Laminate vs Hardwood Flooring

Installing a new floor in your home costs a lot of money and that is why you should make every decision rationally and precisely to avoid any kind of loss. To avoid making a mistake that could cost you a lot of money, it is important to know what kind of mistakes people make, and also know about the flooring choices that you have. This knowledge can help you decide better depending upon your requirements. One of the most common mistakes that homeowners make during this process is they mostly choose the wrong type of floor.

There are a lot of flooring options available in the market, and when you go there to buy online or offline, you would be tricked into believing that all kinds of floor types are similar but that’s not the case. All types of flooring are different from one another and they should be used in different conditions. For example, your kitchen, and high traffic area require a different type of floor, while your bathroom and basements require another type of floor. That is why it is very important that you learn about your needs for the flooring and then look at the different flooring options that you have and choose the one that suits your needs.

Laminate flooring and Hardwood flooring are two of the major flooring options that you have. Both are very good types of floors with their pros and cons. But deciding which one is right for you can be a tricky question to answer. First, you will have to look at the pros and cons of both and then you should decide. Before going toward the pros and cons of these floors and comparison, let’s learn about the difference between these two types of floor.

What is the difference?

Both of these floors are made from different materials through different processes. The hardwood floors are made by cutting the large tree trunks of different lumber species. These tree trunks are cut and shaped into the floor planks. Then these planks are finished and stained to be installed on the floors. While the laminate floor planks consist of multiple different layers instead of a single wooden plank. It has a core that is made from wood fibers, it also has an upper photographic layer that is responsible for the look and feel of the floor. Above this photographic layer, there is another layer for the protection of the design and structure of the laminate floor from water and moisture.

PropertiesHardwood FlooringLaminate Flooring
LifespanHardwood floors can last for up to 100 years.The lifespan of a laminate floor is up to 25 years.
Hardness and StrengthHardwood floors are extremely hard and have a higher density, and structural integrity.Laminate floors are softer, and they have less density and structural integrity.
Scratch ResistanceHardwood Floors have hard surfaces that can resist scratches.Laminate floors have a protective layer that helps prevent scratches.
Water ResistanceIt has less water resistance but more protection against water damages.Laminate floors have more resistance against water but are less protected from water damages.
AffordabilityHardwood floors cost a lot of money and are not an affordable flooring solution.Laminate floors cost only a fraction of what other flooring options cost, and that is why these are more affordable.
Maintenance Requirement + CostMore frequent maintenance is required, also it costs more to maintain.Less frequent maintenance is required, and it costs less to maintain.
Refinishing/Re-sandingHardwood floors can be refinished multiple times.Laminate floors cannot be refinished or re-sanded.
Ease of cleaningFrequent cleaning required but Easy-to-clean.Less frequent cleaning is required and is also easy to clean.
Pet/Child FriendlinessLess pet/child friendlyMore pet/child friendly

Laminate Flooring

Laminate Flooring as you know is synthesized from different materials that are stacked over one another in layers. Each layer is responsible for one specific property of the laminate floor. The back layer is the fourth layer in the laminate floor, above this, is the core of the floor, which is responsible for overall strength. It is made by the fusion of small fibers into one plank. Above this is a thin photographic applique layer of the laminate floor. Upon this layer, an image of the floor finish is printed through the lamination process. When the lamination completes, it is then coated with another layer of a transparent protective material. This material layer protects the floor from water damages and provides the floor all its properties of shine, nice touch, and smooth surface. These layers are combined to make a single plank of a laminate floor.

Laminate floors are a great choice for people who are looking forward to having a similar look to wooden or tile floors but do not want to pay that much money. It is a cost-effective flooring solution that can last for years if properly taken care of. There are a lot of other benefits of these laminate floors but there are also some disadvantages as well. Below is the detail about the pros and cons of laminate floors.

Pros of Laminate Flooring

Here are some of the pros of Laminate Flooring.

