Laminate Vs Hardwood: Can You Save Money AND Have Great Floors?

Laminate vs Hardwood

When many people consider getting laminate vs hardwood, they are drawn to the lower cost of laminate. Yes, that's right. It costs less. That's why people look at it? After all, why spend extra dollars when they maybe don't really NEED to be spent?

But the issue here is you may not get the kind of savings you were looking for, as there are strong reasons to consider hardwood vs laminate as well. It all comes down to you and what your specific needs in flooring are. After all, cost savings now can lead to false economies later.

So why consider laminate flooring vs hardwood? Let's get into it.

Defining The Difference

Hard Wood Floors SpokaneBefore we go further, we should define what hardwood vs laminate flooring is, as well as the popular middle ground of engineered hardwood flooring.

Laminate flooring is a composite, made with layers of material including resins and other polymers, and a finished, textured surface that looks like wood. Often, it does contain a layer or two of fiberboard, so some wood is in it...but do not be fooled, as it is a synthetic product through and through.

Engineered hardwood flooring is made of several layers of wood. Usually, you have a layer or two of plywood or particle board with a hardwood veneer on the top. Typically, the top layer is stained and prefinished to look just like hardwood flooring.

Hardwood flooring is solid planks of actual wood. Sometimes it's treated by the factory, sometimes it isn't.

Flooring Appearance

When it comes to laminate vs hardwood flooring appearance, there will be some differences. Laminate looks like a product. Every shingle and board will look about the same, with about every 5 being identical. Granted, some laminate flooring - usually commanding a higher price - will look a little closer to actual wood, but not so much that you couldn't tell the two apart.

Thing is though that wood...just isn't completely reproducible. Variations in grain occur organically, with both engineered AND hardwood. It looks like a piece of quality wood because that's what it is, whether it's the thin veneer of engineered flooring or a hardwood plank.

So, laminate will look like wood but at more than a glance will reveal itself.


Durability is another consideration to make in considering laminate vs hardwood.

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Laminate flooring is certainly tougher than linoleum, this is true. It stands up to abrasion better than hardwood as all but the hardest of hardwoods yield to sharp indentations. Even then, they still do. Laminate, being a synthetic material, will be lower maintenance in this regard. Many manufacturers offer 10 to even 25-year warranties.

Engineered flooring and hardwood flooring must be treated carefully when it comes to such things unless you want the worn look. Some people find it desirable, after all.

Laminates are also a bit more resistant to moisture and certainly to staining and fading. However, they do not withstand any acerbic chemicals very well. Coca-Cola, for instance, can damage laminate finishes if not cleaned up immediately. You even have to stay away from typical cleaners and cleansers.

This is also where hardwood flooring pulls away from laminate flooring. Hardwood flooring is far more resistant to chemicals. Additionally, if a touch-up is required, it can be easily done. A bit of sanding, a new coat of stain and voila! As good as new as soon as it dries. In this regard, a hardwood floor can be kept looking good for decades.

Laminate flooring, however, will eventually fade and when it does, the only option is replacing it. You can expect around 20 years of life out of it.

Wood flooring can be refinished multiple times over without issue, so its life can be decades. For instance, the YMCA in Paris, France has an oak basketball court that was installed in 1895.

Ultimately, it really depends on what YOU want out of your hardwood or laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring gives you the wood look, but don't last as long. However, they stand up to high traffic and moisture better though they don't do as well with many chemicals. Once damaged, however, they have to be replaced. Thus, the lower upfront cost will likely be a higher lifetime cost if you have the floors long-term.

Hardwood floors, on the other hand, have a more organic look and aesthetic appeal. They require a bit more care in the day to day and don't stand up as well to moisture. However, repairs are not only possible but easy. They also can last a lifetime - even more than a century, if properly cared for.


Do you want a floor that will look just good enough and last awhile? Or do you want to invest in your home with a natural product that looks astounding and will last generations? Give us a call.