Laminate flooring and hardwood flooring are two different types of flooring that can both be a positive choice for your home. They each have their own pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh the options before making a decision. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how you might decide between laminate or hardwood for your home.
Despite the similarities between laminate and hardwood, they differ in many ways. Hardwoods are often regarded as the premium quality option when it comes to flooring in your home. It is important to note though, that laminate flooring can provide a similar look for a much lower price – and that is not to be sneezed at.
- What is Laminate Flooring?
- Laminate Flooring: The Options
- You Get What You Pay For With Laminates
- Laminate Purchase Options
- Laminate Flooring Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Hardwood Flooring?
- Difference Between Solid Hardwood Flooring & Laminate Flooring?
- What Types of Floors Is Laminate Suitable For?
- What Types of Floors Is Hardwood Timber Suitable For
- Advantages of Laminate Wood Flooring
- Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring
- Advantages of Hardwood Flooring
- Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate floors are a man-made product that has been engineered to look like real wood. The laminate floor is a hybrid consisting of two parts.
Engineered laminate flooring is composed of a high-density fiberboard core and a décor paper that sits on top of this, protecting the paper from wear and tear. As an alternative to timber flooring, laminates offer a cost-effective alternative. As technology develops and more modern versions of the product evolve, significant improvements to the range of offerings are now available.
The laminate flooring can either be installed over existing floors as new-room installation or in place of old worn out plank flooring. Laminate installers will cut each piece to fit your room perfectly so you don’t have any gaps between the flooring pieces like what would happen if they were just laid side by side! This ensures nothing seeps through and onto your subfloor where it might cause damage later down the road.
Compared to timber flooring, laminate floors are cost-effective and offer the same natural look of timber.
You can get laminate flooring with various colours and grains. It will never fade and is very stain-resistant. It is also resistant to moisture, so it provides lots of choices as to where you use it in the house. Therefore, for families with children and pets, laminate flooring is the perfect option.
Laminate Flooring: The Options
The “click” laminate world is bursting with products that require no messy glues and are simple for DIYers to install.
In addition to being extremely hard and durable, HDF floors are also considerably more impact resistant than traditional wood floors.
In particular, with long, wide planks available from different retailers, the realistic decors and embossing sometimes make it difficult to distinguish between real timber and laminate.
It all comes down to the combination of style and option you want for your flooring project.
This creates a natural look for your living areas with traditional timber flooring appearance for that classic look.
You get the look that resembles a beautiful exotic wood, but with the advantage that spills and stains are no longer an issue due to the easy care of laminates.
If you want the vintage look, this is what to get. Laminate flooring can have the timeless appearance of reclaimed timber flooring without the problems associated with aging that comes with the real thing.
Hand-scraped floors add character and authenticity if that is the look you want.
High gloss is the finish on the surface. Due to its advanced nature, few manufacturers are able to produce these consistently so is only a realistic option for a higher end product. Liquid overlays or high gloss sheet overlays can be used to accomplish this. The high gloss is maintained in high-quality products by using a liquid overlay that is impregnated into the board, providing the high gloss of high quality that will withstand many years of use.
Embossed In Register (EIR)
An embossed timber grain creates a realistic look and finish by using expensive techniques to make the laminate look like timber.
In this process, the edges and sides of boards are beveled at a slight angle to create a “V” shape. The look of a real timber floor is further enhanced with this feature.
Abrasive Resistance (AC)
It measures a floor’s resistance to abrasion and determines whether it can withstand high traffic, such as retail, or is only suitable for residential purposes. Floors are generally AC3 or AC4, but high end floors suitable for commercial use are AC5.
You Get What You Pay For With Laminates
The quality of laminate is determined by the price. Cheaper laminates are available, but they are prone to humidity problems and excessive pattern repetition. In the end, it looks cheap, is not durable, and does not look real.
Laminate Purchase Options
In Australia, Bunnings has a reasonable range of laminate flooring. At present (mid-2021), the Hanwood brand makes up most of its current offerings. Until recently, they stocked the Endurofllor range of Probilt Laminate Flooring but now no longer stock it.
Also in Australia, Harvey Norman also stock laminate flooring with the brands of Airstep, Balterio, Dair Oak, Lamett and Nifti.
Laminate Flooring Frequently Asked Questions
What are the pros and cons of laminate flooring?
Pros – Since engineered wood is used to make laminate flooring, it is more durable and resistant to scratches, moisture and wear. It is easier to clean and maintain.