  • Light-resistance: Laminate floors have a protective layer over their surface that protects their appearance from color change and other light-related damages. This means you won’t have to worry about your floor slowly getting dark over time. This is something that hardwood floors do not have and that is why they change their colors. So, if you are looking forward to having a floor that can retain its color and would not require retaining at all, laminate floors are a better choice for your home.
  • Dent-resistance: It is also one of the most important benefits of laminate flooring. Laminate floors are more dent-proof in comparison to any other type of flooring. This is because they are made in layers of different materials, and these materials have meshed together with heavy pressure to create a plank. This plank can resist heavyweights over its surface and avoid any kind of dents from heavy furniture. Even if any part of the floor gets some dents due to weight, or pressure it will recover as soon as the pressure is lifted. So, if you want to have a floor that would have fewer dents, laminate flooring is one of the best options that you have.
  • Easy-to-clean: As you know that there is a transparent protective layer over the surface of the laminate floors. This protective layer makes it easier for these floors to be clean. This layer is very smooth and has no dents, scratches, or beveled edges. This means no dust or other particles will be trapped in any part of the floor. That is why you can clean the entire floor within minutes. It requires nothing more than just mopping or dusting occasionally to clean the entire laminate floor. So, if you are looking for an easy-to-clean floor, laminate flooring is also a choice that you have.
  • Easy-to-maintain: Apart from being easy to clean, these floors are also easy to maintain as well. This is because these floors are easy to install and repair. You do not need to know much about repairing or maintaining them. They are just like a puzzle piece and when one plank of the floor gets damaged, you can easily take it out and replace it with the new plank. But if you do not want to do that, you can also very easily repair that floor plank as well.
  • Easy-to-install: Another benefit of the Laminate flooring is that this is very easy-to-install. Consider it the best flooring choice for DIY people. The entire laminate floor consists of small floor planks that have edges similar to the puzzle pieces that fuse and create an entire floor. The installation process is easy and requires very short time and effort in comparison to any other floor type. The easy installation nature of these floors makes them a very suitable choice for the people who do not want to spend their money on getting the floor installed by experts and want to do it by themselves.
  • Water-resistance: This floor has multiple layers, the internal layers are not protected from water damages, but the back layer and transparent layer of the laminate floors have protection against water. The transparent layer is a water-repellent layer, it does not allow the water to reach the core of the plank and cause any damages. Even if the water reaches the core layer, it would not be able to create any swelling in that layer. This means your floor will remain more protected from all kinds of water damages for the long term. So, if you are looking forward to having a perfect floor that also has water-resistance, then laminate flooring is a great option for you.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Another benefit of these laminate floors is that they are very affordable. Not only in terms of buying but also installing, maintaining, cleaning, and repairing the floors as well. You can save a lot of money if you choose a laminate floor for your house. This cost-effectiveness of these floors makes them a very attractive choice for a lot of homeowners who want to renovate their floors but also want to save their money on flooring. 
  • Pet/Child Friendly: Laminate floors are considered child-friendly and pet-friendly because these floors get fewer scratches from the nails of pets and toys of kids. Not only this, these floors are not as hard as the other floors, meaning that if your kid or pet slips on the floor, it would not get hurt. So, if you are a parent or a pet owner and you are looking forward to having a perfect floor that is pet and kids friendly, Laminate flooring is an option that you have.
  • Scratch-resistance: Last but not least is the scratch-resistance ability of these laminate floors. The transparent protective layer protects these floors from getting scratched. This protective layer is also able to hide the scratches that are already present on the floor surface. So, if you are a homeowner and looking forward to having a floor that has scratch resistance, it is one of the best choices that you have.

Cons of Laminate Flooring

Here are some of the cons of Laminate Flooring.

