Although they are not real wood, laminate floors have many advantages over hardwoods. They are easier to install, are very resistant to stains, fading and scratches and come pre-finished. While laminate floors cannot be refinished like hardwoods, they are relatively inexpensive when compared to solid wood floors. Given the right care, hardwood floors may last a lifetime. Laminates will typically last 20 years or less assuming no major damage. Depending on where you want to install new flooring, your budget and your desire to do the job yourself, you may find that laminates offer you more flexibility. Compare hardwoods and laminates before settling on a material.
Benefits of Hardwood Floors
To begin, hardwood floors possess stunning visual characteristics that give new life to a room as well as increase the value of the home. Hardwoods allow for several refinishes and in fact require them in order to get the most life out of the material. Depending on the coating applied to the hardwoods, they have the ability to resist scratches, stains and fading from sunlight. There are many different species of wood available for flooring, from oak to hickory to maple. Each of these woods offers a different look for your flooring.
Benefits of Laminates
In contrast to hardwoods, laminate floors are not wood at all. They consist of a base of composite material coated with chemically-infused paper. Laminates are easily installed, as they do not fasten to the sub-floor. They simply rest atop it. Thus, they make an ideal DIY floor project. Laminate floors do not require wax or polish, yet they are very resistant to scratches, fading and stains as well as impacts.
Disadvantages of Hardwoods and Laminate Floors
First off, hardwoods usually come unsealed and require some type of sealant upon installation. Despite this, they are susceptible to damage from moisture which is why you should never install hardwoods in areas of the home prone to moisture. In addition, they require a sub-floor onto which they fasten with either nails or glue or by floating them. Pre-finished hardwoods have a less-involved installation procedure, but with other types installation can be difficult. Lastly, hardwood floors are expensive due to the relative scarcity of the wood used. The rarer the wood, the higher the price.
Laminates, while less expensive and more easily installed, are a cheaper product. You cannot refinish them, and repairs are difficult. They will not last as long as hardwoods given the same amount of care, and their ability to withstand moisture only goes so far. Laminate floors sound different than hardwoods when walked on, an effect that is in part mitigated by underlaying pads.
Depending on the look you desire for your flooring, you might achieve with either hardwood or laminate floors. Although laminate floors are not wood, they offer a number of advantages. They are easily installed, less expensive and make excellent flooring to use with radiant floor heat. Nothing compares to the look of hardwoods or, to a certain extent, engineered woods. However, laminate floors are extremely durable and are made to resemble many species of real wood. You can give your home a look close to that of hardwoods without the hassle or expense by opting for laminate floors.