The comparison between hardwood flooring and laminate comes up when choosing a wood-like flooring option. Both are extremely popular in the market and used widely for flooring. But while choosing one between the two, a lot of factors and considerations pop up in the mind. And the first concern is which one is better, hardwood or laminate?
To know which one is the better option, learning about the characteristics and features of hardwood flooring and laminate is necessary. If you know them well and differentiate between the two, choosing becomes easier. So if you are going through your decision-making process, I am here to help you out.
In this article, I will be defining the differences between hardwood flooring vs laminate. Knowing the differences would help you understand which one better suits your condition. Because undoubtedly, both are excellent flooring choices, aren’t they?
So let’s dive deeper into the topic and learn about hardwood flooring and laminate.
Hardwood Flooring Vs Laminate: 7 Differences To Note Down
Before you learn about the differences, note that hardwood is an organic flooring product while laminate is a synthetic flooring option. So this is the very difference to note down.
Hardwood is extracted from woods that are hard in nature. Trees like oak, maple, cherry, teak, walnut, hickory, ash and some other species are commonly cut down to make hardwood planks. The extracted woods are polished and processed to make the hardwood boards and planks. So this is a solid hardwood flooring that is made organically and has a purely natural look and texture.
On the other hand, laminate is a synthetic product. It has 4 layers in it to make laminate a compact and durable flooring option. The base is made of melamine resin. The other layers are composed of phenolic resin and sheets that determine the design of the laminate. Thus it is made artificially and the look can be altered. In fact, it can mimic the look of different woods, stones, etc.
So you can see that hardwood is a natural flooring choice while laminate is an artificial product. The look of hardwood is completely natural but laminate may have different looks which are not real.
Now that you know that their basic differences, let’s move to the other disparities between hardwood flooring and laminate:
The primary concern of most buyers is to find a durable flooring option. While comparing hardwood and laminate, it is difficult to say which one is durable. Actually, both are durable and long-lasting. But from all aspects, laminate flooring is more durable than hardwood. However, the life of hardwood flooring is generally more than laminate.
For busy areas, laminate is a preferable option. It requires minimal care and is resistant to scratches, stains, dents, etc. But if you see any damage on the laminate flooring, you would need to replace the plank. On the other hand, hardwood flooring gives you the option of refinishing if slightly damaged.
If maintained properly, hardwood flooring can last more than 25 years (varies from species to species). But scratching and staining are more on the hardwood flooring. But generally, they can withstand impact and high traffic. Note that the thicker and harder hardwoods are more durable and can last for ages. To choose the right hardwood, you can read this article.
Basically, both are durable. But laminate is more resistant to scratches as well as moisture than hardwood. However, if you consider longevity, hardwood flooring would be your choice.
Hardwood flooring has been very popular mostly because of its exotic look. With the natural grains, streaks, and scrapes, hardwood flooring has a unique appearance that is irreplaceable. Also, different wood species show different flooring colors and textures making hardwood a versatile flooring choice.
However, laminate is also aesthetically pleasing. In fact, it not only offers a wood-like appearance but also mimics the look of stone, tile, etc. So you would get a variety of design and color options in laminate flooring. But the only issue is that laminate gives a fake and too polished look. Anybody can recognize that it is synthetically made and the pattern is created in the factory.
Most buyers, therefore, prefer the look of hardwood flooring better than laminate. The authentic and raw hardwood flooring appearance is truly a magnificent one compared to laminate. However, it would depend on your choice. If you like laminate better, go for it.
If you talk about the cost, laminate is cheaper than hardwood flooring. Laminate is made synthetically in the factory and the raw materials are really cheap. Also, real wood is not used in laminate flooring. Only a wood-like image is pressed and laminated. And the entire process is not costly.
On the other hand, hardwood flooring is made from real wood. The processing is also way more complicated and delicate than processing laminate planks. Also, note that recycling hardwood would take a long time. So once disposed of, it takes a long time to recycle and make it ready for recycling. This increases the cost too.
Remember that the cost of hardwood flooring depends on the species, its hardness, and thickness. The cost varies a lot due to these factors. But anyway, it is more expensive than laminate. Below is a chart mentioning the material and installation cost for laminate and hardwood flooring:
|Parameters||Hardwood Flooring||Laminate Flooring|
|Material cost||$3- $8||$1- $2|
|Installation cost||$3- $6||$2- $5|
|Total cost||$6- $12||$3- $7|
4. Moisture Resistance:
Moisture or water resistance becomes a huge factor while installing hardwood flooring in damp spaces. If the natural condition of the space is damp, laminate is surely a better option than hardwood. In fact, in places like washrooms and kitchens, laminate should be prioritized.
Hardwood flooring needs to be sealed and maintained carefully to protect it from moisture, unlike laminate. Hardwood flooring expands and shrinks, warps, and distorts its shape when exposed to water or moisture. This is a huge threat to damp spaces. On the other hand, laminate flooring is quite resistant to water. It doesn’t distort or discolor in such conditions.
However, thicker hardwood floorings are more resistant to water. But both laminate and hardwood require care to enhance their moisture resistance. If you don’t care for the laminate flooring, moisture will settle deep down the layers damaging the shape and color. But comparatively, laminate handles water better than hardwood does.
Maintaining flooring includes cleaning, sealing, polishing, and keeping the condition of the floor intact and shiny. Now in terms of maintenance, both hardwood and laminates have their pitfalls and benefits.