Cons – Laminate flooring is durable but does not always appeal to the eye as much as wood flooring. Lower-quality laminates may have a wood grain texture that looks artificial with an unnaturally repetitive pattern.
Can you mop laminate flooring?
Mop your laminate floors twice a month to keep them in good condition. With a damp microfiber mop, laminate floors can be easily cleaned. Be sure to wring out your regular mop until it is almost completely dry before using it on laminate flooring.
What is Hardwood Flooring?
Hardwood flooring is a type of wood floor traditionally made from the raw material oak, walnut, cherry and others in the USA and Canada, and from a range of eucalyptus species in Australia such as Jarrah, Blackbutt and Spotted Gum.
Today it can be manufactured in almost any color or design to suit your taste. Hardwoods are also durable so they won’t scratch as easily as most other types of finishes like laminate floors might do when you drag furniture across them.
The only real downside with hardwood is that because it’s natural fiber – meaning actual pieces of trees turned into boards – installation takes more time than what laminates would take when just laying it down flat on top of old worn out plank flooring. The plus side though is that these boards will last for decades if not centuries longer especially if you have high traffic areas where people would wear out laminate boards very quickly.
What Is The Janka Rating?
When it comes to solid timber flooring, the Janka rating is very important. It basically measures the hardness of a particular type of timber, and can be used to compare different types of wood.
The higher the number on this scale, the harder that material will be if you were to try and scratch it with your fingernail for example. A higher Janka Rating means less likely to scratch, stain or dent.
For example, the Janka Rating for oak is at 1290 which means it is a very hard wood that will be difficult to damage in any way. When looking at solid timber flooring choices like these, always go with the harder types of materials because they are more durable and last longer than softer woods.
Cedar, pine, and fir are the easiest trees to use to make solid wood flooring. Hardwood floors are made from slower-growing trees, which are denser and more durable and therefore have a higher Janka Rating. Regardless of your choice, one of the best things about solid hardwood is that it is always in style – it’s classy now and always will be.
Difference Between Solid Hardwood Flooring & Laminate Flooring?
Even though hardwood and laminate have many similarities, they have some key differences that make them unique flooring options.
Some of the key differences include price, durability, maintenance requirements, and whether or not it’s in style.
Generally, laminate floors are less expensive than hardwoods because they’re more affordable to produce but downside is that they don’t last as long.
People universally find the natural wood texture of solid hardwood attractive and beautiful. It is available in a wide range of types, stains, designs, and finishes, allowing for multiple installation possibilities. If you want that timeless look, hardwood is the flooring for you. At the end of the day, laminate floors are trying to get as close in appearance to the real thing – which is real hardwood floors.
While laminate has many benefits when it comes to maintenance, if appearance is your main priority, then hardwoods are the best choice because they’re simply more beautiful.
Some feel that although laminate floors come in a variety of textures, they all have an artificial look to them.
However, top quailty laminate (and therefore more expensive) can come close to mimicing the natural hardwood look and are a great alternative to hardwoods.
Ease of Installation
The installation of hardwood is a more labour-intensive process and requires the skills of an expert to complete it successfully.
Laminate wood floors are also very quick to put down. It takes about an hour for two people to lay a square meter of hardwood across a room while installing laminates only takes 20 minutes for a square metre.
The biggest difference in installation comes down to the underlayment – hardwoods need thick layers of padding underneath them, while laminates require just one layer. This means that installing laminate floors will be much cheaper than laying hardwood flooring because it requires less material and labor.
Including installation, hardwood costs in Australia range from $80 to $100 per square metre. Depending on the type of wood, solid hardwood is significantly more expensive than engineered hardwood. In addition to being a budget-friendly option, laminates can cost between $50 and $70 per square metre, including installation.
One of the most important factors when deciding on laminate and hardwood floors is durability. While your laminates will not last as long as your hardwoods, they are more affordable and easy to maintain.
Hardwood floors are not just beautiful, but they have a lifetime value. In spite of all the challenges time can present, they remain remarkably durable. Hardwood floors require periodic recoating and refinishing in order to prolong their lifespan. Ten years is the maximum durability of laminate floors. In comparison to hardwoods, they don’t require much maintenance and once they’re ruined, they need to be replaced completely. This means that, in a decade or so, you’ll need to spend at least $5000 for a new floor.
