Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring

What is the difference for solid hardwood and laminate flooring?

Solid hardwood flooring is made from actual pieces of hardwood, and it looks amazing in any room of your house. The boards are typically really thick, and they have a special groove that helps keep them in place. To install the floor, you just have to nail the boards down, but you can also choose prefinished options if you’d like.

Laminate flooring is produced with a core layer of wood byproducts, which is then covered by a design layer printed to resemble various materials. The design is shielded by a clear wear layer that provides excellent resistance against scratches and stains. Laminate flooring boards are relatively thin, measuring between 6 to 12 mm (1/4- to 1/2-inch) thick. Furthermore, these boards feature click-lock edges that snap together and do not require either nailing or glue.

Appearance

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring is a distinguished and elegant building material that exudes unparalleled prestige. Even economically priced real hardwood options such as red or white oak surpass the aesthetic appeal of artificial premium species commonly found in laminates.

Laminate

Upon closer inspection, it is discernible that laminate flooring differs from authentic hardwood. Although it can resemble genuine wood from afar, it is important to take note that laminate planks repeat patterns. Therefore, it is imperative to mix the planks during installation for optimal results.

Newer, high-quality laminates currently feature a more sporadic repeat design while also incorporating a surface-grain texture to create a true-to-life flooring experience. However, the wood-like appearance is not without flaws.

Water and Heat Resistance

Solid Hardwood

Whilst solid hardwood is a popular choice for domestic kitchens, it is not recommended for wet areas. This is due to the fact that standing water and floods can cause significant damage. Should you choose to install hardwood flooring over radiant heating systems, it is important to note that heating the wood can result in shrinkage and the opening up of joints.

Laminate

Laminate surfaces are widely recognized for their exceptional resistance to stains and water. It is worth noting, however, that excess moisture seeping through the planks’ joints may trigger the edges and fiberboard core to swell and chip. As a result, we do not recommend using laminate flooring in areas susceptible to damp conditions, such as bathrooms. It is good to know that laminate flooring can be placed atop radiant heating systems, thanks to its remarkable heat resistance.

Care and Cleaning

Solid Hardwood

Maintaining a solid hardwood floor is a straightforward process: sweeping or using a vacuum, and damp-mopping with a wood cleaner. It is noteworthy that today’s wood floors mostly come pre-finished, negating the need for polishing or waxing.

Laminate

Laminate flooring can be easily maintained with a vacuum or broom. We recommend mopping with a damp mop that is moistened with a laminate floor cleaner. It is unnecessary to wax laminate floors. It is important to avoid excessive water and never use a steam cleaner to clean them.

Durability and Maintenance

Solid Hardwood

Hardwood flooring has the potential to last a lifetime, or possibly even exceed it. However, unexpected circumstances, such as flooding, have the potential to render a hardwood floor without worth if the water is not promptly removed. To maintain the quality of a hardwood floor, it is recommended to periodically recoat or refinish it, based on the wear and care it receives. It is also recommended to periodically reseal the floor; when significant harm occurs, the floor can be sanded down and refinished. It is important to have professionals perform this task since there is a limited number of times a hardwood floor can be resanded. Typically, most floors can handle about three to four sandings, so careful consideration should be taken when selecting this method.

Laminate

Laminate flooring exhibits moderate resistance against impacts. In case of heavy objects hitting the floor with great force, it may get gouged or dented. Laminate flooring has a maximum lifespan of 10-15 years. The floor’s longevity can be reduced due to hazards like water infiltration, scratches caused by chair legs, and exposure to UV rays. Refinishing or sanding laminate flooring is not possible. However, individual boards can be replaced to restore the flooring.

Installation

Solid Hardwood

Installation of solid hardwood can prove to be quite challenging for individuals who lack professional experience. Rental of specialized equipment, such as a floor nailer or stapler, is imperative. Additionally, unfinished flooring requires a level of expertise in sanding and finishing that is best left to professionals. Conversely, prefinished hardwood flooring eliminates the need for post-installation finishing.

Laminate

Laminate flooring is super easy to install, which is why it’s so popular for DIY projects. You don’t need any fancy tools or glues – the planks just snap together at the edges and sit on top of a thin foam layer. But just FYI, it’s not the best pick for basements.

Cost

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring typically ranges in cost from $4 to $8 per square foot for commonly found species such as oak, maple, and ash. However, more unique hardwoods can command higher prices. When factoring in material and installation costs, solid hardwood flooring can cost anywhere from $14 to $32 per square foot.

Laminate

Laminate flooring usually carries a price tag ranging from $1 to $3 per square foot. High-end designer options are also available, costing as much as $10 to $12 per square foot. Distinguishing the superior, more costly products are their thicker wear layers.

Lifespan

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring can endure for 50 to 100 years with proper maintenance and refinishing, making it a durable and long-lasting investment.

Laminate

Laminate flooring typically has a lifespan of 15 to 25 years.

Comfort and Sound

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring is known for its durability and sturdy structure, making it a popular option for homeowners. Radiant heating systems can even be installed underneath to provide additional warmth. Compared to laminate flooring, solid hardwood provides a natural warmth that requires less auxiliary heating.

Laminate

Laminate flooring provides a soft underfoot feel as it is installed over a foam underlayment. However, as a floating floor, it may occasionally flex underfoot if the subfloor is not level. In addition, the hard plastic wear layer may transmit the sound of foot and pet movement. Radiant heating systems can be used to create a warm and inviting atmosphere with laminate flooring.

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