If you are thinking about switching to a wood floor then you might be comparing hardwood floor vs laminate. There are many differences between these two materials and they should be weighed carefully in your decision.
Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic product designed to look like real wood. The inside layer of laminate flooring is made from melamine resin and fiber board material and the top layer has an imprinted wood textured image.
Engineered hardwood flooring is a type of wood floor made of several wood or plywood layers. The bottom and middle layers are manufactured from cross-laid solid wood or plywood planks. The top layer is a solid sawn wood lamella, often stained and pre-finished in a factory.
Solid hardwood flooring planks are made from a single, solid piece of wood and can be bought unfinished or pre-finished.
Solid or engineered hardwood is beautiful because of the texture variation of the wood grain, which means that no two planks of hardwood flooring are alike. Laminate flooring has patterns designed to imitate the look of wood texture imprinted onto the floor surface. Identical patterns are repeated about every five boards.
Durability and Repair
The way your flooring is cared for and the amount of foot traffic it receives will clearly affect its durability.
Laminate flooring tends to be very durable because it is harder than natural wood. It is also highly resistant to moisture damage, staining or fading. Many laminate flooring manufacturers include a 10-25 year warranty on the finish. If laminate flooring is damaged it is difficult to hide the damage and you can end up stuck replacing the entire floor.
The durability of natural hard wood floors varies greatly depending on the finish and the way it was built. Because of its softness, it is vulnerable to dents and scratches but the area can also be repaired fairly easily by sanding and re-oiling.
Hardwood is a “breathing” material that responds to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. It is best to choose hardwood in rooms and climates where humidity levels are kept to about 50%. It is best to avoid hardwood in kitchens and bathrooms where it is difficult to control humidity.
Laminate floors have high resistance to moisture and are often used for kitchens, bathrooms, basements and humid climates.
Laminate floors are easy to maintain with regular sweeping, dry mopping, or wiping with a damp cloth. Solid and engineered hardwood floors require a little more care: they should be cleaned with special hardwood flooring cleaners that come recommended by your manufacturer. Avoid harsh chemicals, detergents or furniture polish as they can damage the finish and void your warranty. Clean up spills promptly to avoid penetration into the wood.
In longevity, hardwood floors have a distinct advantage. Laminate floors have a relatively short life-span of about twenty years. The finish will eventually just wear out and destroy the floor and there is no option to repair laminate flooring. Solid and engineered hardwood floors can last a lifetime (40-80 years or more) when they are well-maintained. When the finish wears out in ten-twenty years, the entire floor surface can be sanded down and refinished. True hard wood can be refinished up to seven times and engineered wood can be refinished up to four times.
Solid hardwood floors are 100% organic and engineered hardwood is mostly organic. Laminate floors require a lot of processing and glue to manufacture and are therefore not organic. You want to choose a reputable manufacturer who is committed to producing flooring that doesn’t contain VOC emissions or formaldehyde ridden glue. Floors containing these toxins will continue to emit toxins into the air even after installation.
When it’s time to replace the floor, solid and engineered hardwood can be recycled without any damage to the environment. Laminate flooring ends up in the landfill.
There are subtle but important difference between hardwood floors and laminate floors and while both are readily available, hardwood floor is often the smarter investment. Hardwood floor can be well protected and decorated with a fine Oriental rug. If you buy a fine rug to decorate your hardwood floor, keep it in good condition by having it cleaned regularly. Call the rug cleaning experts at Steam Sweepers to schedule your cleaning today!