Hardwood Vs. Laminate Flooring: The Pros & Cons

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So, you’re ready to ditch the carpeting but you don’t know which alternative flooring is right for you. Most consumers narrow their choices down to hardwood and laminate. There are drawbacks and benefits to each, but selecting the right fit for your home can be headache inducing. Keep your cool with these pros and cons to picking the perfect flooring for your home.

The Benefits Of Hardwood

There are dozens of reasons to choose wood flooring in your home, including:

  • Maintenance
  • Environmental friendliness
  • Long-term cost
  • Style

Maintenance

If you’ve ever had to fight with clumsy vacuum bags or pay for expensive carpet cleaners, you understand the high-maintenance costs of carpeting. Cleaning your hardwood is literally as easy as 1,2,3. The three basic maintenance points for hardwood floors are:

  • Sweeping
  • Mopping
  • Polishing

Small cleanups—spills and drips—can be handled quickly with paper towels and wet antibacterial wipes. Keep these and a handheld sweeper and dustpan on hand, and you can keep your hardwood floor impeccably clean at all times.

Environmental Friendliness

These days, hardwood-flooring companies are making floor panels out of almost anything. Recycled lumber is the perfect medium for hardwood floors since it doesn’t collect dirt or allergens. There are several organizations and alliances working to keep hardwood flooring ecological, so check with your flooring company before your purchase.

Long-Term Cost

Ready for Planting Finished Product

Unlike carpet and tile flooring, which tend to tear, crumble, crack, and stain, hardwood floors maintain their value. Purchasing hardwood flooring for your home will cost less in overall maintenance and add to the resale value of your home.

Style

Hardwood flooring is a great addition to many interior design styles. Beach, cabin, classic, country, Cape Cod and modern homes can all look great with hardwood floors. In fact, it’s easy to manipulate the style of basic hardwoods when you consider all the different styles, including:

  • Strip
  • Plank
  • Parquet

Each of these has offers a unique approach to hardwood flooring that allows you to create a unique style in your home. If you want to add even more flair to your flooring, you can incorporate special design elements like:

  • Hand-distressing
  • Borders
  • Stains

For the most part, hardwood floors are a welcome alternative to traditional carpet flooring. However, there are some things to consider before you make a purchase.

The Drawbacks Of Hardwood

There are a few drawbacks to hardwood flooring that might turn prospective consumers away, including:

  • Short-term cost
  • Wear and tear

Short-Term Cost

The upfront cost of hardwood flooring can be quite disheartening for many consumers. For the most part, it costs more per square foot than carpeting. Installation can also tack on a pretty penny to the bill. However, as discussed in the previous section, the long-term financial benefits of hardwood flooring can outweigh the upfront capital.

Wear And Tear

If you have pets or small children, you may want to steer clear of hardwood flooring. Without the proper varnish, it can be easy to scratch. One way to prevent this is by adding large area rugs to high-traffic areas.

The Benefits Of Laminate

Laminate wood is made by pressing together layers of traditional wood at very high temperatures. It is an increasingly popular choice for individuals who aren’t looking to invest in expensive hardwood floors. There are benefits to opting with laminate over hardwood, including:

  • Affordability
  • Durability

Affordability

Since laminate isn’t made from full pieces of wood, the cost is much less than its hardwood counterpart. It can typically be purchased for a fraction of the cost of most hardwoods. Even laminate installation is less expensive and can easily be made into a DIY project.

Durability

Since it is made from compressed wood, laminate tends to be more resistant to wear and tear than traditional hardwood flooring. For this reason, it is a welcome alternative for households with small children and pets.

The Drawbacks Of Laminate

Since it isn’t the “real thing”, there are a few drawbacks when it comes to laminate flooring, including:

  • Long-term cost efficiency
  • Repair

Long-Term Cost Efficiency

If you’re going to cover your floors with laminate, you want to remember that these types of floors do little to increase the overall value of your home. In fact, if you do want to sell your home at market value, hardwood flooring is your best option.

Repair

Since laminate is sold in separate pieces, it can be harder to replace than traditional flooring. It can be hard to find a piece that matches the current style you have in your home. Your best bet, again, is to make sure you cover heavy-traffic areas with floor or area rugs.

Both hardwood and laminate flooring are stylish alternatives to traditional carpet flooring. However, if it’s within your budget, hardwood flooring is a better long-term choice for your home. For those quick fixes, laminate is the way to go.

Last Updated: December 19, 2011
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About Chanti Burnette Chanti was a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com.

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