Laminate flooring can be maintained easily by cleaning (sweeping and mopping). But spills should be cleaned properly and immediately to remove the stains. Though scratch-resistant, major dents and scrapes can’t be removed or polished on laminates. You would need to replace the entire plank if it is damaged, unlike hardwood flooring.
Hardwood flooring can be furnished and polished if damaged. Unfinished hardwood flooring can be polished several times if major scratches become visible. Cleaning hardwood flooring is also pretty simple but sealing is mandatory to enhance its moisture resistance.
So you see, maintaining and keeping the condition of hardwood flooring is quite easier than caring for the laminate. But if you are looking for a moisture-resistant option for easy maintenance, laminate is your cup of tea. Also, if you have pets at home, laminate flooring would be easier for you to maintain.
If you want to install the flooring by yourself, laminate is the right choice for you. With its click and lock system, you can install the laminate flooring. The same option comes with hardwood flooring as well. But if you decide to nail or glue down the flooring, you would face difficulty. It requires expertise to install these methods.
If the hardwoods are prefinished, installation is a bit simpler in that case. But unfinished planks are difficult to install. So in terms of installation, laminate is the winner as it is easy to install and doesn’t really require any professional to do the task.
Note that both hardwood and laminate flooring release toxic substances during installation. But laminate releases more toxic VOC than the dust released by hardwood during installation. So hardwood is less toxic than laminate.
7. Radiant Heating:
Radiant heating is a feature that people may need in houses in cold climates. But no flooring is capable of withstanding the radiant heat. Fortunately, both laminate and hardwood flooring can withstand radiant heat.
If the hardwood planks are not very thick, they will be able to conduct heat properly. But thick hardwood planks won’t conduct heat efficiently. Similarly, not all laminate flooring is capable of conducting radiant heating.
If you need radiant heating conductivity in your house, make sure to choose one that is compatible with the condition. Because not all options are suitable for this. But most hardwood floorings are.
Hardwood Flooring And Laminate: Best For What?
It can be said that both hardwood and laminate flooring are widely acceptable. But the point is, they are best for different conditions and purposes. So to clarify the matter more, here is a chart mentioning what laminate and hardwood flooring are best:
|Hardwood Flooring||Laminate Flooring|
|Long-lasting service||DIY installation|
|Living room decoration||Homes with pets|
|Natural and warm flooring||Damp areas like the bathroom, basement, etc.|
|Old and traditional spaces||A modern and sleek interior|
|High resale value||People want looks other than wood|
|Radiant heat compatibility||Easy maintenance|
|Permanent flooring by nailing or gluing||Floating floor, easily removable|
How Much More Expensive Is Hardwood Than Laminate?
Hardwood flooring is an expensive option compared to laminate flooring. As the production and raw material cost for laminate are less than hardwood, it is cheaper than hardwood flooring.
The cost of hardwood flooring is almost double the cost of laminate flooring. Hardwood flooring may cost between $6- $12 per square foot while investing $3- $7 per square foot of laminate would suffice. So you see, the disparity is quite a lot.
Therefore, you may need to invest almost double on hardwood flooring than on laminate.
Does Hardwood Flooring Have More Resale Value Than Laminate?
If you intend to resell your house in the future, you have to think of getting a good deal. And the flooring generally impacts the resale value a lot.
Installing hardwood flooring would definitely increase the resale value of the house. It is costlier than laminate, more beautiful in aesthetic appearance, and lasts longer than laminate.
In contrast, laminate flooring is cheaper than hardwood and its appearance is artificial. So if you are thinking of the resale value of your house, you should definitely go for hardwood flooring rather than laminate.
Is Laminate As Durable As Hardwood?
If you are searching for an alternative to hardwood, laminate can be a smart choice. It can mimic the look of hardwood with better qualities that you won’t find in hardwood.
Laminate flooring is scratch and stain-resistant. It doesn’t dent or break easily. Also, it can be maintained easily. The biggest benefit is that it is moisture-resistant and can be installed in damp places. This is the quality that makes it a better option than hardwood in terms of durability.
Therefore, though we all prefer the look of hardwood flooring, laminate is also a good option. It has excellent durability and is a reliable flooring option. But still, hardwood has more durability and longevity as it has some natural properties, unlike laminate.
What Lasts Longer, Laminate Or Hardwood?
In terms of durability and longevity, hardwood flooring has to be the winner. It can survive in normal conditions for more than 25 years. With sincere care and maintenance, it can last for decades.
On the other hand, laminate flooring is long-lasting as well. But they start discoloring and damaging after 20- 25 years. Though they don’t damage easily in contact with water or impact, their life is shorter than hardwood. They are surely scratch-resistant and water-resistant, don’t warp or break easily. But as synthetic, their properties start expiring after a certain time. But this doesn’t happen with hardwood.
Therefore, hardwood flooring is more long-lasting than laminate. The only exception is for wet places where laminate functions better.
Is A Laminate Floor As Good As Wood?
Honestly speaking, laminate is not as good as hardwood. In fact, from most of the dimensions, hardwood is a better option.
Hardwood is more durable, aesthetically pleasing and versatile, and valuable compared to laminate flooring. However, if you consider the price, laminate is way better than hardwood. But in terms of features, hardwood flooring is definitely better.
So I can’t really say that laminate flooring is as good as hardwood flooring.
To end the discussion, I would say that both laminate and hardwood flooring are smart choices. You just need to examine the qualities and see their compatibility with your home or office condition. Whichever seems better should be taken.
Read the differences once again and decide which one would suit your purpose and deliver your flooring requirements.