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Picking a Hardwood or Laminate Floor for Your Home.

Updated on July 30, 2013


Flooring Fashion

Floor coverings have changed over the years. Fashion changes with our dress, hair styles, and flooring. Some may remember that shag carpeting or wall-to-wall carpeting was a reason to cover up beautiful hardwood floors. Both hardwood floors and laminate floors are popular with today’s homeowners

There are great reasons to use either hardwood or laminate floors. There is no one right answer. Things to consider are how long do you plan to be in your home, how many children and pets live in the house, and what is your overall budget. Home design shows around the country have styles that are meant to impress, but may not be right for everyone.

Comparing what Hardwoods and Laminates Offer

  • There is a price difference for hardwood and laminate. If you do not plan to stay in the same house for years, you might want to consider a good quality laminate instead of hardwood. If your home is in a growing, popular area, installing hardwood flooring may prove to be a good investment and be a great selling point if you decide to sell.
  • Hardwoods are good for an active family because the floors can be refinished if they become damaged from daily usage. Refinishing hardwood flooring may be something to research when making a decision. Homeowners will want to know in advance what the service may cost down the road.
  • Laminate floors are less expensive, but give the same good looks to your room that a hardwood can.
  • If you have animals that shed, both laminates and hardwoods are much easier to care for than carpeting and as long as you don’t pick an extremely dark color, may even hide a few stray hairs. Dark woods show every hair or dust particle.

Installation Concerns

  • Finishes for hardwoods come pre-finished or the flooring can be finished in your home. If you have it finished in your home, you may be able to see sanding marks or dust particles in the finished product. Also, you need to be able to live with the mess during the process of finishing the hardwood.
  • Laminates are finished and usually can be installed in one to two days depending on the area to be covered.
  • If you select hardwood realize that when the carpeting is removed the sub-flooring could have issues such as warping which will have to be addressed. The installer should be able to explain different options to correct the problems.
  • Laminates come with pads and without pads. If you get one with a pad then there no underlayment required. Laminates with pads do not require an underlayment. Many installers feel that the laminate with the pad is superior.

  • Laminates come in several different thicknesses. There are a lot of 8 mm laminates, but most installers will recommend the 10 mm and 12 mm sizes. The thicker the laminate the higher the quality. The laminates with pad attached can help with noise reduction.
  • Hardwoods that are finished in your home can be customized and give uniqueness to your room.
  • Laminates have a variety of finishes in a variety of wood tones, and can be installed veritically, horizontally, or if the installer is experienced the laminate can be installed on an angle.


  • Hardwood flooring is nailed directly into the sub-flooring.
  • Laminates have tongue-and- groove application which even a do-it-yourself expert can manage with a couple of specialty tools that can be purchased or rented. Molding holds the flooring in place from the perimeter of each room, so if you currently don’t have molding it will have to be installed.

Additional Considerations

If you have had an animal that has left odors in the carpeting and moisture has leeched through to the subfloor, the boards will need to be replaced. The pet can sense odors left and a floor that is left wet may eventually warp.

Both types of floors need to be cleaned regularly. A solution of vinegar and water can be used on laminates. If the wrong products are used on these floors removing the build-up of products can be time consuming and/or expensive.

Hardwood floors can be cleaned with great products made especially for that purpose and are available at the big box stores. Sunlight can change the shade of your hardwood over time. You will want to move furniture often, and use window treatments to keep direct sunlight off the floor as much as possible. Regular annual cleaning by a professional may be desired by the homeowner.

The installers of both types of wood will tell the homeowner what is included in the labor cost. Delivery of the product is an additional fee. Removal or movement of furniture may be an additional cost, and even with the additional cost there are some items they may not move such as large screen TV’s. Some people would prefer to move their furniture themselves.

  • Wood flooring is cut from the timber according to the grain of the wood. If it is pre-finished the wood is UV dried. This process will insure a lasting finish.
  • Laminate consists of four layers: the back layer, the core layer, the decorative layer, and the wear layer.
  • Wear on the floor at entry ways can be reduced with area or throw rugs.
  • For care consult your dealer for warranties and care suggestions.

Engineered Flooring

Engineered Flooring is made with real wood and plywood. It is very durable, and has a price point that is between laminates and hardwoods. This type of flooring is resistant to moisture and can be glued to concrete, if your house is on a slab. It can also be nailed directly on to a plywood subfloor.

Which flooring do you prefer?

If you changed flooring, what would you choose?

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    • profile image

      Ky Cardinal 4 years ago

      Thanks. I do like hardwoods too, but laminates have a place in the discussion. I know when I was looking around the big box stores the sales associates didn't explain some of the info I learned about when I did my own research. I am always glad to have comments.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Very thorough discussion of the differences between the two which should be helpful in helping people select the right floor covering for them. I personally prefer hardwood, but I can see that laminate would be beneficial in some situations.