Laminate vs Hardwood

Laminate vs Hardwood Flooring: The Pros and Cons of Each

Are you confused by the varieties of flooring available?

Flooring is a driving factor in the value of a home and, let's face it, you'll be walking on it for a long time to come. One of the most common questions is this: how do things look when you compare laminate vs. hardwood flooring?
If you're in the analysis stage of your next home renovation you're in the right place. Just read on and we'll help you compare them side-by-side.

How Are Laminate and Hardwood Floors Different?

The differences between laminate and hardwood flooring may not be apparent at first glance. Hardwood flooring is exactly what it says on the label: planks of solid wood that are grooved so that they can be laid together.

The construction of laminate flooring is a bit more complicated. Laminate flooring consists of a core of particleboard. Afterward, a photo-realistic layer is applied over the surface of the board, creating the "laminate" which causes it to look like real wood.The final part of the process lays down a wear layer which consists of a thin layer of durable plastic. This plastic leaves the boards waterproof and keeps the photo-layer from fading or taking serious wear under normal use.

Laminate vs. Hardwood Flooring Side-by-Side

Both materials are used extensively in homes these days. High-end laminates are even used as a premium flooring type in expensive homes instead of just being considered a cheaper alternative to hardwood.
They have many different properties in the end, despite the visual similarities.


As a general rule, laminate flooring will always win in the cost department. Since it's made primarily of wood scraps and a plastic coating there's no way for hardwood flooring to be cheaper. That's not to say that all laminate flooring is cheap. On the contrary: high-end laminate flooring isn't a way to go super cheap on laying a floor. If you're looking for the cheapest possible option you may wish to look into vinyl instead.


The durability of laminate flooring is much higher than it was in the past but the floors won't last nearly as long as natural hardwood. There's a good reason for that: hardwood floors can be refinished multiple times before requiring replacement. Most scratches and gouges from normal wear can be sanded out and finish coats can be reapplied.

Laminate flooring can't be refinished. Any attempts to sand things down will just result in the destruction of the wear layer and permanent damage to the photographic layer underneath. On average a laminate floor will last ten years or so under normal use. Hardwood, on the other hand, will generally last for the rest of your life. Neither does all that well during flooding, but laminate flooring generally handles day-to-day spills or pet accidents much better than hardwood.

Ease of Installation

Laminate flooring wins out on this one. Laminate flooring is almost always "floated." All you need to do is measure out the flooring itself and then click the pieces together using the tongue-and-groove settings. It's not a complicated task although professional installation is still recommended. Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, requires some specialized tools and construction of an adequate subfloor. For the average person, professional installation is the only way to get hardwood laid down without risking the destruction of expensive materials.

Visual Appeal

Laminate flooring is available in a wider range of colors and grains than hardwood on average. You can even find laminates that mimic stone if that's what you want to do. However, when it comes to a classic look it's not going to beat the real thing. The visual appearance of laminate flooring comes from photographs... hardwood is real wood. When you're comparing them side-by-side you can see the difference. From a distance, both look similar but up close hardwood wins out every time.

Home Resale Value

Laminate flooring generally won't add much to the value of your home. If you're looking to sell in the future then it's not going to add to your investment in most cases. High-end, well-maintained laminates can add a modest amount to the value of your home, however. Well-maintained hardwood floors, on the other hand, add quite a bit to the value of a home. If you're trying to flip a house, for instance, hardwood is the way to go as the added value is much higher than laminate.

Which Flooring Type is Best for Me?

For the average homeowner, the cheaper price of laminate often wins out. They're durable enough for most homes, easier to install, and generally better at handling day-to-day spills and problems. If you have pets, children, or just aren't all that careful in the first place then laminate flooring is the way to go. Hardwood, on the other hand, comes with a higher budget but will last for a lifetime. Consider it an investment in your home even if you're not planning on selling in the future.

As a general rule hardwood will last much longer unless the home ends up flooded. It can be refinished multiple times and it's likely you'll never have to install another floor in the home. In the end, however, the choice is always up to you!

Ready to Shop for a New Floor?

If you're ready to start diving in and finding the right floor for your home then you'll need to know what you want. Comparing laminate vs. hardwood flooring is only the first step, there's much more here than meets the eye. So, are you ready to dive in and figure out the next step? If so, check out the various types of flooring in our shop and get ready to be amazed.