Adding the rich, warm look of wood to your home is not as
clear cut as it seems, especially when there is laminate flooring to consider.
Laminate floors have some definite benefits that make it a good choice for some
homes. (Plus, there is always luxury vinyl plank flooring to consider.)
Wood floors also comes with some pros and cons, making the
choice harder for homeowners. To make it easier, this list breaks down the pros
and cons that can make one floor the right floor for your home.
Before delving into the pros and cons of wood and laminate
floors, it’s important to know the difference in construction. Wood floors are
exactly what they say; hardwoods are wood planks that can be sanded down and
refinished several times over the life of the floors. The exception is
engineered wood floors, which are wood planks on top of a layer of plywood.
Laminate floors are composed of layers. The visible layer
looks like wood and is mounted on top of a layer of wood. The innermost layer
of layer makes this floor incredibly stable. Both layers are topped by a wear
layer that protect the flooring and makes laminate floors incredibly durable.
Wood looks the best because well it IS wood.
High-quality laminate floors resemble the look of wood so incredibly
well that it can be hard to tell the difference. Low-quality laminate floors
do not always look like wood as well, but they are a low-budget wood flooring
Homeowners can choose between oak, Brazilian cherry, cork, and other
wood floor option. Wood floors are available in wide- and narrow-plank, and a
variety of light and dark stains.
Laminate floors are available in all colors and widths.
Hardwood floors have held up in older homes for years. Some softer wood floors are prone to scratching. (Talk to a professional if the room is high-traffic and if there are pets in the room.) If there is too much damage, floors can be sanded down and refinished.
Laminate floors are incredibly durable and can hold up in
Sitting water can permanently damage hardwoods, which makes it
unsuitable for high-moisture rooms (i.e. bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.)
There are waterproof hardwoods available for homeowners worried about water
Laminate flooring can be damaged by sitting water, especially if it
gets between the boards. To prevent damage, water should be wiped up
Most hardwood floors should not be installed in basements. Because of
the unique construction, engineered wood floors are suitable for basements
that aren’t prone to flooding.
Most laminate floors are not right for basements because of the
porous moisture that seeps through the concrete slab.
Most wood floors are nailed down, which is a more difficult
installation. Engineered wood floors are installed as a floating floor
(without nails but with these engineered wood flooring installation tips) and
are an easier do-it-yourself project.
Laminate floors are installed as a floating floor, and can be snapped
together (similar to a puzzle). Floors should be brought in to acclimate
before installation, and the surface should be prepped for a flat, level surface.
Wood floors typically cost more than laminate floors.
The cost of laminate floors fit any budget, with the cheapest styles
sometimes coming in at just a few hundred dollars for small rooms.
High-quality floors typically cost more than low-quality laminate floors;
some high-quality floors can cost as much as wood.
Cleaning and Care
Wood floors are easy to keep clean with regular sweeping and dry mopping.
Laminate floors only require a regular sweep and/or vacuum (with a vacuum selected with these tips) to remove debris that could scratch floors.
Hardwoods should be cleaned with a manufacturer-approved cleaner (and these tips for cleaning wood floors). Homeowners should never use only water, leave puddles, or steam clean wood floors. These deep-cleaning errors can permanently damage wood floors.
Laminate floors need an occasional deep-cleaning with a manufacturer-approved cleaner. Just as with wood floors, water should not be left on laminate floors.
Though wood floors are durable, some floors can be damaged by pet claws. (Ask a flooring pro about wood floors that are pet-friendly.)
Laminate floors are fairly hard, making them incredibly durable even in high foot- and paw-traffic areas.
Hardwood floors may increase home value.
Laminate floors do not add value to a home.
Hardwoods can be sanded down and refinished multiple times, meaning that wood floors can last for many years.
Laminate floors cannot be refinished and may only last 10-15 years. The cost of two laminate floor installations (over many years) may be equivalent to a wood floor install.