste. Laminate floors are less likely to scratch from a pets’ nails and are easy to clean pet hair from its smooth surface. Laminate is more water resistant and better for puppies or kittens being house trained, but be aware, pet waste can still make the floor smell, so it is crucial to clean up accidents right away.
If you are conflicted as to which floor is right for you, Wayne Wiles’ team of experts can help answer your questions and determine the application that is right for your project. Wayne Wiles offers a vast selection of floor coverings in a variety of brands to meet the needs of most homeowners. Contact us to schedule a free flooring estimate at (239) 204-5700.