Hardwood vs. Laminate: Which Floor Is Right for You

Which Floor Is Right for You: Hardwood or Laminate

When choosing wood flooring, it often becomes a decision of hardwood vs. laminate. Both are good, but which is best for your needs?

Deciding which floor is best for you comes down to several factors. Do you love hardwood for its rugged authenticity? Or do you prefer laminate for its lower price, scratch resistance, and easier installation?

Whatever you choose, there is a good chance you're going to be walking on it for a long time. Whether it's your dream floor or you just got to get rid of your dirty carpet, compare the pros and cons before settling for what you need.

Hardwood vs. Laminate

While they can look very similar, the feel, installation, and durability between these floors are very different. But one isn't necessarily better than the other, so decide what your project calls for.

Pros and Cons of Hardwood Floors

Bruce Hardwood

Hardwood floors are more of the luxury option. They look and feel great but have a higher price tag. 

Pros

It's real wood, a natural product with no pattern repeats. Hardwood flooring is durable and can last a lifetime if properly cared for.

Factory finishes are very durable. When the time comes, it can be refinished to remove scratches or other damage. Solid wood more so than engineered, but even many engineered hardwood floors can take a refinish or two.

Mohawk's TecWood has a core called "Enhanced Engineered Core" that provides greater stability and dent resistance than both solid wood floors and traditional engineered wood flooring.

Some home buyers like the look of older hardwood floors, as many wood floors will gain character with age and use. Additionally, this feature can potentially increase the resale value of the house. 

Cons

This type of flooring is more expensive to install and a bigger commitment to DIY. While it can be sanded down and refinished, it will eventually get to the point where it just has to be replaced.

Sun can bleach or discolor the wood, changing it's look. Water can completely ruin the floor and call for a new installation, depending on the damage.

Pets can damage the floor with their claws — even cats can leave claw marks. Moving heavy furniture recklessly can gouge deep, leaving marks beyond a single restoration. Due to its natural properties, the material may shrink over time, which causes gaps to form between boards.

While many floors may have requirements when it comes to the amount of humidity you have, wood flooring is the most sensitive and the most likely to receive a denied warranty claim if those requirements are not met.

Pros and Cons of Laminate Floors

Laminate Floor: Mohawk Rare Vintage

Considered the more economical option, laminate floors have some advantages over hardwood. 

Pros

Because the image is printed on, there is more than just wood patterns available. Now days many laminate floors have an amazing look that may confuse some to whether or not it is real wood, laminate is suitable for most non-wet applications and can be perfect for lower cost projects. Best of all, it is easier and less expensive to install, you can even install it on your own with a little know-how.

A laminate floor is difficult to scratch, and due to its protective surface and highly dense core, it takes a lot of force to damage it. This material is more resistant to wear and sun damage than hardwood. 

Cons

Even the best laminate floors will not look as nice as a quality real wood floor.

The surface is printed, and there will be repeats. Keep this in mind when selecting a floor, as a color with a very distinctive knot will have that same knot throughout your finished installation. Some selections the repeats may blend in, while some may have a spot that stands out and catches your attention.

When a laminate floor gets damaged, it cannot be refinished. Moisture will cause damage in a relatively little amount of time on most laminate floors, so you need to be extra careful with water and spills. They will absorb water where pieces join, eventually causing swelling and chipping along the edges. Mohawk's RevWood Plus does have a waterproof warranty if you seal the edges during installation, and Shaw's Repel has a certain level of water resistance, however we still recommend being careful with excessive moisture.

You Decide

When it comes to hardwood vs. laminate, take a good look at your project. Do you need a quick, easy floor for a room that gets a lot of abuse? Or do you prefer a good looking, long lasting floor you want to see for decades?

Either way, we carry what you need at the prices you want. Make sure to browse our Mohawk and Shaw flooring options, and check out our other blog posts for more tips to help you decide on what type of floor your project needs.

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