Many home owners find themselves deciding between laminate and hardwood flooring. Let’s compare these two types of flooring in terms of material cost, installation labor cost, look & feel, and durability.
Handyman St Charles MO – Hardwood Flooring
Many home owners love the natural wood look of the hardwood flooring. With proper protection and maintenance, hardwood flooring can last for decades.
Costs: Flooring project costs have several components: initial material costs, installation labor costs, and maintenance costs (i.e. refinishing) over time.
Hardwood flooring is harvested from real trees, typically durable wood like oak, maple or hickory, with protective varnish coating applied on top. To get usable uniform planks, the costs can be high, especially for wider and thicker planks. This means hardwood flooring planks normally cost more than laminate flooring.
Exotic wood planks that are rare and imported can carry even higher price tags.
Underlayment is normally required for hardwood installation. New plank design may have padding built in for each plank. In high moisture areas, a moisture barrier is required to prevent the hardwood flooring from warping.
The costs of installation and refinishing of hardwood flooring are normally higher than laminate flooring.
Installation: Hardwood plank design has changed over the years. Traditionally the planks are nailed down plank by plank through the felt underlayment into the subfloor.
Over concrete floor, moisture barrier, and felt underlayment are installed first. Then the hardwood planks are be glued together and clamped tight to be secured section by section. It is labor intensive and time consuming.
Now the click-n-lock planks are available for hardwood flooring which make installation a lot easier and faster. However, moisture barrier is still required for hardwood over concrete surfaces, such as basements.
Hardwood flooring installation requires a lot of know-how and skills. It is normally not for a DIY project. Professional help is recommended for getting a good result.
Durability: Hardwood typically has only wood grain look, and the stain color can fade with long term sun exposure. Hardwood planks also shrink over time and opening up gaps between planks.
The hardwood planks with coating can be scratched and be damaged by water and pets. Once the top layer varnish is worn, the wood underneath is prone to more damage.
Refinishing the surface is recommended every 10 to 15 years with normal wear and tear. This maintenance cost is often overlooked by the home owners at the initial install.
Hardwood flooring can also be damaged by wood eating pests, such as termites.
The refinishing ability is not all bad news. It can be an upside to give old flooring a new look without major tear out and redo. The top layer of the worn down planks can be sanded down and re-stained to look brand new. This is valuable for revitalizing historical homes.
Laminate flooring is manufactured with composite fiberboard material backing with a laminate layer and coating on top.
Look & Feel: The look and texture of laminate can easily mimic, rival or surpass hardwood flooring these days. Laminate flooring can be made in to variety of width, thickness, color, texture and design.
The laminate layer can be printed and textured to look like natural wood, bamboo, tile, or slate/stone, while price remain affordable. This offers home owner much more design choices.
Durability: Laminate floor coating has been engineered to be highly resistant to stain, scratch, impact, moisture and pet damage. For pet owners and family with small children, it is a good flooring option from durability perspective.
Laminate flooring does not have real wood and the coating can only be applied in the factory setting, thus refinishing is not an option. However, it really does not need refinishing at all. It also does not invite wood eating pests.
Laminate coating require nearly no maintenance over time other than gentle cleaning. Most reputable brands carries 25 year to lifetime warranty over normal wear and tear.
Costs: Laminate flooring is normally more affordable than hardwood. Laminate is produced from composite wood or recycle material, which is compressed at high temperatures into planks.
Design is printed on the laminated layer and special protective coating is applied on top. Most of the brands has underlayment foam padding built in for each plank.
Laminate flooring can be directly installed over wood subfloor or concrete floor. Moisture barrier is not required. Fewer steps to go through means faster installation and lower install labor costs. Laminate flooring installation is easy enough for most home owners to attempt as a DIY project. This can offer further savings on labor cost.
Floating laminate flooring can also be removed and reused, which offers extra savings for home owners.
Installation: Laminate flooring used to be glued down. The newer design now is click-n-lock floating floor planks. The planks snaps onto each other and the entire flooring “floats” over the subfloor or concrete floor.
Since planks are not glued down or nailed down, it is easier for removal and reuse of existing planks later on.
When it comes to making the final decision regarding which flooring to install, it all depends on your personal preference and budget.
Whether you choose hardwood or laminate flooring, it is a good idea to avoid low quality products.
The poorly made products can cause problems for installation and can increase repair or replacement costs.
Some of the low quality flooring planks can warp and buckle on the edges soon after installation, or the planks can
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