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What are the Advantages of Laminate versus Hardwood Flooring?

When it comes to replacing the flooring in your home, there are many options available on the market. From traditional hardwood and carpeting to new laminate flooring, it can make your head spin with all the choices you have. Determining the right flooring for your home depends on the needs of your household.

What Is Laminate Flooring?

If you’re new to the flooring market, you may not be familiar with laminate style flooring. This is a synthetic floor with multiple layers fused together. The bottom layer is made of a fiberboard material. The inner layer is the design that typically is constructed to look like traditional hardwood flooring. The top layer is simply a protective coating. Laminate can come in a variety of designs and colors.

laminate flooring options

What Is Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood flooring is defined as any type of wood that is manufactured into flooring material. This option comes in various colors, styles, cuts, and wood species. There are five main wood types that are utilized for hardwood flooring. These include oak, cherry, maple, hickory, and walnut. Each wood species sports its own unique wood texture.

Now, you should have a clear idea of what the difference is between laminate and hardwood flooring. Deciding which one is best for your home requires you to take multiple factors into account from the price of the flooring to its durability. Let’s take a look at what some of the advantages of laminate are over the traditional hardwood flooring.

Advantages of Laminate

It’s Cheaper

When it comes to laminate plank flooring, it’s much cheaper than traditional hardwood flooring. Laminate has a wide range of flooring prices depending on the quality of the flooring. On the cheaper end of things, you can pick up laminate planks that are about 1/8 of an inch thick at your local hardware store for about one dollar per square foot.

The lower end laminate planks should be used for low traffic areas as they can wear faster because the material is thinner. Most homeowners will need to invest in the medium grade, eight-millimeter thick laminate planks for their homes. These cost about two to four dollars per square foot depending on the style you opt to purchase.

If your home gets a lot of traffic, then a 12-millimeter thick laminate plank is going to be the best option. This comes in around four to five dollars per square foot. Comparing all these laminate prices, you can expect to spend anywhere from one to five dollars per square foot. With hardwood, you can expect to pay about five dollars per square foot of lower quality wood like ash or oak. For the higher quality hardwood flooring, expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $12 per square foot.

DIY Friendly

We all know that paying someone to do the installation of our floor requires a higher budget. If you have some spare time, you may be considering installing your new flooring yourself. Laminate is a great material for DIYers to install in their homes. These are referred to as floating floors. They simply click together with tongue and groove joints. This eliminates the need for glue or another form of adhesive.

Most of the lower to mid-quality laminate planks can be installed with the use of a hammer and a knife to cut the planks to size. Some homeowners may prefer to rent a laminate floor cutter from their local hardware store for the mid to high-quality laminate materials. It’s important to note that with laminate, it’s very easy to learn how to install the pieces together in a few moments.

With hardwood flooring, there’s a larger learning curve. Hardwood requires the use of special tools like floor nailers and woodcutters. The nailers and staplers can be a bit difficult to figure out at first. Also, hardwood is a heftier material that will require more physical strength to work with than the laminate plank flooring.

Can Be Installed Over Radiant Heat

One of the best attributes regarding laminate flooring is that it can be installed directly over radiant heat. There’s no need to worry about the heat destroying the laminate planks. Compare this to wood, and you’ll find out that it’s never recommended to install radiant heat under hardwood floors. Due to laminate’s ability to be installed over radiant flooring, it can be utilized in areas like the bathroom and basement.

Better Protection Against Pets

If you have some furry friends, then you may want to consider laminate over the traditional hardwood flooring. Due to the nature of the construction of laminate planks, they are gouge-proof. Your pet’s claws will just simply slide right across the laminate material. There’s no need to worry about getting nicks and unwanted wear marks on your floor.

When it comes to hardwood flooring, it doesn’t mix well with pets. Their claws can gouge the hardwood, making noticeable divots. In addition, claw marks can be easily worn into the hardwood finish. Many professionals recommend using rugs or mats over hardwood to protect against pet damage. It’s just easier to install laminate flooring since you know that you’ll be protected.

Simple Cleaning

When thinking about what type of floor you want to install, it’s important to take the maintenance of that flooring into consideration. Laminate is a very easy material to clean. Simply using soap and water, you can get rid of unwanted spills and stains on your laminate flooring. The only cleaning precaution you need to be aware of is that you don’t want to leave standing water on the floor for extended periods of time. It will seep into the tongue and groove joints, which can make them less effective.

Cleaning hardwood flooring is another story. You have to be very careful about how much water gets on the floor. You’ll need to work in small sections and utilize the help of a drying cloth or drying mop to wick up the excess water quickly. You must purchase the right cleaning product specifically designed for hardwood as other cleaning products can leave behind oils that can be damaging to the hardwood.

Better For Humidity

If you’ve done any research on flooring, you know that humidity and temperature changes are a hot topic of discussion. The concept of the flooring material expanding and contracting can wreak havoc on the look of a room. With laminate, you don’t really need to worry about humidity-related problems as it doesn’t shrink or expand to any noticeable level.

Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, doesn’t have issues with humidity. It will expand and contract with the temperatures throughout the year. For this reason, hardwood has to be acclimated to the specific environment it is installed in. The moisture content of the hardwood flooring planks should match the home’s moisture content level. If the hardwood flooring is not properly acclimated to the environment it’s being installed in, it can result in unwanted swelling of the floor. If the moisture content is too high, it can result in unwanted shrinking of the wood floor planks.

Hopefully, you now have a clear idea of what the advantages of laminate are over the traditional hardwood flooring. Most homeowners will find that opting for laminate is in their best interest for both their budget, installation time, and overall floor usage. Laminate can be easily installed by the homeowner or it can be installed by a paid professional, depending on the homeowner’s preferences.

If you’re in the Northern New Mexico area and are looking for the best laminate flooring options and shopping for your options – call the experts!