Laminate vs. Hardwood Flooring – Which is Better?

If you’re a homeowner shopping for new flooring for your home, you might be considering installing either hardwood or laminate. Both options have pros and cons, so here’s an overview of the differences between the two. This information can help you decide which product is better for your family’s lifestyle and budget.

Differences between laminate and hardwood flooring

Hardwood flooring is made either from planks of solid wood, or engineered planks consisting of layers of real wood and plywood. You can buy either unfinished or prefinished versions of both types. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is a synthetic product made with layers of melamine resin and fiber board, with a top layer that’s designed to look like real wood.

Aesthetically, no two engineered or solid hardwood flooring planks are identical, because they’re made of real wood with unique wood grain patterns. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is imprinted with a pattern designed to look like real wood. Thanks to today’s technology, there are extremely realistic-looking wood laminate products on the market.

Laminate flooring is created with high heat and pressure, making them extremely durable. It’s often harder than natural wood, and resists moisture, fading and staining, which is why many laminate products come with warranties of up to 25 years.

The durability of hardwood floors depends largely on the quality of the manufacturer and finish, and how well they’re maintained. Natural wood is more susceptible to dents than harder composite surfaces, but damaged planks can be repaired or replaced, which isn’t possible with laminate flooring. Real wood floors can also be sanded and refinished, unlike laminate floors.

Real wood flooring is susceptible to temperature and humidity changes, and solid wood will expand and contract more than engineered wood. Wood flooring is not recommended for use in high-moisture areas, like bathrooms. The planks will also need to be acclimated in the room where they’ll be installed for about 48 hours prior to installation. Laminate, however, remains stable with changes in humidity, so it can be used in any room of the home.

Wood flooring can either be glued or nailed down. Glue-down can be completed by a skilled do-it-yourselfer, but it’s a messy job. Nail-down installation is best left to a professional to avoid damaging the planks. Laminate flooring can be glued down or with floating planks that snap together. Either method can be completed by a skilled DIY-er.

Laminate flooring is low-maintenance, and just needs regular sweeping and either dry or damp mopping. Hardwood floors, whether engineered or solid, require cleaning with specialized products to maintain their finish. Certain types of cleaners and detergents can dull or damage the finish of wood floors, and even void the manufacturer warranty.

With proper care and maintenance, laminate flooring can last up to 50 years. However, once the finish has become scratched, worn or otherwise damaged, the floors will have to be replaced. Solid and engineered wood flooring can be expected to last for the lifetime of your home, and they can be sanded and refinished if they become scratched or the finish gets worn.

Whether your choose hardwood or laminate flooring for your home, it’s important to remember that quality products make a big difference in performance and appearance. In the Wichita, Kansas, area, visit Jabara’s for affordable, high-quality flooring options.