Appreciate anyone with experience with and can offer their opinions on
whether to have laminate or hardwood flooring replace my grubby ol'carpet.
some questions that I can't seem to get a straight answer on are :
Spills - my understanding is if you wipe a wet spill up immediately,
laminates and avg. quality hardwoods are able to withstand with no marks -
but what if a spill is left undetected (say overnight, with a pet mistake),
what holds up better and is able to be corrected?
Material Costs - is there a ratio of what laminates costs to what the avg.
quality hardwood costs?
Lifespan - I understand that hardwood are long-lasting, has anyone had
laminate flooring for an extended period of time? Most people I know only
recently installed laminates ( 3 yrs) and haven't really experienced the
test of time.
Kitchen - does it make sense to install hardwoods in the kitchen? (the most
traffic-y area in the household and obviously exposed to spills, etc).
Appreciate anyone who has experience with either of these flooring types.
Laminate will not be affected by spills. Hardwood will not be affected if
1) you finish it with oil-base poly, 4 coats.
2) the spill is not, say, half a gallon of champagne which lies in a puddle
long enough to soak into the cracks. Cat or dog piss is ok if caught within
a few hours. If the stuff gets trapped under a waterproof surface and sits
there a week, you are going to have problems.
If you finish hardwood with water-borne poly, you will have problems quicker
with water spills. But water-borne is somewhat tougher as far as wear is
concerned, and it takes much less time to finish the floor.
Hardwood is refinishable, if you are willing to spend the money for the
service, and the effort to clear out the room and then clean up a lot of
dust. Laminate is not refinishable, and the surface will eventually wear
out. You can always put carpet over it (or over anything else as well).
Hardwood is labor-intensive to install and finish. Prefinished hardwood
skips the finishing step, but costs more to begin with. Laminate probably
costs somewhat more than prefinished hardwood but is quicker to install. If
you are hiring it done it may all be about the same.
I would not put hardwood in the kitchen. I believe in ceramic tile for all
high-use areas. It is truly forever, unless you drop a lot of bowling balls
and cast-iron cookware.
Check prices at Home Depot or Lowe's and find out firsthand.
Why not just go by the manufacturer's recommendations, regarding spills?
If you use laminate, they will probably say you must apply a glue
to each joint to make it spill-proof.
I recently installed Armstrong Swift-loc (available by this name at
Lowe's, and a different name at Home Depot) over a concrete slab. Even
though I used Armstrong's recommended foam backer, it is very noisy to
heel clicks, much more so than a hardwood floor.
Also, despite being an engineer and usually fond of precision, I find
the laminate too precise and too perfect. Looks somewhat artificial,
which is what it is. I prefer the natural randomness of hardwood.
I have all of them in my house. Here's my opinion:
Nothing beats real wood. It simply is the best. They have come a long way
with laminates but it still has that plastic look and repeat pattern. Being
plastic, laminates won't stain as readily but finishes on prefinished
hardwoods last up to 25 years (some claims). Be careful about moisture with
laminates as some are not recommended in moisture areas (washroom, kitchen,
Wood will generally cost you in the $5-7 (CDN) range per sq ft. Laminates
can be had for 4-6 (avoiding the cheapies).
Now why did I put in laminate? It is in my basement. Real wood is not
recommended for basements (nor do they warrantee it). You have to go to
engineered products here and they are not cheap. You do get the sandability
factor however if boo boos are really bad. I have a chip in my laminate and
they have a product to repair the area but I'm not holding my breath that it
will look like new.
Just to confuse you a bit more, don't overlook ceramics!
Good luck Roman
I have Mannington laminate in my house (everywhere except for the bathroom)
and Uniclic in my home office, a separate room at a different level. I
dislike the Uniclic, because it does not look like wood, does not sound like
wood, and shows dirt, but at least the seams stay together. I like the
Uniclic a LOT better than the other stuff, a glue-together that should have
never been installed.
I will never use laminate in a house again. I hate the shit. It looks like
cheap crap, sounds hollow, is separating at the seams (and YES, it was
professionally installed by someone who followed the manufacturer's
instructions to the letter), and when the final bill came, was more
expensive to install than hardwood. Plus, dents or chips can't be fixed.
About the only thing good about it is that it is relatively unaffected by
I think I'd rather put in vinyl sheet flooring. At least it makes no
pretenses about being real wood.
Hardwoods are only as good as the finish, which will either be factory
applied, varnish or water based polyurethane; any of these will take a
There are hardwood floors that have been in use for lifetimes, laminates
haven't been around that long. Personally, if I were planning on living in
the house forever, I would choose hardwood because I KNOW it will last a
lifetime. If I were only planning on living in the house for a few years I
would choose whatever is cheaper.
People do it. The original owner of this house did and the floor rotted
from a dish washer leak. She half-assed fixed it and covered it with vinyl
flooring. I had to have it fixed again since she never fixed the leaky dish
washer. Personally I would choose tile.
Be aware that there is solid hardwood, plastic-laminated composition
board (what is commonly called "laminated"), and hardwood plywood
(usually called "engineered hardwood" but sometimes called "laminated
The "engineered hardwood" is 3- or 5-plies of wood with the top ply
being the "show" surface (3/8 inch and 1/2 inch thicknesses,
respectively). It's most often pre-finished with a 15- or 20-year
warranty on the original finish, and the top ply is usually thick enough
to take sanding two or three times. It can be stapled, nailed, or glued
to the subfloor.
It has all the surface characteristics of solid hardwood. The major
advantage of engineered hardwood for me is that because it has the
better dimentional stability of a plywood, it can go below grade, as in
a dry basement.
"Men occasionally stumble on the truth, but most of them pick themselves
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