Hardwood flooring is a highly sought-after amenity among homeowners. Due to its beautiful, timeless appearance and the style and warmth it adds to a room, it is not surprising that it has remained a top choice among consumers for multiple decades.

However, not all individuals can afford genuine hardwood floors, as the latter are usually expensive, particularly if the property owner is planning to remodel more than one room. Nevertheless, most consumers make the assumption that authentic, solid hardwood is preferable to laminate wood flooring. This was true several decades ago, but over the years laminate wood flooring has been perfected and is no longer the inferior-looking material it was in decades past.

At one time, laminate wood flooring was only selected if genuine hardwood floors were financially out of reach for the homeowner. This is because in the 1980s and 1990s, laminate flooring did not effectively resemble genuine hardwood: it often developed surface waves that were detectable when curtains were opened and natural light was allowed into the room. Additionally, laminate planks were somewhat difficult to install prior to 1999, which sometimes led to the development of “peaks and valleys” in different parts of the room. These abnormalities were highly noticeable in any type of light.

Improved Manufacturing Techniques

Due to advancements in manufacturing techniques, the appearance and performance of today’s laminate floors offer true competition for their genuine wood counterparts. In some ways, laminate wood flooring even outperforms hardwood. It is these positive changes that have made it more difficult for homeowners to decide between the two types of floors. Understanding laminate floors and the differences between such material and genuine hardwood can help make the selection process a bit less daunting.

Differences Between Laminate and Hardwood Flooring

Laminate floors are manufactured through the use of synthetic wood. This type of surface creates the appearance of genuine hardwood, and with today’s modern manufacturing procedures it is almost impossible to distinguish between the two materials.

However, it is important to understand the pros and cons associated with both laminate and hardwood flooring. Depending on the homeowner’s budget and preferences regarding appearance, he or she may discover that one is better than the other or it may become clear that the choice is merely a matter of personal taste.

Factors to consider when making a decision include the following:

  • Price of the flooring materials
  • Installation price
  • Longevity
  • Durability
  • Appearance
  • Amount of maintenance required

Cost

Cost is one of the most important considerations when completing any remodeling project. The price of virtually any type of flooring is dependent upon the material from which it is made. Genuine hardwood floors are manufactured from harvested trees, and the price depends on the kind of wood used to create the floor. Below are some of the most popular types of wood for residential floors:

  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Maple
  • Mahogany
  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Hickory
  • Ash
  • Rosewood

Slow-growing woods such as oak and cherry are typically more expensive than wood from fast-growing trees such as pine and maple. However, regardless of the type of wood selected, the overall price associated with purchasing and installing hardwood flooring is significantly higher than the cost of laminate wood floors.

Laminate is manufactured from composite wood that is pressed at a high temperature and then covered with a seal that features the image of authentic hardwood. Such floors are approximately 50 percent cheaper to purchase and install than genuine hardwood floors. Homeowners can acquire laminate floors that have a similar if not an identical appearance to any of the woods listed above.

Longevity and Durability

When choosing between laminate and hardwood flooring, it is also important to consider the durability and longevity associated with each option. For example, if a genuine hardwood floor is installed in a high traffic area, wear and tear will begin to show in a short length of time. The floor can also sustain damage from moisture and is susceptible to scratching. However, genuine wood offers excellent longevity and can last for generations if cared for appropriately.

Because laminate floors are made from pressed wood, they resist scratches, wear and tear, and damage from moisture. Nevertheless, a laminate floor may not be quite as visually appealing as solid hardwood floors. As with most products, the cheaper the flooring, the easier it will be to distinguish it from genuine hardwood.

Maintenance

Another essential consideration when choosing flooring is maintenance. Both hardwood and laminate floors have advantages and disadvantages concerning everything from long-term wear and tear to minor accidents. For instance, hardwood floors can easily be repaired by sanding and refinishing the damaged areas.

Laminate wood flooring is a bit more difficult to repair, particularly if major damage occurs. If the homeowner purchased a laminate floor that snaps together from multiple individual pieces, it may be possible to replace one or two boards. However, depending on the age of the floor and the amount of direct sunlight to which the damaged area was exposed, an exact match may not be possible.

Finally, genuine hardwood is more susceptible to fading when compared with laminate flooring which typically has ultraviolet protection built into its surface. Ultimately, whether one chooses genuine hardwood or laminate flooring, remodeling projects of this type add beauty and value to any dwelling. Those who are planning such a project should contact a helpful professional at LevelUp Flooring to discuss the best option for his or her needs.