Laminate vs. hardwood flooring


Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring, which is at times known as “floating wood tile" in the U.S., is a synthetic fiberboard product. It is usually made of four layers: a stabilizing layer at the bottom that resists moisture, a layer of treated high-density fiberboard, a photographic pattern layer that provides a surface design, and a clear melamine resin layer at the top that helps protect the laminate flooring from wear and tear. Newer laminate flooring sometimes replaces the photographic pattern layer with a thin slice of wood veneer.

  • Construction: Wood materials are pressed together to make a plank. Top layer is a photographic layer made to mimic various surfaces like wood and stone. Can be installed in basements.
  • Cost: Less expensive
  • Repair: Minor scratches can be repaired, but new flooring needs to be installed for major repairs. Since laminate is made of composite wood, it cannot be refinished.
  • Lifespan: Average of 15-25 years

Hardwood flooring

Hardwood flooring comes in a variety of differently sized cuts (e.g., wide planks, parquet, etc.) and is made from real solid woods, giving it natural grains and tones, from light browns, to neutral grays and rich reddish bronzes. It can be stained or left natural, finished or left unfinished. Hardwood flooring has become more popular in recent years, as it is a healthier option than carpet for allergy sufferers. Oak and maple are the most common hardwoods used in flooring. The appeal of hardwood flooring’s appearance is far reaching, so much so that laminate flooring is often made to imitate hardwood’s graining and colors.

  • Construction: Made of solid wood. The look of the wood comes from the natural state of the wood itself. Grain and color are unique. Installation of hardwood flooring below-grade is not recommended.
  • Cost: More expensive
  • Repair: Minor and major damage can be repaired. Hardwood floors can be refinished multiple times throughout its life.
  • Lifespan: 100+ years

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