Choosing between laminate vs hardwood flooring can be challenging. One of the most frequently asked questions relates to the differences between laminate and hardwood. Hardwood seems to be more durable, but more expensive. However, laminate has certain advantages as well. This article will help you identify the type of flooring which would fit the design and functionality of your home or apartment.
Before making the right choice we need to understand the differences between laminate and hardwood. Basically, laminate flooring is an imitation of hardwood. Laminate is made of composite wood pressed at high temperature. Laminate flooring has several layers imitating natural wood. Laminate consists of the following layers: the top layer, a decorative layer (paper), fibreboard core and the bottom layer (undersurface). The core layer is made of fibreboard materials or melamine resin to protect the floor from excessive humidity. The top layer of laminate has an imprinted image so it looks like wood.
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Hardwood flooring is made of pieces of 100% natural wood. These pieces of wood can be finished or prefinished. Engineered hardwood flooring which consists of several pieces of wood or plywood is also available. Middle and bottom layers are made of cross-laid solid wood or plywood. The top layer consists of solid wood lamella which can be prefinished or stained at a factory. Hardwood flooring significantly increases the resale value of homes.
Here we consider several factors that matter for consumers when trying to choose either laminate or hardwood flooring.
As a rule, the price is one of the determining factors for homeowners, but quality also matters. Obviously, laminate flooring is much cheaper than hardwood flooring. The price for laminate flooring starts from $3 per square foot. Thin laminate can be even cheaper than $3, but its appearance is poorer correspondingly. Installation cost of laminate flooring is lower than that one of hardwood flooring: sometimes you can cut 50% of installation cost if you chose laminate.
The price of hardwood flooring starts from $5 per square foot. It depends on the type of wood you need: if you decided to make the floor of exotic trees, the price can make up $8 per m2 and more. Strong woods cost more than soft types of wood. If you decided to select hardwood flooring for your home, be ready to spend more on the finish, treat and wax.
The durability of your flooring depends on many factors. The main factors of flooring durability are the intensity of traffic and its maintenance. It’s very important to follow the recommendations of manufacturers and provide appropriate treatment of flooring.
Typically, you can use laminate flooring up to 10 years, but high-quality laminate flooring can serve more than 20-25 years. High-quality laminate flooring is resistant to excessive humidity and scratches; it is easy to clean if compared to cheaper laminate options. High-quality laminate flooring can be used in homes with high traffic.
Undoubtedly, hardwood flooring is much more durable than laminate flooring. Its durability can be measured by many decades and, in some cases, it can serve all your life. The durability also depends on manufacturers, finish, and maintenance. The surface of hardwood flooring is softer in comparison to the pressurized composite surface of the laminate. Hence, it’s prone to dents, susceptible to scratches, wears, and high humidity.
Repairing hardwood flooring is easier than repairing laminate flooring. You can sand, refinish your laminate flooring or remove and replace damaged planks. However, new planks can be different from the old ones because of age, the impact of sunlight or the level of wear. Observance of maintenance rules outlined by manufacturer increases the durability of your laminate flooring.
It is much easier to refinish, stain or sand out some areas of hardwood flooring many times. There is no need to replace damaged planks when they are damaged; you just need to sand them out or stain the affected area. However, try to be careful when using hardwood flooring. Hardwood should not be too much exposure to sunlight because it can fade. Besides, refinishing floors can be expensive: the cost of repairing ranges from $600 to $3,500. The cost depends on the nature of damages and the quality of hardwood flooring.
Although laminate flooring imitates real wood and some types of laminate look like hardwood, it’s difficult to recreate the uniqueness of wood patterns in the laminate. The higher the quality of the laminate flooring, the more it looks like hardwood. Pattern repetition is more frequently met in cheaper options of laminate flooring. Hardwood flooring looks more elegant and it’s more durable. Also, hardwood flooring is characterized by the wide variety of textures.
Laminate flooring is inexpensive, easy to clean and maintain. It can be used in high traffic areas, but it’s difficult to repair. It is characterised by low or medium resale value. Premium quality laminate flooring looks like wood.
Hardwood flooring is more expensive, but more durable at the same time. Installation cost of hardwood flooring is higher than installation cost of laminate. Hardwood flooring can be easily damaged, but it can be easily repaired as well. It has high resale value and elegant appearance if compared to laminate flooring.
Knowing all these nuances you can easily choose flooring which appeals more to the style of your home, traffic, and other factors.
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