So you’ve decided to get new hardwood flooring in your home; now the big decision you need to make is whether you are going to get solid wood or go with laminate. Each one offers some benefits and drawbacks so here’s a quick overview that will help you decide which is right for your home.
Solid wood flooring is exactly that, it’s a solid cut of hardwood from a tree (usually around ¾-inch thick. Laminate is a manufactured wood, so laminate flooring generally consists of a particleboard base with a thin layer above that is designed to mimic the appearance of hardwood, and plastic covering the top. It’s important to note that laminate wood flooring and vinyl are not exactly the same (they are often mistaken for being similar). While the quality of the materials is higher with solid wood than laminate, though, that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you.
Pros and Cons
Hardwood will look more natural, but it requires a lot more work, beginning with the initial installation that should be done by a professional. Laminate, on the other hand, is often something an experienced DIY-er can do. Hardwood may also require sanding and refinishing at the time of installation and at regular intervals to keep it looking like new, while laminate will never need to be refinished. Hardwood flooring is designed to last a lifetime, though, while laminate usually lasts about 10 years before succumbing to scratches, UV damage and other daily hazards.
If you have kids, laminate flooring is often a much better choice because it is very inexpensive to install initially, and that protective plastic layer over the top makes it exceptionally resistant to stains and spills over time.
As mentioned, laminate flooring is much less expensive than hardwood, unless you go with a very cheap hardwood flooring (which won’t give you the same durability and visual appeal that more expensive wood provides). Many laminate flooring options today are also designed to closely mirror the look of wood, so you still get the refined look of hardwood without the cost. Hardwood does offer some cheaper selections, but you’ll give up benefits like durability and quality when you go cheap with your hardwood flooring.
Additional Things to Know
Neither hardwood or laminate flooring is recommended in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms. Laminate flooring is also much easier to clean, requiring just soap and water or a similar cleaning solution, and isn’t susceptible to ‘wear patterns’ in high traffic areas like hardwood can be. If hardwood is stained, it can absorb liquids and be difficult to clean.
If you’re in the market for a high-quality material that will add value to your home, and you have the budget, you might go with hardwood. Those with kids and pets who need a more spill-resistant solution, or who want the look of wood without the costs should opt for laminate.