  • “Fake” appearance: As you know that laminate floors do not have an original surface. Their surface is just an image and the photographic layer of a wooden or tile floor. That is why these floors appear to be fake as they do not provide a similar shine, and feel under the foot. That is why a lot of homeowners do not like this type of floor. So, if you are looking forward to having a floor with an original appearance, laminate flooring is not a great option for you.
  • Hard and noisy underfoot: Laminate floors are very hard when you are walking over their surface, they feel cold, uncomfortable, and noisy when you are walking. This is because these floor planks are very thin and when you are walking over them, the entire plank gets pressed under your feet, providing a rigid feel and deformation in the entire plank. And when you lift your feet, the floor plank gets back into its original shape, this deformation, and reformation of the plank causes noise. So, when you are walking over the laminate floor, it would produce more noise.
  • Susceptible to moisture damage: Although these floors have protective layers and chemicals that protect them from water and moisture-related damages still these floors get swelling over time if water or moisture reaches the core of the plank. That is also when pests also attack this type of floor. Moisture attracts pests and pests eat the wooden fiber in the core of laminate floors. This causes a lot of damage to the structure of floors and sometimes you have to replace the entire floor to get rid of the floor eating pests.
  • Shorter lifespan: Laminate floors with proper care can last for almost 2 decades but mostly they get destroyed due to multiple issues and require an early renovation of the floor. That is why their lifespan is shorter than other flooring types. So, if you are looking forward to having a long-lasting floor that would last an entire lifetime, laminate floors are not a good choice for you.
  • Cannot be refinished: Another drawback of laminate flooring is that you cannot refinish or resand, or restrain these floors. Once the protective layer gets damaged, and the photographic layer is exposed, the floor would get damaged. This has no other remedy than reinstalling the entire floor once again to get back the new look as they cannot be refinished.
  • Adds less value to the property: As you know that laminate flooring is a cheaper flooring solution. This means these floors cost less but they also add less value to your property. Buyers do not want a home with laminate flooring and that is why the demand for such homes is very rare, which reduces the price of the home. That means these floors add almost no value to your property. So, if you are a property owner and looking forward to selling the property, you should not choose laminate flooring.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is considered one of the best flooring solutions that can last up to a hundred years. These floors have ultimate strength, rigidity, and structural integrity. Different tree species have different hardness ratings and strength ratings but all of these are stronger than any other flooring option. Hardwood floor planks are not made, but they are cut from tree trunks. Trees of different species are cut and planks are carved out of these tree trunks. After cutting they go through a process of refining or refinishing.

These floor planks are then coated with protective materials such as polyurethane and stains of different colors and types to give a specific color and shade. Some hardwood floors are also sold unfinished so that they can be finished on the building site. Hardwood flooring is a perfect solution for your floor needs if you want a highly durable, long-lasting, resistant floor that provides a beautiful look and feels comfortable and warm under the feet. Below is a list of a few pros and cons of hardwood flooring that can help you decide better if you would want it in your home or not.

Pros of Hardwood Flooring

Here are some of the pros of hardwood flooring.

  • More variety: Hardwood flooring provides you a huge variety of colors, floor finishes, shades, grain structure, and staining options. This is because the hardwood floors are made from the wooden planks that come from trees. There is a large number of tree varieties that can be used for this purpose and that is how you get a huge number of varieties for hardwood flooring.

You can also choose if you want a prefinished hardwood floor or an unfinished hardwood floor that you can finish on your own. This huge variety of options is something that you only see in the hardwood flooring. So, if you want a flooring option that provides you a large variety of colors, finishing, shades, and granular structures, hardwood flooring is the best option that you have.

