Wooden floors are often viewed as rich, elegant, and tastefully vintage. Ergo, they’re the perfect addition to any home. However, they are quite costly. As a result, most homeowners use laminate flooring instead as it can easily replicate the look and texture of rich, hardwood floors for a fraction of the price. But is that truly the best option? We decided to pit laminate flooring vs hardwood using five specific factors that most homeowners look for in their floors. Those factors are:

  • Cost—how expensive is it?
  • Installation—is installation easy or inexpensive?
  • Maintenance—is it easy to clean and maintain?
  • Repair—can it easily be repaired? Is the typical repair job costly?
  • Durability—how long can the floors last?

COSTS: Laminate Flooring

This round has to go to laminate flooring. It’s a relatively inexpensive type of flooring that doesn’t look cheap or shoddy at all. Laminate flooring is made from several layers of wood pressed together and then simply overlaid with the image of hardwood. You get the same beautiful wooden appearance for a much lower price.

Since it’s made from harvested trees, real hardwood flooring is undoubtedly expensive. The more exotic the trees, the higher the price. They’re unquestionably gorgeous, but if you’re under a budget they might not be the best option.

INSTALLATION: Laminate Flooring

Another interesting thing about laminate flooring is that the pieces in a set are specially designed to align and snap together easily. Once the floorboards “click” together, they’re locked in and very stable. No glue or special tools are needed. The installation process is so simple, some experienced homeowners can even do it themselves. It also costs much less to install than hardwood flooring—about 50% less, in most cases.

Hardwood flooring can only be installed by a professional, and can only be done using the right tools.

MAINTENANCE: Laminate Flooring & Hardwood Flooring

laminate flooring vs hardwoodBoth types of flooring are quite easy to maintain and clean. Depending on the design or finish, a good sweep and scrub once or twice every week should be more than enough to keep the floors presentable. You can wipe them down every day if you really want them to shine.

Both floors do fine with soft wash clothes and any commercial broom or vacuum. You won’t need any specialized materials or solutions for maintenance.

REPAIR: Hardwood Flooring

When it comes to repairing laminate flooring vs hardwood, hardwood is much easier to repair. Imperfections can be sanded away and the boards easily refinished. Hardwood is also quite durable, and can therefore go years without needing expensive repairs.

Laminate flooring, on the other hand, can be quite difficult to repair due to the number of layers a board is made up of and the laminate itself. Repair can be as easy as switching out damaged pieces for new ones and snapping them into place, but sunlight and age are factors that can cause discoloration or darkening, which means the new piece might not match up perfectly.

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DURABILITY: Hardwood Flooring

Although both types of flooring can last a very, very long time—especially with regular maintenance—hardwood flooring lasts longer and doesn’t break as easy. Laminate floors can last as much as 30 years max, although a more realistic estimate would be 10 to 20. On the other hand, hardwood floors can last anywhere between 50 to 100 years—in other words, a lifetime.

So in the argument of laminate flooring vs hardwood, there really isn’t a clear winner. Although some argue that laminate flooring is the best choice because it’s inexpensive, sturdy, and easy to maintain, others can argue that hardwood floor is a better investment—and may cost less over time. If you have to pick one, choose the floor that better suits your immediate needs, budget, and resources.