Laminate vs Hardwood Flooring: Everything You Need to Know

laminate vs hardwood

The flooring business is a multi-billion dollar industry. Choosing the right flooring option for your home can be a little overwhelming because of the sheer number of options.

If you’ve ruled out carpet and tile, your next decision is laminate vs hardwood flooring. This guide will walk you through the pros and cons of both flooring options to help you choose the best type of flooring for your home.

Hardwood Floors

Sales of hardwood floors topped 2.2 billion dollars in 2019. It’s a wildly popular choice for homeowners because it’s durable and relatively easy to maintain for generations.

Hardwood floors are made from real wood, harvested from trees, and formed into planks. This type of flooring is especially popular among preservationists who want to maintain the authenticity of older homes.

You can achieve almost any look you want, simply because of the different types of wood you can choose from. From light ash to dark mahogany, your choices are plentiful.

Laminate Floors

Laminate floors are not made of real wood. They’re manufactured with several layers of materials. Typically, the bottom layers are fiberboard. That’s covered with what’s called a “photographic” layer that creates the look of real wood. Finally, it’s topped with a protective layer, often a melamine resin.

Laminate flooring is a popular choice for people with kids and pets because it stands up well to spills and scratches. Liquids can be easily wiped up without staining the floor. That’s just one of the advantages of laminate flooring.

Costs of Laminate vs Hardwood

The expense drives the decision for a lot of people. Laminate flooring is generally less expensive than hardwood, although a lot depends on the type of material and the design you choose.

Hardwood floors cost between $5 and $10 per square foot installed. Laminate flooring option run between $3 and $7 per square foot.

The cost for hardwood floors can climb even higher once you calculate the expense to finish, treat, and wax them. Laminate flooring gets more expensive if you choose a high-end product.

Resale Value of Laminate vs Hardwood

If you’re fixing up a home to flip or contemplating a sale down the road, the right flooring option can make a huge difference in the closing price. Wood and wood-look floors can increase the price of your home up to 2.5 percent.

The average return on investment (ROI) for installing hardwood floors is between 70 and 80 percent. By comparison, the ROI for installing carpet is between 25 and 40 percent.

The Look of Laminate vs Hardwood

There’s no question that hardwood floors look like real wood. But laminate flooring has come a long way in the past decade or so. It’s hard to tell the difference now between hardwood and high-end laminate flooring.

One of the biggest complaints about laminate flooring is the pattern can appear too repetitive. An easy way around this is to open several boxes of flooring and mix up the planks when the floor is being installed.

Location Is Everything

Second to cost, the location of your flooring is important when deciding on laminate vs hardwood. Hardwood floors can swell when exposed to high humidity. They’re not a good choice for bathrooms.

Laminate may be a better choice for your whole house if you live in an area with high humidity. Florida residents, for example, may opt for laminate rather than hardwood.

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