Real Wood vs Laminate Floors

Contrary to popular opinion, Laminate Floors can look fabulous

One of the most popular questions that flooring retailers are usually asked is “should I buy laminate or real wood?”. With both materials being extremely popular in homes throughout the world it can often be a difficult one to answer. Nine times out of ten the answer lies within what type of life you lead and the home you run, but there are a few points that can help you to determine which would be the best choice for you. Let us take a further look at each of the materials and the pros and cons that come with them.

Laminate Flooring

There is a multitude of reasons as to why laminate floors are so popular, not only in the UK but around the world. Not only do they replicate real wood floors, they’re also half of the price of them too. Laminate floors are also renowned for being really easy to install, with most of them offering a click and lock method – easy to do even if you’re not a DIY expert! Laminate flooring is a great choice for a family home, not only because it’s extremely hard-wearing, but due to the fact that it’s really easy to clean too. The reason that laminate is so easy to clean is due to the way that it is constructed and consists of something called a ‘wear layer’ that covers the surface of the floor. However, laminate isn’t always the best option and many people aren’t always on board with it. One of the biggest responses when laminate is suggested is that it is ‘cheap’, this is probably because laminate flooring is a synthetic product (manmade) that is mass-produced which does cut the cost. Although this doesn’t always mean that the material itself is cheap, as with real wood floors there are many grades of laminate available and it is a matter of how much you’re willing to pay. Even though laminate is manufactured to replicate real wood flooring there are many people who will argue that it’s very easy to see the difference and that it does not offer the same natural beauty of a wood floor, this is down to personal preference though. Unlike wood flooring, laminate floors are incapable of being refinished so if they do become damaged then they will need to be replaced eventually.

Hardwood Floors

Whether they’re solid or engineered, wood floors are the real deal and make for a breathtaking feature in any room. Each piece of real wood flooring offers a unique appearance and with so many grades available you’re certainly spoilt for choice. Aside of their natural beauty these floors are certainly built to last, with many of them outliving the homes that they are installed in. But “how?!” I hear you ask – well, simple really; real wood can be sanded and refinished multiple times. What this means for the floor is that if any damage or wear and tear does occur then it can be repaired as opposed to needing to replace the entire floor. Of course everything has its flaws and this is no exception with wood flooring. When you install this type of floor in your home there are a few restrictions, the first one being that it is not advised to install the floor in areas where there may be high moisture and frequent temperature changes. The reason for this is because the wood can become damaged due to the climate changes and can contract and expand when water is involved. The second restriction of wood flooring is that it cannot be paired with underfloor heating (this only applies to solid wood, engineered is okay to use). Again this relates back to the wood warping and expanding due to the shift in temperature.

Wood vs Laminate

So, now that the pros and cons have been discussed, lets compare the properties of each material:

Wood

Laminate

Construction

Depending on the type of wood floor the construction differs. Solid wood is made from one piece of solid timber whereas engineered wood floors are made of layers. These layers consist of man made wood and are then topped with a solid wood layer to finish.

Laminate is a synthetic product, it is made up of layers with each layer being constructed of different fibres. Laminate gets its wood appearance from an image that is placed on top the board and then sealed with a clear protective layer.

Installation

Wood flooring can be difficult to install if you’re not an expert. There are many methods available such as tongue and groove, nailing/gluing down and many more. It is recommended that if you’re unsure how to install wood flooring that you hire a labourer to do the job for you.

Known as one of the easiest floors to install, laminate uses a click and join method which means that no glue or nails are needed. This installation method is suitable for even the most amateur DIY goer.

Cost

It’s no secret that wood flooring can come with quite the price tag but it is a floor that’s guaranteed to last and you can’t really put a price on that can you? The price also differs between solid and engineered wood floors with engineered tending to be the cheaper option.

As mentioned earlier, laminate is often seen as a cheap flooring alternative, but there are many grades available and though it is cheaper than most floors on the market there are premium grades out there. Laminate is ideal if you are working on a budget.

Durability

Often described as “guaranteed to last a lifetime” you can’t really go wrong with wood floors when it comes to durability. The only thing that would pose a problem is if your home was damaged by flooding, sunlight and UV rays can also cause wood flooring to fade too.

Most laminate floors come with a 10/15 year warranty, this is the most likely lifespan of a laminate floor but there are also many household objects that can damage and shorten the lifespan of the floor.

Refinishing

One of the biggest contributing factors to wood floorings long lifespan is the fact that it can be sanded and refinished multiple times. This can keep the floor looking as fresh as the day that it was installed for years to come!

Laminate flooring cannot be sanded or refinished. Unfortunately when it becomes damaged the only option is to replace either the single planks or even worse; the entire floor.

Underfloor Heating

It is not recommended to install solid wood floors over underfloor heating, the temperature can cause the wood to warp in shape. Engineered wood is better suited to underfloor heating but it’s important to check with the manufacturer to see if the floor is compatible.

Laminate can be used with underfloor heating but it is always recommended that you check with the manufacturer before doing so.

Pet Friendly

Wood can be scratched by claws, but many see this as being a distinguished and homely feature. It is important to keep your pets claws trimmed where you can but it shouldn’t be too much of a worry as wood floors can be sanded and refinished to repair any damage.

Often seen as one of the most pet-friendly floors on the market, this is mostly due to the wear layer on top of the wood that helps to prevent the scratches from getting through to the board.

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