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Hardwood floors versus Laminate Flooring

Updated on September 1, 2009

Probably one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make for my home was what type of flooring to put in.  I knew I wanted to have the look and feel of hardwood but wasn't sure exactly what I needed in regards to my lifestyle.  And as a flooring friend of mine (his family has been in the floor business for 60 years now) once told me, choosing flooring isn't as easy as simply picking a color you like and running with requires a bit of forethought.  In this article, I will talk about the reasons why I chose laminate flooring over hardwood floors.  But I have to tell wasn't easy.

Which is better for you? Hardwood or laminate?

A little history. I have horrible allergies and when I bought my first house, it had wall to wall carpet. I didn't want carpet. The house was a little over 2,000 square foot and after having a contractor professionally measure the rooms, I figured that over 1,250 square foot that I was going to have to lay hardwood on.

After doing a little number crunching and with very little insight into what I wanted other than color, I figured that the cost of laying hardwood floors was going to be roughly $8.25 a square foot or over $9,000 after everything was said and done. I couldn't afford this much hardwood and decided to actually learn the difference between brands and hardwoods as well as search for cheap wood flooring alternatives.

Which ultimately brought me to laminate wood flooring.

How easy is it to install laminate flooring?

Hardwood Floors vs. Laminate Flooring..Price Point is the first difference

I probably went to 10-20 different flooring places pricing hardwood floors. Installation of hardwood floors typically costs around $3 per square foot. The average that I found, barring exotic wood, was around the 4-6 dollar range.

On the other hand, laminate flooring typically is much less expensive (because it isn't hardwood at all) although it has the same look as hardwood. The average price I found with laminate floors was in the $2-3 dollar range with a few going for less than $1. Additionally, in most cases, since laminate flooring doesn't require glue or nails, the cost of labor averages out around $2.

In this case Laminate flooring wins hands-down....

Will Hardwood Floors Increase the Price of my House?

Many hardwood floor companies will readily show you proof that adding hardwood flooring to your house will raise the value of your home. But is it true?

While hardwood is definitely a plus for most home buyers, the reality is that you really have to look at the comparables in your area and see if they have hardwood and what they are pricing their house. Considering that adding 2,000 square feet of flooring will cost you almost $16,000, you would need to assume that a comparable house in your area with hardwood will be priced $10,000 dollars above your pricing. If it isn't, then you may want to consider other surfaces such as laminate as a cost effective way to simulate hardwood.

Laminate flooring may be the better option if the comparables around your area are wall to wall carpet or they are using other types of flooring surfaces. While you won't get the feel of wood under your feet, you will definitely have the "look".

All this said, installing hardwood flooring may help you sell your house just may not be a sound investment.

Hardwood Floors vs. Laminate Flooring- What does each feel like?

The downside to laminate flooring is that in most cases, it won't be able to simulate the feel of hardwood under your feet. Laminate doesn't have as much give in the boards and is slippery and harder than hardwood.  While it may be easier to install, it won't "give" and will feel more like a ceramic tile kitchen floor than a hardwood floor.

Laminate Flooring vs. Hardwood Floors..This guy makes installing hardwood look like a breeze....

Laminate Flooring is best for pets and children

One of the reasons I eventually went with laminate was because of my 21 month old, who likes to throw things down on the ground and also because of my two dogs which are over 60 pounds.  Laminate is just more sturdy and resistant to chipping and cracking that is common with hardwood.  I did a lot of research on hardwood flooring and read my fill of customer reviews and what I came away from reading the reviews was that hardwood is simply not as durable as laminate flooring.

Now, if you are a single professional or newly married with no pets, then hardwood flooring may be an option.  To determine the hardness of the wood you select, there is an industry standard test called the Janka Hardness test.  This test measures the force of required to embed a steel ball into the word.  The more pounds of pressure it takes, the more solid and durable the hardwood.

A downside to choosing laminate flooring over hardwood is that you can't refinish laminate.  In other words, once it is damaged, there is very little you can do to repair the plank.  With hardwood, you have a myriad of options to repairing hardwood floors.


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    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Really good info, I am looking at replaceing some carpet with either hardwood or laminate. I think my choice just got easier, thanks for sharing. Voted Up and Useful!

    • profile image

      Rita 6 years ago


      When I moved in my newly purchased house, 6 years ago, the hardwood floor in m dining and living area looked great. now it's all chipped, scratched, peeling off and very dull looking. I do not have much monew and do not feel like having to sand down and revarnish this hardwood floor every 6-7 years. It has actually become an ennemy to me.

      Should I consider replacing it with laminate flooring or take the bullet and have it sanded and revarnished....


    • profile image

      fredrick 7 years ago

      thanks for your insight.....

    • poketo secret profile image

      poketo secret 8 years ago from idaho

      Hello I just wanted to say i think you made the right choice.Have a great day and enjoy your new floors