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Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring: How To Choose?

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When it comes to choosing new flooring for your home, deciding what material to go with is not always easy. If you’re looking for a wood look, several options are available. Should you go for a cheaper material like laminate or more expensive, but also more durable hardwood floors?

There are a lot of things to take into consideration and that goes beyond prices only. What are the real differences between hardwood vs. laminate flooring, and when is one the appropriate choice over the other? Here is a breakdown of all the pros and cons to help you choose the right flooring material.

1. Cost of hardwood vs laminate

Obviously, cost is a big one. Choosing a type of floor that fits your budget is one of the most important decisions. Real hardwood is generally more expensive than laminate flooring which is a synthetic material that can replicate the look of wood.

Hardwood generally run anywhere from $4/sq.ft for average pre-finished hardwood floors to $20 and up for rare, exotic woods. However, you can also find discount hardwood flooring from as low as $2.40/sq.ft.

Laminate wood planks are much cheaper, starting at $0.79 to upwards of $10/sq.ft. depending on the quality. If you are looking for higher quality, durable laminate floors, a good starting point is around $1.5-$2/sq.ft for laminate flooring.

Modern kitchen with laminate floors

2. Durability & Maintenance

People often have the misconception that laminate flooring is not durable. However, quality laminate made of compressed wood is very resistant. Unlike hardwood, laminate is scratch resistant and non-porous so they will not get damaged as easily from high traffic or liquid spills.

At the end of the day though, hardwood is much thicker and more securely fastened than laminate. If well cared for, it will last forever.

Laminate is also very easy to care for and keep clean with common household products. On the other hand, hardwood floors require more regular care and even re-finishing or polishing on a regular basis to maintain their quality.

3. Floor Repair

This one goes in the favor of hardwood vs laminate flooring. Although laminate is durable and low-maintenance, it’s not easy to repair. If your laminate floors are damaged, you will most likely need to replace the entire room unless you got individual pieces that are snapped together. Even in that case, it may be difficult to a new piece that perfectly matches your original flooring.

Hardwood flooring is easy to repair because you can simply replace the damaged planks. With sanding, polishing and refinishing, the replacement planks will fit right into the rest of the floor and you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Living room with hardwood floors

4. Installation

Generally speaking, hardwood flooring is a lot more complicated to install than laminate floors. Most types of laminate floors can be “clicked” together and don’t require glue which makes them very easy to put together.

Although some types of floating hardwood floors can be installed on your own, most traditional floors are above the average DIY skill level. Most hardwood floors will require professional installation.

5. Look & Feel

Technology has made giant progress in the past years which means laminate floors are of higher and higher quality. The finest laminate products are very realistic, offering that beautiful wood look that every homeowner is seeking.

However, there is something to be said for hardwood floors as far as elegance and style is concerned. Hardwood can give a timeless look to a traditional home or a modern, cutting edge feel to contemporary designs. They can easily bring a room to the next level of luxury.

Hardwood is also what most of us consider “the real deal”. They are truly gorgeous and can add a good deal of value to your home in the long run, which is something to consider.

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