It’s important to note that laminate floors require less maintenance because they don’t need staining and only have a top coat for protection against scratches and stains, but over time the finish may peel off or scratch.
Laminated floors are a good option for those who do not want to make the investment of time and money into maintaining wood floors over their lifetime.
Maintenance for laminate flooring usually includes cleaning spills right away to keep them from soaking in; sweeping/vacuuming the floor to keep it clean and free of dust; and waxing the floor every few months in order to protect against scratches.
Hardwood floors require periodic recoating/refinishing, depending on the type of wood you have (different types of hardwoods will last longer than others), but this helps maintain a shiny new look for your floor. These floors can also be waxed to protect against scratches.
Hardwood flooring maintenance includes sweeping/vacuuming the surface regularly; moping with water-based cleaners every once in a while (to remove any dirt and grime); and polishing the wood when necessary, usually about twice per year.
What Types of Floors Is Laminate Suitable For?
Laminate can be installed almost anywhere in the house, although experts recommend avoiding its installation in areas prone to moisture and humidity, such as saunas, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. The laminate is extremely durable, making it suitable for pet owners and families. No underlay is necessary to install laminate floors in basements, living rooms, kitchens, even on stairs.
What Types of Floors Is Hardwood Timber Suitable For
Hardwood flooring is recommended for bedrooms and dining rooms as a wood flooring solution. It is also a great option for hallways, living rooms and kitchens.
Flooring experts recommend avoiding installation of hardwood in areas prone to moisture and humidity, such as saunas, laundry rooms, and bathrooms.
Hardwoods are more susceptible to scratches over time if installed in busy living spaces. However they will develop a warm patina that adds character with age.
Also, hardwoods can fade their colour over time due to sunlight. The product is not recommended for use on surfaces directly exposed to the sun or next to large glass windows or doors.
Advantages of Laminate Wood Flooring
Laminate wood flooring is durable and water resistant, making it a great choice for kitchens or bathrooms. Laminate floors are also easy to maintain with their easy-to-clean finish. They are recommended by the National Wood Floor Association as an ideal option for busy living spaces like hallways, bedrooms and dining rooms where traffic may be high due to use of these areas in different times of day.
Laminate floors made of wood are available at low and affordable price points. The costs of installation are reduced due to the ease of installation.
Laminate installation is generally a DIY task, which will require the use of some household tools and basic skills.
Laminate Wood Flooring is a great choice for those looking to avoid the hassle of sanding, staining and finishing wood.
Laminate flooring is very affordable, non-toxic (no VOCs), easy to maintain, resistant against wear-and-tear due to repeated abuse from heavy traffic patterns throughout your home. For this reason laminate floors are a perfect choice for high traffic areas such as near doorways where footfall will accumulate over time.
The high heat resistance of laminate makes it suitable for use over radiant heating systems and in high-moisture areas.
Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring
Even though laminate flooring looks like wood, it actually isn’t real wood. If you decide to sell the house, this could reduce its resale value when compared to real wood flooring.
Laminate flooring is water-resistant, but not waterproof, which can be a big drawback if water leaks beneath its surface.
Despite its high water-resistance, laminate can be seriously damaged and ruined if water gets trapped between the planks.
Noise is another disadvantage. If laminate flooring is installed without an underlayment, it may sound hollow when you walk on it or when furniture is moved across it.
Advantages of Hardwood Flooring
Its aesthetic appeal, beauty, and gorgeous appearance are hardwood flooring’s greatest advantages. Over a period of 20 years, hardwood floors do not need to be replaced. Hardwood floors increase the value of a house compared to laminate flooring. Increasingly popular, hardwood is seen as the healthiest option since it is made of natural organic materials.
Also, its resistance to stains, scratches and water is quite high. As long as hardwood flooring has a coat of sealant on it, it will do well against spills or from household accidents with little to no damage.
Hardwood floors also perform better in terms of sound absorption than laminate does since they are not hollow like the latter one. Most people find that hardwood floors are more comfortable when walking barefoot because there’s an even surface under your feet unlike laminate which can be rough at times.
Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood is expensive, prone to scratches, prone to water damage, and subject to termite attacks that reduce the durability and quality of the wood, so it’s important to think twice before choosing it for your project. Also, it needs to be sealed and sometimes resealed.
It’s also not the most forgiving flooring option for active families with small children or pets who like to play in their rooms, as it can scratch easily and dull quickly if left exposed.
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