When it comes to hardwood vs laminate flooring, should you splurge on great quality or save your money? Laminate floors, which are made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures (and then covered in photographic paper), mimic hardwood well, but they don’t offer the same natural beauty. Hardwood is lovely but expensive, while laminate is inexpensive but has a short lifespan. Of course every homeowner has different priorities, but we would like to make your decision a little simpler by pitting the two options against each other head-to-head in a variety of categories: durability, maintenance, aesthetics, longevity, and (of course) cost. Hardwood vs laminate flooring: who do you think will be the victor?
Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring
DURABILITY. Laminate flooring is more durable than hardwood because it is made from pressed wood. It will resist scratches, moisture, and foot traffic, making it a good choice in homes with pets or kids. If you’re worried about your cat’s claws or you often wear high heels around the house, stick with laminate. Hardwood can be scratched and worn down, and it will fade in areas of high sunlight. If you don’t mind the character that comes with age, hardwood is a great choice.
MAINTENANCE. Hardwood is usually easily repaired. It can be sanded and refinished to eliminate imperfections. Laminate, on the other hand, is difficult to fix. If the pieces were snapped together when installed, you might be able to find a replacement piece, but even then, a perfect match isn’t guaranteed. If you’re lucky, the manufacturer will offer repair kits to take care of minor chips and touch-ups. Laminate is, however, easier to clean and doesn’t require polishing or refinishing like true hardwood.
LONGEVITY. Hardwood can last 75-100 years if it is maintained well and resurfaced every 10-20 years. Laminate will only last 20-40 years.
COST. Because it is harvested from trees (some of which are quite exotic), hardwood is much more expensive than laminate. Where laminate is only $2-$11 per square foot, hardwood generally costs between $6 and $25 per square foot (or more if you choose speciality woods). And when it comes to installation, laminate flooring is about half the price of hardwood.
AESTHETICS. There’s a reason people are willing to put out the big bucks for hardwood. It looks beautiful, rich, and real (because it is real wood). Laminate wears a fairly convincing mask, but it can’t compare to the beauty of true hardwood. Plus, hardwood will add a lot of resell value to the home. Aesthetically, the only reason to choose laminate is if you’re worried about raising the floor height.
So, hardwood vs laminate flooring? It all depends on what you’re looking for. If you have the money, hardwood floor is beautiful, long-lasting, and will add a lot of value to your home. Laminate, however, is a nice alternative if you can’t swing for real wood. Plus, it’s easier to clean and won’t easily be scratched or worn down. The most important thing is that you don’t skimp on the installation, which can make or break your flooring choice. Good luck!
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