ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hardwood Floors vs. Laminate Flooring...which is better?

Updated on March 16, 2010

Hardwood is great but for many, the industry has seen a change in terms of a less expensive alternative.  What we are talking about is laminate flooring and in this article I intend to show the upsides as well as the downsides of laminate versus hardwood.

Are laminate floors more durable and scratch resistant than hardwood?
This is a question that many ask.  After all, if you have kids or large dogs, the chances of the eventual scratch or dent is going to happen…the chances are much greater if you have true wood floors.  The short answer is yes, laminate flooring is more durable than traditional hardwood flooring.  This said, although laminate is technically more scratch resistant than wood, this doesn’t mean that they ARE scratch resistant.  Things like moving heavy furniture, large objects dropping on the floor as well high heels can damage any floors…this includes laminate.

All this said, some wood products are more susceptible to scratching than others.  As a contractor once told me, “hardwood floors are like cars….no matter how much care you take, you will eventually get a scratch.”

Are Laminate floors more easily maintained than hardwood?
The answer in short is yes, they are easier to maintain.  The problem with hardwood is, depending on the place and traffic, you will eventually have to refinish your floors.  In a lot of areas, such as the kitchen, this could be once a year or once every other year.  With laminate, you don’t have to worry about this type of maintenance because this type of floor can’t be refinished…which may not be as good as you think.

What if you damage your laminate flooring?  Is it easier to repair than hardwood?

One of the biggest upsides to purchasing hardwood over laminate is that in the event that you wind up with a damaged plank or section of floor, repairing a hardwood floor is much easier than repairing a laminate floor.  The reason though isn’t as obvious as you would think.  Repairing a hardwood plank is as easy as taking the plank out, measuring the width and length and installing a new plank.  Then you can refinish and stain the floor to match your current one.  With laminate flooring, because the flooring is nothing more than a photocopy of wood, you will have to find the brand line that you bought and, if it isn’t discontinued, purchase a replacement.

The problems will start to surface when you realize exactly how fast these brand lines do get discontinued.  If you can’t find the exact brand, you will be left either looking for a comparative match or simply leaving it damaged.  There are professionals that can repair a laminate floor but make no bones about it….it is a job made for the pros, not the weekend do-it-yourself handyman.

Another issue with damage is water damage.  While hardwood is more likely to become damaged from water, the problem could be reversed fairly quickly.  If your laminate flooring gets damaged by water, then chances are greater that you will have to replace the planks or sections damaged.

Hardwood Floors will start to fade and change colors….but will laminate?
Hardwood floors react naturally to sunlight so if you have flooring in a particularly bright room with lots of natural light and decide to move that rug in the middle of the room that has been in place for years, expect there to be color variations in the wood.  The same thing applies to a bookshelf, couch or literally any piece of furniture in the room.

On the other hand, because laminate isn’t “wood”, there is no chance of a color change due to photosynthesis.  Laminate hardwood planks or sections have a photographed image of the wood they are trying to replicate.  What this means is that if you want the same look 10 years from now, then laminate may be the better option.

You can’t refinish or resurface laminate hardwood
One of the biggest disadvantages of laminate is that what you see is what you are gonna get.  This may be okay if you are completely sold on the stain and don’t mind living with it several years down the road.  However, unlike hardwood, if you decide that you want a change in the look of your flooring, you will have to install new laminate flooring.  With hardwood flooring, you can restain or resurface your floors yearly if you want and change the look if you ever have a change of heart.

This is one of the bigger (but not biggest) downsides to going with laminate over hardwood.

Is Laminate Natural looking?

One of the bigger downsides to purchasing laminate flooring is that the photographed images will start to repeat giving the look of the room a more fabricated one.  This can be a real big problem, especially if you are buying the cheaper brand lines who are willing to have more repeating planks and sections in their product.  With hardwoood, there is no comparison.  Much like a snowflake, every piece of wood will be unique with no repeating patterns.  From an aesthetic viewpoint, this will give hardwood flooring the edge because it is “organic” rather than fabricated.

Which has a longer lifespan?  Hardwood or Laminate?

Given the fact that laminate floors are usually nothing more than compressed plywood topped with an acrylic photographed image, you would think that laminate would stand the test of time compared to wood.  However, the typical lifespan for more laminate products is less than 20 years although there are some better made product lines that have warranties all the way up to 30 years.  Still, compare this to hardwood floors which can not only easily last two decades but can surpass the century mark with relative ease and you will understand why hardwood floors are so expensive.

If you were to compare the price of reinstalling laminate floors throughout the years, you would see that hardwood is not as expensive, at least over the long haul.

Can’t I install laminate in more places than hardwood floors?
The reality is that you can, although thanks to engineered wood, the places where you can’t install hardwood species isn’t as large as it once was.  For instance, while laminate will react better to higher humidity or dryer places because it isn’t technically wood, the difference is really nominal.  And in regards to water (wood’s greatest enemy), there is very little difference between the two.  In other words, you will have to take the same care of your floors if you were to install them in your kitchen, bathroom or basement, regardless of flooring type.

Will Installing Laminate Floors increase the resale value of my home?
While it is no secret that hardwood floors will easily boost the resale value of a home (making it a great equity boosting remodel), laminate floors don’t get the same amount of love.  There is no supporting evidence that shows that installing laminate floors in your home will increase the value of your home like hardwood flooring.  There is actually no evidence that would indicate that it would increase your home’s value, even nominally.

The Bottom Line
As you can see, installing laminate flooring is good for a family on a budget with kids or dogs because it is less likely to get scratched.  Dirt tends to show more on laminate than hardwood but this issue is negligible.

The bigger question is how long do you intend to stay in your home?  If you are planning to sell, then installing hardwood would provide a better price when you put it on the market.  If you are planning to stay and are unsure whether you will like hardwood, then laminate is the perfect alternative.  After all, it is likely that it won’t last longer than 20 years and you can reinstall a different look later.  While hardwood floors don’t have to be permanent, in most cases, the cost of installing them is much greater than other types of floors and thus a good deterrant.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Guys will likely be his or her tools.

      Mother nature abhors the actual bathwater.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)