Hardwood Flooring vs Laminate Flooring
Today’s topic of conversation is Laminate versus Hardwood.
Now by Laminate, we mean the one that there's no actual wood on the face of the plank, not an engineered floor. Engineered flooring is where you have a thin layer of wood on top of some kind of particle or plywood core. Laminate is just that it's a picture of what on top of HDFS or some kind of other core to it.
This has been a topic of conversation since laminate started becoming popular, well over a couple of decades now. Everyone has so many questions as to knowing what’s going to work the best for them in their situation, in their home. And of course, everything has their pros, everything's has their cons.
Now the first thing I would look at what when I'm talking about laminate versus hardwood flooring is durability. Okay now, durability is “the ability to withstand wear”- so how long will it keep looking good. In the short-term laminate is no questions more durable
than actual hardwood, whereas long term hardwood is more durable than laminate. The reason for that is - no matter what quality of laminate flooring that you have, it eventually it will wear, and it will scratch. Now laminate is way more scratch resistant than any hardwood, but again it's a floor so things will happen, and life happens! So, when laminate eventually does
scratch and wear down - it's time to throw it away put a new floor down. There have been some products out for recoating but at this time, let's just say they're not really stellar.
Hardwood on the other hand, very simply put, whatever you drop on it will dent. Whatever is pulled across the surface without a protector on it, the floor will scratch. But with a real hardwood floor, you can refinish! Buff the finish down or off, possibly change the colour, and add a few coats of a water-based finish – and bang, you have a brand-new floor! So
the hardwood floor properly maintained will last forever. Laminate will last realistically 10 - 20 years for a good quality – all based on how hard you are on the floor. Short term – laminate is more durable – long term, hardwood wins hands down.
Cost of flooring, on average is going to vary depending where you are, what market you're in, and whether you are doing your own install or not. But in general rule of thumb is that laminate is going to work out to be about half the cost of hardwood.
Yes, good quality laminate compared to good quality hardwood obviously will range is prices. But to compare a good quality hardwood vs a good quality laminate – the laminate will usually work out to ½ the cost of the hardwood.
Ease of installation. Now laminate is very simple to install yourself. The planks are always a floating system that clicks together. All you really need is a good rubber mallet, a few saws and you’re set! Hardwood on the other hand requires a special nailer, and a lot more time and effort. You have to plan out the rooms and use some pretty powerful tools to get the job done in an expedient manner.
Now to compare a few other differences! Laminate always requires an underlay – a foam or rubber that goes under the floor. This underlay is sometimes already attached to the product, but it’s use is the same no matter what it is. This allows the floor to float – meaning that it is not attached to the subfloor. The reason that we need the floor to not be attached, is how the product moves. All floors will move – laminate and hardwood are both effected by moisture. So as the air gets more humid in summer, the boards expand. And in winter when it’s dry as a bone, the floor will shrink. Laminate is interlocked with itself, so it moves all together. The expansion and contraction is all around the edges of the floor. This is also why we NEED to have an expansion space all around the floor. Please use them, it will avoid buckling, and other major issues. Hardwood on the other hand is all nailed down to the subfloor. So, when the boards expand and contract – they move individually. So, when it gets dry, you will see gaps between the boards – and on laminate, the gaps will increase on the outsides of the room. So be aware – hardwood gaps in the winter, and laminate shrinks in the winter. Both are normal, and why larger baseboards and or quarter rounds are a good thing!
The downside to the underlay and the lack of being attached to the subfloor for laminate – is the sound. Walking or dropping things on a laminate floor have a tendency to be much louder than hardwood – or anything else really.
So, there you go, a few of the differences between hardwood flooring and laminate flooring. Both are wonderful choices, but just be aware of what you’re getting into!