Laminate Flooring vs. Hardwood Floors

Hi there. I'm going to be putting new flooring in my living room and hall and am wondering if anyone has any opinions on what the better option would be. Hardwood or laminate? I know that laminate flooring is cheaper and probably easier than hardwoods but is there any other major differences that I should take into account before purchasing?
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Jimmy the Hand wrote:

First, remember that there is laminate wood and laminate plastic. The wood product is closer to "solid" hardwood than it is to the plastic laminate.
Most people prefer the look of hardwood, but it is a personal choice. The laminate products have a wider range of color and style. The laminate also tends to require less maintenance. The feel and acoustical characteristics of both are different and I personally like the solid wood best.
In both cases the quality of installation is important and the life depends on the quality of the product.
I have a laminate cork in part of my home and am considering hardwood, tile and laminate for another part.
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Joseph Meehan

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I have both. They did not make an engineered wood when I put down the WilsonArt laminate. While I like it, the wood is far better looking and no more work to keep clean. I'd use wood www.mannington.com
An exception is if you want a different look than wood as Wilson Art makes tiles with different patterns. I used one in my foyer.
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What is down there now? Carpet over chipboard, carpet over hardwood, or what? (The year the house was built will be a good clue, as would peeking inside any floor registers.) If this is a pre-1975 or so house, decent odds there is hardwood under there, which skews the choice in favor of geting that refinished. Personally, I hate laminate- looks like a huge kitchen counter to me. But others like it. Given a choice between hardwood and laminate, I'd take hardwood. If hardwood wasn't in the budget, I'd recarpet before I put down laminate.
aem sends...
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Jimmy the Hand wrote:

Something to think about is where does your house stand in your marketplace. Is your home on the low, middle or upper end in your town or area? If on the lower end, you might be more inclined to use the less expensive flooring, such as laminate, and if it is toward the upper end of the market, consider post finished wood (dusty) or prefinished hardwood. This is not to say that a modest home might not benefit form post finished hardwood floors, but the chances are good you won't recoup the cost when you sell. Likewise, there are million dollar homes with laminate flooring, but I doubt if it adds significantly to their value.
Mark
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i would say a major difference is that hardwood can be resanded and refinished many times. not so with laminate.
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As someone who works for a company which makes hardwood floors, I'll suggest that you need to consider the application and what you want to get out of the floor.
Laminates are <essentially> a picture of wood glued to MDF. Chip it or gouge it, and you can't sand and refinish. However, laminates are durable, and are the quickest, least expensive way to give yourself a hardwood look. With the snap together "floating" floor products, they are easy to install and require few tools. Laminates make a very stable floor, less subject to warping, swelling, etc than others (unless you get 'em wet, but that's another story). To anyone but the most casual observer, laminates don't quite look like wood. Laminates probably don't belong in a prominant place in a high end home.
I'm beginning to think that engineered hardwoods (a 1/8" or 3/16" veneer of hardwood over plywood or MDF) are an excellent choice. If you mess up the finish, you can sand and refinish them several times before you wear through the hardwood veneer. Being a hardwood veneer over a <typically> a plywood base, these are very stable. Once installed, you can't tell an engineered wood floor from solid hardwoods from a visual standpoint.
Solid hardwoods are the traditional product. The prefinished variety are relatively easy to install, look great, and can be sanded and refinished quite a few times. The advantage to prefinished floors is that their durability is far superior to the finish that can be applied on-site. One advantage of traditional finished in place floors is that they are very smooth, because the sanding process takes down any edges that stand proud.
I have a mix of pre-finished solid hardwood and site-finished solid hardwood in my house. All things being equal, I'd go entirely with pre-finished if I was starting with a bare floor.
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Kyle Boatright wrote: ...

From my limited experience there is a wide range of quality in the engineered hardwoods. The good ones are really good and the others are .. not all good.
I would have to go along with most everything you noted.
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Joseph Meehan

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Hardwood looks better, no doubt about it. But it dents. The factory finished looks glossier longer than stuff finished in your house but some people don't like the grooves between the planks.
Laminates that snap together have a picture of wood on top. They are more water resistant and dent resistant than hardwood. They also don't fade. And if you dent a piece bad, if you buy the snap together stuff, you could unsnap it and remove the damaged panel if it bothers you and if you bought extras.
We have both in my house and my wife prefers the laminate which was made by Mannington.

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Think of laminates as cheap imitation wood that can't be refinished.
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