Thursday, December 27, 2007

Flooring - Laminate or Hardwood

It's no wonder that floors are right up there in the top ten when homeowners are ready for a bit of a remodel on the old homestead. Not surprisingly, one question I often get from my DIY readers at Suite101 is, "Which is a better way to go, traditional hardwood flooring or laminate flooring?"

Well, in a nutshell the answer is, "It depends". Not trying to be vague here, but it depends on a number of factors. Both hardwood floors and laminate floors have their pros and cons. Let's look at a few of them...

Hardwood Flooring, Pros
  • Installing hardwood flooring. Installing tongue and groove planks is a bit easier than laminate because because you only have to deal with mating up on the long side.
  • Maintenance. Unlike laminate planks, you can wet-mop properly-sealed hardwood to your heart's content.

Hardwood Flooring, Cons
  • Finishing hardwood flooring. Unless you go with the more costly prefinished planks, you will have to sand, perhaps stain, and apply a finish. This significantly adds to the cost and labor. If you're looking for a weekend DIY project, you'll be disappointed.
  • Cost. Prepare to pay more for material. This wood is the real thing.
  • Maintenance. Caring for hardwood floors is straightforward. Although not mandatory, hardwood looks better with a periodic waxing.

Laminate Flooring, Pros
  • Installing laminate flooring. On the bright side, laminate weighs next to nothing. Moving it around will not leave you sore the next day.
  • Maintaining laminate flooring. The prefinished laminate planks are very tough and scratch resistant. As a matter of fact, it's not recommended to wax them.
  • Cost. Laminate is cheaper than hardwood. It's cheaper to produce and since competition is fierce, there's always a sale somewhere.

Laminate Flooring, Cons
  • Installing laminate flooring. As I found out, installation is a bit trickier than the instructions let on. Especially when trying to snap long runs into place. It had me talking dirty on more than one occasion. Two person installation and laminate installation tips are recommended.
  • Maintenance. Since the mating joints aren't sealed, you should never wet-mop laminate or use cleaners of any kind. You can only damp-mop it. And never spill liquids on it. Not recommended for a bathroom or kitchen.

As you can see, the choice boils down to preference and how the floor will be used. Choose wisely, new flooring is an investment.

1 comment:

Improvedliving said...

I also need to take care of my floor.

Laminate Flooring