Hardwood vs Laminate…which flooring to choose

Remember the big flood we had?  Well we are mostly all put back together.

The biggest part of the rebuild was the flooring.  We had 2500 sq ft of flooring to replace.  That was all of the main level minus the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.  And all of the top level minus 3 bedrooms.

We chose a great flooring option and I completely love it!!

hardwood or laminate

This is called Blackened Maple and it is available at Home Depot.  Choosing which type of flooring was a difficult decision.  Here are a few things I learned that may help you in your decision.

Hardwood vs Laminate {which is better for your home}

Look–The look of flooring is a big factor in your decision.  Laminate flooring has come a long way and you can find products that look just like hardwood flooring.  You can also find products that don’t look so good.  Trust me, I looked at A LOT of flooring.  There are good and bad looking products in all types of flooring.  When you go looking, keep your eyes open.  Go in with an open mind and look for what you like before you look at which product it is.  In general laminates that come in long planks look more like real hardwood.  Pass by products that are discolored or have lots of thin planks on one strip.  laminate

See how this laminate looks like lots of little planks were printed onto a big plank? laminate flooring

 Whereas this laminate flooring looks like individual flooring planks.

It’s a personal style opinion but the individual planks definitely look more like real wood.With wood flooring you still have to look for a style you want and keep an eye out for bad looking flooring.  But generally wood flooring looks like real wood and you don’t have to look as hard.  Especially since laminate flooring is trying to simulate the look this flooring already has.You can get both laminate and hard wood flooring in a variety of finishes and even textures.  You can find different colors and glazes on flooring.  Mine has a blackened finish to it.  You can also find hand scraped and other textures in both products.

Durability–Laminate flooring is much more durable than hardwood.  It has a hard resin layer on top.  As such it is very resistant to scratches, wear, dents etc.

Hardwood is wood.  It can be easily scratched and dented.  The advantage here is hardwood can usually be sanded down and refinished.

Price–Laminate flooring is much cheaper than hardwood.  The ranges we saw as we were shopping went from about $.60 to $3.50 per sq foot.

It was hard to find a hard wood floor starting under $5 per sq foot.  As you can see that is quite a difference.

Installation–Laminate flooring is easier to install.  You can install it as a floating floor.  Meaning there is no need to nail or glue it down.  All the laminate flooring we saw had a tongue and groove system.  It is a bit of a click in place install {although it is not quite as easy as that.  Check back here for a flooring installation tutorial}

 Stairs–If you are planning on doing stairs, there are some definite considerations.  The flooring you pick and even the brand of flooring make a huge difference when doing stairs.  I will go over more of this when I post my tutorial for how we did our stairs.  If you have questions before then, leave me a comment.

 Based on all those pros and cons, can you tell which flooring option we went with?

 Can you tell from the picture?

hardwood or laminate

The good news is that if you pick the right product, people won’t be able to tell.  So you can choose the flooring that makes sense for your home.

 We went with laminate.  For the reasons listed above.  It is more durable, affordable and easier to install.  Considering we have a lot of people in and out of our home durability was a huge factor.

Affordability was also important.  When you are talking about 2500 sq feet of flooring, going up $1 per sq foot is $2500.  Going up $2 per sq foot is $5000 and $3 per sq foot is $7500.  You can see how it could easily double or triple the price.  Especially when working with a large area.

 Ease of installation was crucial to us.  My girls and I put in 90% of the flooring in my home.  My 8 and 10 year old girls hammered in probably 25% of the planks themselves.  They were huge helps and I was so proud of them for working hard without complaining.hardwood vs laminate flooring

I hope this post helps you when picking out your flooring.  If you have any additional questions, leave me a comment or contact me using the link above this post.

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  1. Thanks for the thoughts, I’m currently debating re-finishing vs laminate so I was glad to hear your perspective on saminate. Have a great day! (Found you on the Saturday linky)

  2. Great info! I love how your floors turned out! Beautiful!

  3. Your floors turned out gorgeous! That’s the look we want in our house eventually too :o)
    Meredith @ Wait Til Your Father Gets Home recently posted..{Metallic Refrigerator Magnets}My Profile

  4. Wow! Your new floor looks GREAT! I enjoyed reading your decision process because we need to rip out our ratty, stained carpet in our town home and install wood/laminate flooring. This was an extremely helpful post! (Laminate click wood seems a good option for us! Love that you can install most of it yourself!)

  5. My hubby and I were just discussing this. We have hardwood floors under the carpet. We had decided to purchase laminate vs. refinishing the hardwoods for most of the reasons you mentioned. Mostly the durability. Very imformative post (and great to see that it was not too difficult to install). Lovin the floors you choose!
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  6. Those are nice looking laminate floors! I am searching for my home, I am leaning towards the tiled planks that look like hardwood.
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  7. I’m feeling happy to reach your blog and it’s really looking nice with these photos. And you discussed about the importance of Hardwood flooring and Laminate flooring. Thanks for sharing this info, keep up blogging.

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