Both laminate flooring and hardwood flooring are valid options, with hardwood floors being the most popular choice for a lifetime floor, and laminate flooring replicating the look of hardwoods for less of an initial investment. However, in the long-run, since laminates cannot be refinished (only replaced every 10 years), the costs will eventually add up.
Laminate Flooring vs. Solid Hardwood: The Differences
If you’ve ever swung your feet off the bed onto a hardwood floor, you know that hard, cold feeling that meets your feet first thing in the morning. In contrast, laminate flooring is installed over a foam underlayment, so there’s a bit of cush under your footfall. A big plus with laminate flooring is that it can be installed over radiant heat systems to ward off that cold feeling that hardwood flooring has.
This is a taste of the differences between the two. Let’s examine the main differences now.
Choosing between laminate and solid hardwood flooring boils down to a few things like:
- Budget – How to Figure Costs
This is where a little math gets involved. As mentioned above, hardwood flooring can last a lifetime and can be refinished along the way, whereas laminate flooring lasts about 10 years and must be replaced.
How to Figure Lifetime Costs
A lot of things come into play when figuring lifetime costs, as opposed to per project costs. It helps to think of scenarios.
Flipping Houses or Selling Your Home
- if you are flipping a house for resale it makes sense to maximize profits by using a less expensive flooring product.
New Home Owners:
- If you have just endured the costs of purchasing a home that you plan on living in for a long time, it can make sense to replace the current flooring with laminate if your budget is already pretty tapped out. You can defer the cost of installing hardwood flooring for ten years, which gives you time to save.
- On the other hand, replacing floors with solid hardwood flooring now, can save you the costs and inconvenience of moving out in ten years, while the floor is replaced.
Solid Hardwood Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring Costs
Using the cost factors below, a home that you live in for 30 years has these costs:
- $8 and $15 per linear foot for solid hardwood flooring. This is a lifetime cost.
- Laminate flooring costs about 50% less than solid hardwood, but must be replaced about every ten years, so you must triple the cost.
Solid Hardwood Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring: Attractiveness
Obviously, solid hardwood floors convey a premium look and feel. Welcoming guests into an expanse of glowing hardwood floors is an event that can elicit Ooh’s and Ahh’s from them.
From a distance, high quality laminate flooring can mimic the look of solid wood, but upon closer inspection it’s obvious that it’s a printed design.
Solid Hardwood Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring: Durability
- Neither flooring type is recommended for wet areas.
- Laminate flooring lasts about 10 years, and prior to that can show wear patterns in high traffic areas.
- Hardwood lasts a lifetime, or 100 years, whichever comes first.
Solid Hardwood Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring: Benefits
- Hardwood flooring nearly always adds real estate value if in good shape. Laminate does now.
- Laminate is softer under foot than hardwood and can be installed over radiant heating systems.
Top Flooring Brands
Best Hardwood Flooring Brands:
Best Laminate Flooring Brands:
Worst Laminate Flooring Brands:
- TrafficMaster has the worst quality
- Cheap Armstrong has the worst warranty
Before you begin any floor project in your home, contact a local flooring expert to help you decide which flooring option is best for your particular application.