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?
First, remember that there is laminate wood and laminate plastic. The
wood product is closer to "solid" hardwood than it is to the plastic
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
We have both in my house and my wife prefers the laminate which was made by
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