Hardwood vs. Laminate; the eternal struggle for supremacy in the modern home
As any homeowner will know, installing real hardwood floors over laminate can raise the overall value of your home considerably. However, hardwood flooring is far more expensive overall, and has a tendency to wear more quickly. This quick guide aims to explain the pros and cons of both hardwood flooring and laminate, and hopefully will make your decision between the two much easier.
Laminate flooring is a multi-layered synthetic flooring which is designed to imitate the look and feel of real hardwood. By combining resin, plastic and fiber board material, then covering it with the image of wood grain, laminate mimics hardwood’s appearance and feel.
In addition to being far less expensive to purchase and install (over 50% so according to estimates), laminate is a more reasonable option in homes where wearing is likely to happen. Laminate is highly durable, and is often guaranteed to last for over 25 years by many companies. As the overall hardness of laminate is generally much more than that of hardwood flooring, it is less susceptible to scratches, wear and tear as a result of foot traffic, warp and discoloration. For homes where the seasonal changes in temperature are likely to affect the floor’s color and shape, laminate is a much better option. Laminate flooring is for this reason far less expensive to maintain, and far less expensive to replace.
Laminate flooring is far more easy to keep clean than hardwood because of the plastic materials used. A damp cloth, broom or mop are all that is necessary to go through everyday household chores.
In terms of appearance, the synthetic quality of laminate makes it fairly obvious that it is not real wood. However, high quality laminate can replicate the look of wood very well, and sometimes the difference is not obvious.
Most often, the synthetic laminate is obviously not real wood, and certainly feels very different under your feet. Repetitive patterns in the flooring are also impossible to avoid, and make the overall appeal of the laminate much less than hardwood.
In addition, laminate is difficult to repair in comparison to hardwood, as single pieces are hard to fit into the existing pattern of flooring, and the entirety of it cannot be sanded or stained to cover up any imperfections. A single scratch on laminate flooring is quite obvious and bad looking, while scratches on hardwood are hardly noticed and usually merely add to the charm.
Laminate is also not expected to last long; with the average lifetime of a laminate floor being about 20 years, often less.
Hardwood flooring can come in two varieties: solid, or engineered. The difference between the two is simple: a solid hardwood floor is made completely of a single plank of wood, while engineered hardwood is made of layers of plywood underneath a single wood veneer layer.
A real hardwood floor, whether engineered or solid, requires constant maintenance and prevention of wearing. Despite this however, hardwood flooring is expected to last a lifetime upon purchase, as it is overall far easier to repair and maintain than laminate. A hardwood purchase for your home is a purchase which will raise the overall quality of your home and will last.
Hardwood flooring is for a reason the most desirable kind of flooring. The aesthetic appeal of individual, unique wood planks, and the warmth they can add to a living space is unparalleled. While hardwood is more easily scratched and dented than laminate, it is also far more easily repaired. Spot repairs are a very simple process which involves sanding, or replacement of the damaged area. Re-finishing can occur many times during the lifetime of your hardwood floor and can renew the worn areas very easily.
Hardwood flooring of any variety is far more expensive than laminate, requires more maintenance, specialty cleaning products which will not wear the wood or seal, and is more prone to warping, scratches, dents, color change and other wearing issues. For this reason, hardwood should be avoided in places where there are many seasonal changes or dampness. A hardwood floor is a commitment to the home that requires knowledge of who and what will be stepping on it, in order to preserve the natural beauty.
Installation of hardwood flooring too, is a more difficult and expensive process than the installation of laminate, as individual pieces don’t fit together easily and will require glue, nails and sealant.
While there are pros and cons to both hardwood and laminate, it is glaringly obvious that a hardwood floor is a better investment than laminate, as it will serve your home much longer overall, is a beautiful addition to any area, and will raise the value of your home immensely. Despite this, certain spots such as basements are not good places to outfit with hardwood, and for these laminate is the preferable option. Even so, overall it is the buyer’s choice which kind of flooring to install and where, and while hardwood flooring might be the better option for some, laminate might serve others as the superior solution.
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