One of the most important decisions a homeowner has to make is in regards to their choice of flooring. Whether you are remodeling your current house or designing the home of your dreams, the floors are a big part of the planning process. You have to take into consideration the look of the room, the feel of it under your feet and of course the cost.
Two of the most popular flooring options to consider are hardwood and laminate. Of course there is no clear cut winner in this ongoing debate. Some of it boils down to simple personal preference. But if you would like to think more about the pros and cons of each before making an informed decision, here is some of what you should be considering.
- Price - The reason this should be considered first and foremost is because cost could literally be the determining factor. You may love the look of hardwood but that doesn't mean it will work well with your budget. If you have never truly priced the real thing then this would be the smartest place to begin. Laminate can give you much of the richness and look but without as steep a price tag.
- Durability - The truth is that both options are quite durable. Laminate is not susceptible to scratches or wear like hardwood can, over time. But if cared for properly both flooring options can hold up and look great for years, if not decades, to come.
- Making Repairs - There is no easy way to fix laminate flooring. The type that is sold in pieces that are snapped together may be replaced. However, you then have to take into consideration the amount of natural wear, sunlight and other factors that could have altered the look making it possible to replace but not match the look. Wood floor can be sanded and refinished to take care of repairs and create a uniform look.
- Longevity - Hardwood floors cannot be beat or even matched when compared to the laminate alternative. On average, your true wood flooring can last a lifetime, roughly 40-80 years if not more. On the other hand, the lifespan of laminate flooring is nowhere near that with an expected maximum span of 20 years.
- Being "Green" - The answer is fairly obvious since true wood floors are 100% organic. Even engineered hardwoods are mostly organic. Laminate alternatives are bonded materials. As industry standards move towards more eco-friendly alternatives they are becoming greener but will never be as green as wood flooring.
Making the Final Decision
Aside from the pros and cons already considered you should also think about the final look you want to create. While laminate does not have the same classic look and warmth of real wood maybe that's not the style you are going for anyway. Laminate alternatives have a crisp, clean, modern and uniform look.
You may even be in a situation where you could incorporate both options into your home based on the room you are working with. Your kitchen is a great example of where you may want laminate over hardwood. Although either option would look stunning and be easy to clean then think about which one would hold up better to dings and scratches.
Rooms that are more likely to take wear and tear may be better suited for laminate while other rooms would be ideal for real wood. The master bedroom, a library or rooms where there are less likely to be pets and children playing all make great candidates for hardwood flooring. Although the real thing looks spectacular in a dining room, if you are going to use it a lot think about what the chairs may do to the flooring over time.
Also keep in mind your resale value. Obviously if you are planning to sell any time soon than wood floors are ideal for seeing more of a profit. This increases your property value much more than laminate flooring. Work with a professional remodeling contractor to better understand your options and make the right choice for your home building or renovation project.