The choice between hardwood floors and laminate flooring is a common dilemma facing many home-owners. While the two are superficially similar in appearance they do have distinctly different properties.
The biggest difference is, of course, that of cost. This is why many people who love the look of timber flooring but can’t afford it, choose Laminate Flooring instead. In addition, laminate is far easier to clean and maintain in a good condition than hardwood.
However, there are also many reasons why many people would prefer hardwood flooring, even at the additional expense.
- Looks – no modern manufactured alternative, no matter how advanced, can really compare with the natural warmth and beauty of <#68#>real wood<#>. This can be especially important in a home with period features or a rustic décor scheme.
- Quality – solid timber flooring gives off a sense of class and quality that again is hard to beat with any man-made alternative. Hardwood floors give a room an ‘expensive’ feel and a top-quality finish, as well as an impression of lasting quality and permanence, which is one reason why it is so popular in prestigious establishments and designer homes.
- Investment – despite the initial expense, hardwood floors may be a worthwhile long-term investment as they will significantly add to the value of your home and increase its re-sale value. It is a popular attribute of homes that estate agents like to focus on in their selling strategy.
- In addition, hardwood is actually more economical than other flooring options when considered over the long term. It usually lasts for the lifetime of the structure and although it may require some re-sanding and refinishing of coats throughout that time, this is minimal compared to flooring like carpets and vinyl which usually need to be replaced 3 or 4 times in the same time span.
- One of the key areas of advantage over laminate is the acoustics of hardwood flooring. If properly installed, hardwood flooring has brilliant acoustic properties, whereas laminate flooring usually suffers from a “hollow” sound under foot traffic – even if heavy sound insulation is installed.
- Health – as one of the few completely natural flooring materials, hardwood floors provide a healthier interior living environment, as the levels of chemical emissions from natural wood products is much lower. It is also a good option for occupants with allergies as it is less likely to retain dust particles, parasites and allergens.
- Easy to clean – relatively simple to clean with just a weekly vacuum followed by a damp mop. However, some finishes may require maintenance and may not withstand heavy wear and tear, in particular scratching and denting (e.g. high-heels).
- Adaptability to décor – as evidenced by centuries of use in a variety of buildings, hardwood flooring never goes out of style and carries a timeless quality. It is also adaptable to a range of interior design schemes, not only rustic and traditional but also contemporary and modern.
- Economical – this is probably the key reason for choosing laminate, as it usually offers the best value over the long-term, compared to other flooring materials. Compared to hardwood, which will require 3-5 refinishing treatments over a 25-year period, laminate flooring is a more cost-effective option.
- Durable – another key reason for choosing laminate, particularly for families with children and pets. Laminate is flooring material that is specifically designed for high traffic areas and thus outperforms many other flooring options in this regard. Most have a very hard and durable top-layer finish, which is also scratch and dent-resistant – in particular, compared to hardwood floors. In fact, most good manufacturers will offer a 25-year warranty for any wear and damage of the laminate flooring.
- Moisture-resistant – unlike hardwood, laminate can cope with environments which have high humidity and moisture levels (such as bathrooms and kitchens). In this respect, it has a huge advantage over hardwood which is susceptible to cupping, warping and gaping due to expansion and contraction.
- Stain-resistant – another advantage of laminates is that they are more Stain-resistant than hardwood floors and will also not fade in strong sunlight.
- Installation – loved by DIY Enthusiasts, laminate is incredibly easy to install, particularly the latest glueless, click & lock systems which easily snap into place. It can also be installed over many existing floor types, even concrete as it is a floating floor system which is designed to adjust to temperature and humidity fluctuations.
- Easy to care for – just like hardwood, laminate only requires a regular vacuum followed by a damp mop to keep it clean. In addition, it has the advantage that if sections are irreversibly damaged, they can be removed and replaced easily.
- Range of styles – there is probably no greater range of colours, styles and designs which gives great flexibility and scope when considering interior décor for the environment.
- Laminate has similar health benefits to hardwood flooring.
With almost equal benefits and advantages, the choice may really come down to one of personal finances and preference, as well as the needs of the house.