Wood-look kitchen flooring in an American home

Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring: Which Is Best for Your Home?

Choosing between hardwood vs laminate flooring can be a tough decision.

Often, hardwood flooring is a high-end option while laminate flooring is the lower-end option. Though laminate shouldn't be completely discounted, is it worth it to splurge on real hardwood flooring?

Well, that decision is ultimately yours to make, but there are still things to take into consideration.

Read on to learn all about the key differences between hardwood and laminate flooring and which would be best for your home.

What Makes Them Different?

So, what makes these two flooring types different? Well, a few things actually!


The biggest difference between hardwood and laminate flooring is the materials used to create them.

Laminate flooring is simply a piece of thin fiberboard with a wood or stone image printed on it, while hardwood flooring is made of 3/4 inch wooden boards cut from a tree.

Installation Method

Laminate is easy to install on your own, which is great if you're going for a DIY approach. Hardwood flooring is best left to the professionals, though.

Price Point and Value

Of course, hardwood is going to be more expensive than laminate flooring, but there are things you can do with hardwood flooring that you can't do with laminate.

Laminate is cheap and easy to not only install but also remove and replace whenever you'd like. It takes a few tools but can be done by one person.

Hardwood flooring, however, never has to be removed to change. The flooring itself can be sanded down and refinished as many times as you'd like.

Also, hardwood floors can last a lifetime, while laminate lasts for up to ten years.

Why Choose Laminate?

Overall, laminate flooring is constructed of four layers of fused-together materials. These include:

A melamine layerA high-resolution photo of the surface it's mimickingA dense core boardA melamine backing layerThe material itself is durable and stain-resistant. It also isn't likely to fade or harbor moisture, mold, mildew, or allergens. If you're in the market for a budget-friendly or temporary flooring option, then laminate is the way to go.

Laminate isn't meant for bathrooms, but it can be installed in semi-wet areas like your kitchen. It's also heat-resistant, making it great for places over radiant heating systems.

The appearance of these floors can also be close to spot-on when it comes to mimicking hardwood. Newer, top-quality laminate flooring options have a random repeat pattern that can help to integrate a surface grain texture, making the flooring appear more realistic.

Laminate is also a comfortable non-padded flooring option, meaning it's great if you have pets that like sleeping on the floor. It's also fairly water-resistant, making it a great option for households with children.

As we discussed earlier, it's also easy to install and remove on your own.

Why Choose Wood?

Hardwood flooring is arguably more environmentally friendly than laminate flooring. While trees get cut down to create the material, it's natural, biodegradable, and trees are easy to plant again.

This type of flooring is more expensive than laminate, but it's also going to last longer.

Not only that, but you're not getting a reprinted version of hardwood flooring here. You're getting the real thing.

Hardwood flooring isn't good for wet areas or areas over radiant heating systems.

It is, however, another comfortable non-padded option. However, if you choose a darker finish, it's going to be more prone to visible scratch marks, which are easy to accumulate if you have young children and pets.

It's best to have a professional install and refinish hardwood flooring.

Cleaning and Care

The cleaning and care for both these options are going to vary. There are things you can expect for both flooring options.


Cleaning a laminate floor is easy and quick to do.

Use a vacuum or broom to get loose crumbs and debris up, then follow up with a damp mop moistened with a laminate floor cleaner. Waxing or steam cleaning isn't ever necessary, and excessive amounts of water are best to avoid.

Unlike hardwood flooring, if something happens to a laminate floor, it can't be refinished. The only option here is a complete replacement.


Cleaning a hardwood floor is similar to cleaning laminate.

Sweep or vacuum up crumbs and other debris and follow up with a damp mop moistened with a wood cleaner. Recently-made hardwood flooring is coated with a polyurethane varnish, so polishing or waxing isn't necessary for newer hardwood floors.

Periodic resealing, recoating, or refinishing may be necessary for hardwood floors. Be aware that most hardwood floors can only be sanded and refinished around 3-4 times since the planks are only so thick. After that, you're going to need to invest in new flooring.

Hardwood vs Laminate: The Choice Is Yours

Ultimately, the decision between hardwood vs laminate flooring is yours to make. If you still can't decide, create a list of all the pros and cons we've just talked about, go through, and base each on your current living situation.

Do you have children or pets? Are you prone to spilling drinks and other things? Are there certain places you don't allow food and drinks in your house?

These answers are all things to consider when making a final decision.

No matter your choice, National Floors Direct can help. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home estimate.