Laminate Flooring vs. Hardwood Flooring

Consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to flooring - from carpeting to hardwood flooring and vinyl, the range in flooring options are almost endless. Solid hardwood flooring is still an enormously popular choice, but laminate flooring has come a long way, and some consumers prefer the benefits of synthetic materials.

Here’s everything you need to know about laminate flooring versus hardwood flooring:

What's the major difference between solid hardwood and laminate flooring?

Hardwood floors are an excellent choice for almost any room of the home, except for bathrooms due to the high moisture content. Hardwood flooring usually comes in two basic types: solid wood planks or engineered planks. The solid type is made from a single piece of timber that has been milled to a uniform size, and they do not contain a core or underlying layer.

Advances in manufacturing techniques make it easier for laminate producers to turn out high quality flooring that looks like real wood. Engineered hardwood floors, sometimes called laminate hardwood floors, are manufactured by laminating several individual layers together, but it's still considered a hardwood floor because the surface layer is a thin slice of real hardwood veneer.

What are the benefits of laminate flooring v. hardwood flooring?

Laminate flooring has a few benefits over hardwood flooring, especially in terms of cost and installation. Because laminate hardwood flooring is constructed with built-in tongue and groove joints, laminate flooring is often easier and less expensive than hardwood and, there’s no need for messy glues or adhesives. Most laminate flooring is also factory pre-finished, which means that it can be used the moment it has been laid in place.

On the other hand, solid hardwood flooring is much more durable than laminate. These floors can also be sanded and refinished, making them like new at any point in their lifespan. Most hardwood floors can easily last more than 50 years.

There are also advantages to finished and unfinished hardwood. If you want to match the existing woodwork, you may wish to go with unfinished so it can be stained to blend in. However, prefinished hardwoods also have some great benefits: longer finish warranties, uniform stain application, and a cleaner environment. Also, the direction the boards are laid make a difference; diagonal boards make the room appear larger, but you'll need more material.

How do you clean and maintain hardwood floors vs. laminate floors?

Hardwood flooring requires little maintenance and cleaning is simple. Periodically mop them with a product that is safe for urethane finishes, and don't use oil or ammonia-based cleaners. Always blot spills and spots with a damp cloth as soon as they happen and try not to go too overboard with the soaking.

The same is true for laminate flooring. Cleaning is simple, much like hardwood floors. For tough spots, such as paint, markers or lipstick, use mineral spirits on a clean white cloth, then wipe with a damp cloth.

How does pricing and installation vary from laminate to hardwood?

The price of hardwood flooring depends on the species of tree and the application, and usually ranges anywhere from $8-$12 per square foot. Installation time will vary depending on the square footage, finish and if installing engineered or solid hardwood floors. If installing a prefinished hardwood floor, you can move your furniture back the same day.

Have you had laminate or hardwood flooring installed? What are your favorite styles or preferences? Tell us what you think! And for all your flooring and carpeting questions, call Smart Carpet at 1-800-526-7847!