  • Highly durable: Planks for hardwood floors are cut directly from extremely durable tree trunks. This high durability also contributes to their ability to last longer than any other type of wooden floor. These floors are capable of enduring high pressures over their surface and also heavyweights. This means that you can install them in any part of your home including high traffic areas as well. This also means that your floor will get fewer dents on its surface over time. So, if you want a highly durable floor in your home that can last longer and also be less susceptible to dents over its surface, then hardwood flooring is a floor type that you should consider.
  • Hardness: Hardness is the measure of a floor’s ability to resist the change in its shape due to pressure or weight over its surface. Floors with low ratings are the ones that have low structural integrity and low density. This means these floors are more likely to de-shaped, break, or get dented when a certain amount of pressure is applied. Hardwood floors are the ones that have the highest structural integrity, that is why these floors have higher hardness ratings in comparison to a laminate floor. This means these are stronger and more able to sustain weight and pressure than laminate floors. So, if you want a floor that has higher hardness ratings, hardwood floors are a better choice than laminate floors.
  • Scratch resistance: As you know that hardwood floors have more hardness which means their surface is harder as well. A harder surface is less susceptible to scratches and it will have more resistance against scratches. This extra resistance helps make these floors be a better choice for long-term flooring. This makes sure that your floor requires fewer scratch-related repairs over time. So, if you want a floor in your home that can resist scratches over its surface and is easy to repair when its surface gets scratched then hardwood flooring is the best option.
  • Beautiful appearance: Another benefit of hardwood floors is that these floors have an original beautiful appearance. They do not have a fake appearance. They are mostly installed after just sanding and finishing. They do not require any kind of photographic layer to make them look beautiful. This natural beauty can enhance the overall look and feel of your home as well. So, if you want a beautiful appearance on your floor, you should choose the hardwood floor.
  • Maintaining and cleaning are easier: Hardwood floors have a smooth surface, which makes them easy-to-clean. The only cleaning work they require consists of mopping the floor or dusting or vacuum cleaning. This easy-to-clean nature of hardwood floors makes them one of the most suitable flooring choices for a home. Apart from cleaning, maintaining these floors to last longer is also easier in comparison to any other flooring type.
  • Increase property value: Hardwood floors add value to your property. This is a fact that a lot of buyers want a home with a permanent floor such as a hardwood floor. Which increases the chances of a quick sale and also increases the value of the property as well. So, if you want to sell your property after you upgrade the floor, you should choose hardwood flooring, as it would help you increase your profit from your property.
  • Can be refinished multiple times: It is also one of the biggest benefits of hardwood floors that when your floor is scratched or damaged, you will not have to change the entire plank or floor, you will only have to refinish your floor and it will look like the new one once again. Refinishing means you can re-stain, recoat your hardwood floor multiple times. Refinishing allows your floor to look like a new floor for the long term. That is why many old hardwood floors still look new and beautiful. So, if you want a floor that you can refinish over time, then you should choose hardwood flooring.

Cons of Hardwood Flooring

Here are some of the cons of hardwood flooring.

  • It costs more: Hardwood floors cost a lot of money. If you are buying a hardwood floor, you should know that they cost a lot of money not only for just buying. They also cost more in terms of installation, repairs, and maintenance as well. This is because these floors are hard to install and hard to work with and you cannot install or repair them on your own. You will have to hire experts to help you install, maintain, refinish the floor. This would significantly increase the cost of having a hardwood floor in your home. This is something you should keep in mind while choosing a floor for your home.
  • Hard to install: Hardwood floor planks are not for DIY; you will have to hire professionals to help you install the floor. This is because these floors are very hard to install. This is because these floor planks are heavy and hard and if you are not an expert, you might either hurt yourself while trying to do it on your own or damage the floor planks during installation. If you do so, it would further increase the cost of installation as well.
  • Changes color: Another drawback of hardwood floors is that they change their color over time. This happens because all hardwood floors are made out of wood and have no protection from sunlight. Hardwood floor planks absorb that sunlight and get darker and darker over time. You can slow this process by re-staining and recoating your floor but still, there is no remedy to prevent this. The color change is a slow process that takes a lot of time but as your floor ages, it becomes darker. This is something you must keep in mind while choosing a hardwood floor for your home.

CLOSING REMARKS – WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Now, you know all about both of these floors. You know about the basic difference in their structure, and how they are made. Hardwood floors are cut from tree trunks while the laminate floors are made by the fusion of multiple layers of different floor materials including wood fibers. This difference in their structure impacts their properties as well. Laminate floors are pet and child friendly, but they do not last very long as the wooden hardwood floors do. Also, the wooden hardwood floors get more scratches and they are also unable to hide these scratches.

The answer to this question is, both of these floors are great but the one that is right for you is the one that suits your needs. For example, if you are a pet owner or parent, then laminate flooring is better, but if you want a nice, warm, and beautiful floor then hardwood flooring is better for you. Also, if you want an affordable floor, then laminate flooring is right for you but if you want a floor that lasts longer, then a hardwood floor is the right choice. So, choose the floor that has all the properties that you are looking for or the one that is according to your requirement, and it will be the right choice for you.