Hardwood or Laminate: Best Value and Best Look

Choosing the flooring for your home is not always easy. Deciding between carpet or wooden flooring is the first step, but then what? There are further decisions to make following your decision for wooden flooring. We are here to help you get the best look and the most for your money. 

So, you have decided to go with wood flooring and need to know the next steps? Now that you have decided on the aesthetic for your home, you will then need to make decisions about the type of wood to use. 

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Genuine wood flooring is expensive. If you do not want to spend the money on a hardwood floor but still want to achieve that effect, you can use alternatives such as laminate flooring. The question most people ask is whether or not wood flooring is worth the price or if laminate is an acceptable substitute. 

Expense

There is a significant difference between the cost of laminate flooring and the cost of hardwood flooring. The average cost of real hardwood flooring is, on average, between $7 and $30 per square foot for the materials, with an additional $2 to $4 installation cost per square foot. However, laminate flooring costs on average between $1 and $3 with the same installation cost. 

Alternatively, laminate flooring can be installed as a home improvement project for free if you or a friend know how to do it. Even at the top end of installation and material cost, laminate flooring would cost the same amount per square foot as the cheapest hardwood flooring installed. 

When changing the flooring in your home, you need to consider which rooms you are choosing to change as it may be cheaper to change all of the rooms at the same time. When laying new flooring, you will need to have some extra in case of damage when installing. Measuring multiple rooms could mean getting fewer packs of flooring in the long run with less leftover. 

The Test of Time

The durability of hardwood flooring is limited. If you purchase a true hardwood floor made of wooden boards and attached directly to your subfloor, you will have less time before needing to repair it. This is because the wood is susceptible to dampness, and if water gets underneath it, the wood can warp. 

There is a second type of hardwood, known as engineered hardwood, which is less likely to be damaged by spillages. This is because engineered hardwood is only hardwood on the top layer. The layers underneath are usually made of plywood which protects the flooring from liquids seeping between the boards. 

Engineered hardwood floors, therefore, do not need to be attached to your subfloor, so they can be taken up more easily if required. 

Laminate flooring has been designed to stand the test of time. It has been designed to ensure it is watertight when installed correctly. This means that spillages will not cause the damage they do on hardwood floors. 

This is why laminate flooring is often chosen for areas where spillages may occur regularly or in houses with young children. 

The downside with laminate flooring is that dirt and dust can damage the finish, which means it needs more regular cleaning. Whereas a hardwood floor can be refinished if there is damage, laminate flooring cannot be refinished. This means that when laminate flooring becomes too damaged, it will need to be replaced rather than repaired. 

Repair Costs

Similar to the cost of purchasing hardwood flooring, the cost of repairing it is significantly more than the cost of repairing laminate flooring. The cost of repairing significant damage to hardwood floors can be up to $100 more than significant damage to laminate flooring. 

The difference between the two, though, is that hardwood flooring can be repeatedly repaired and refinished, often without lifting and replacing the wood. However, as we advised above, the chances of repairing laminate are lower once significant damage has occurred. 

Making small repairs to a hardwood floor, such as refinishing, can be relatively inexpensive, meaning you have more longevity with this type of floor. 

Economic Impact

Some people are concerned about the environmental factors of installing hardwood floors in their homes. However, this is not usually something you would need to worry about. Most manufacturers of hardwood flooring source the wood sustainably, utilizing registered new growth trees. This ensures that endangered species of trees are not used. You can check with your supplier if this is the case with the flooring you are purchasing. 

Laminate flooring has an even less economic impact as it is synthetic and is made with almost three-quarters of recycled wood waste. This is usually wood shavings and sawdust from factories, but some manufacturers will certify that the laminate is sustainable. 

With laminate flooring, you can also check whether or not the installation will need glue that can be damaging to air quality. This can be especially important for those with breathing issues or young children in their homes. 

Summary

When deciding between laminate or hardwood flooring, it is a personal decision. If money is no object, then you really will be deciding between the look and feel of each. However, if you are looking to avoid a high upfront cost or complete a DIY project yourself, you cannot go wrong with laminate flooring for price, ease, and look. A lot of laminate floorings have such a nice finish that you will achieve the look you are aiming for with a reduced cost and longer-lasting floor than hardwood. 

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