Hardwood Flooring Versus Laminate Flooring
Today homeowners have many more choices when looking to buy a hardwood floor for their home. Thanks to advancement in flooring technologies homeowners have the option of buying a real hardwood floor, a laminate floor or even a resilient floor with a wood visual appearance. The difference being that both laminate flooring and vinyl flooring rely on a digital photograph of a real wood plank or tile to give the appearance of real hardwood plank flooring when installed.
Over the years the flooring technology has improved dramatically allowing flooring manufacturers today to be able to take a digitized photograph of an existing floor and apply it to a special backing material and then layering a protective wear surface over the top. The benefit of this process is laminate flooring can duplicate any wood plank with tremendous realism, including old historic wood flooring while keeping the costs down to the consumer.
So which floor should you choose? The answer lies in understanding the pros and cons of hardwood flooring versus laminate flooring as it pertains to where the floor will be installed, your expectations, budget and lifestyle. Also, not all hardwood flooring qualities and laminate flooring styles are the same in durability, price, recommended applications, or performance. For example: ¾” solid wood flooring is not recommended to be installed over concrete slabs or below grade basements.
Also, keep in mind the less costly laminate flooring will not have the true realism of real hardwood, texture of wood, nor the durability that the more expensive laminates will have. This also hold true with hardwood flooring. Better performing hardwood floors with more styling and better finishes will cost you more.
Sunlight, Fading and Staining
Because hardwood floors are a natural product they are more susceptible to fading from UV sunlight, whereas a laminate floor will not fade from sunlight. Area rugs and walk off mats may cause discoloration with a hardwood floor but not with laminate flooring. For hardwood flooring use mats and rug pads with non-staining backings.
Do-It-Yourself Flooring Projects
For the do-it-yourself flooring project laminate flooring is a better choice unless you are real handy with saws and staple guns or nailers. Laminate flooring offers a glueless, tongue-and-groove locking system that makes installation much easier for the novice. Although we are starting to see engineered wood flooring offered as well with a glueless, click-locking installation system. Laminate flooring as well as some engineered wood floors are actually floated over the top of the sub-floor. The planks are never adhered to the sub-flooring underneath. This allows these type floors to be used in almost any room of the home, except for the wet areas – bathrooms.
Many homeowners have pets in their homes which can be a problem for flooring, especially hardwood flooring. The first thing pet owners need to realize is that NO FLOORING IS WARRANTIED AGAINST PET DAMAGE! Although laminate flooring’s wear surface is highly stain, scratch and moisture resistant which lends itself better to people with dogs. The more expensive laminate floors have a better wear surface and a moisture-resistant core to help prevent spills and pet accidents from destroying the fiber core backing. High end engineered wood floors also boost a very durable stain and scratch resistant, UV cured poly-urethane wear layer that can last for years. Cats can retract their claws but dogs cannot, so keep the claws trimmed to help prevent scratching the flooring. This is especially true for bigger more playful dogs that like to run around the room with the kids.
Concrete slabs present their own set of possible issues when it comes to flooring. Concrete slabs must be fully cured, dry and clean before installing any flooring. Since you cannot nail or staple flooring directly into the slab your options are to choose a glue-down or floating engineered wood floor or a laminate floor. The slab also has to be level in order for the planks to fit correctly together during installation. This is true whether you choose laminate or engineered wood flooring.
Repairs and Re-finishing
If you are concerned about that some time you may need to repair the flooring and want to refinish the floor than your best option is hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring cannot be refinished and is not as easy to repair as wood flooring. Also, touching up scratches and marks in a hardwood floor is possible but not a laminate floor.
Quality hardwood flooring is a bigger investment but will last much longer and add real value to your home. At the same time, the more expensive laminate flooring styles are getting much closer today to replicating the visual appearance and texture of real wood plank flooring. This is making it more difficult for homeowners to decide which type of flooring is best for their situation. Either way, the look of wood flooring will undoubtedly add warmth, charm and enhance any room. Maybe that is why it has been used for centuries and many more to come.