Laminate vs. Hardwood Flooring

Laminate vs. Hardwood Flooring

It’s a question many homeowners find themselves struggling with– should we install laminate or hardwood? There is no cut-and-dry answer; evaluating laminate vs. hardwood requires each homeowner to assess their needs, their future plans, and their stylistic preferences. The following guide from Carolina Flooring Services compares the installation process, repair procedure, and durability of both to help you decide which of these excellent flooring options is best for you.

To begin, it is helpful to understand how hardwood and laminate differ. Traditional (non-engineered) hardwood floors are made of planks that are glued or nailed to a subfloor. In most modern homes, hardwood is finished using a water-based polyurethane, although older floors may have a wax, shellac or oil-based urethane finish. A laminate flooring plank is made of layers of synthetic fiberboard that is topped with the image of a wood floor and sealed with protective resins. They are typically installed as “floating” floors – that is, without being attached to the subfloor below.

Installation and Price:

Laminate floors are definitely less expensive than hardwood and are designed to be simply installed by the homeowners. Laminate planks typically have an interlocking tongue-and-groove system that allows them to be snapped together over a level subfloor without having to use glue or nails. Hardwood installation is more difficult and best left to professionals.


Both flooring types have the same basic routine maintenance. Floors should be swept daily to prevent particles from scratching the surface and cleaned with a damp mop on a weekly basis (ALWAYS use a damp, not wet, mop as excess water is damaging to both hardwood and laminate). Spills should be wiped up immediately, and in the event of minor scratches, fill-in kits are available for both flooring types. Hardwood floors will require the occasional deep clean using a manufacturer recommended cleaner and may eventually need to be refinished to restore their original shine.


Unlike hardwood, laminate cannot be sanded and stained to mask discoloration. Should a laminate plank become damaged, it must be removed and replaced – but there is no guarantee that the same pattern is still being produced, so it is important to purchase and save extra planks to make repairs as needed. Hardwood planks can be much more easily matched and replaced.


Although many homeowners are torn between laminate vs. hardwood, nearly everyone agrees that there is just no matching the natural beauty of hardwood. Laminate flooring tends to grow dull over time, and as it cannot be sanded and refinished like hardwood can, little can be done to fully restore its shine. The images used on laminate planks repeat, so laminate also lacks the natural variations and distinctions that give hardwood floors character.

Long Term Value:

Well kept hardwood floors definitely add more to the resale value of your home than laminate floors do, and may even help you sell your home more quickly. Laminate floors may need to be replaced after 10 – 15 years of use, whereas hardwood floors can last several decades!

There are many factors to consider when selecting your flooring type. The age and size of your family, whether or not you have pets, how long you plan on staying in the same location, and your budget all effect whether laminate vs. hardwood is the better option for your family. At Carolina Flooring Services, we are prepared to help you select and install the perfect floor. Contact us today!

Photo courtesy of:Deiby

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