There are several things to consider when deciding between laminate flooring, which looks similar to a wood floor, or to go with real hardwood flooring.
One thing to consider is where the floor will be in your home. For example, if the floor is going down over concrete in a play room, you might want to install a laminate floor because of the difficulty of installing hardwood over concrete. However, if the floor is going to be installed in a more formal living area, you may prefer the look of hardwood.
Another consideration is appearance. While laminate floors can be really good looking, there is still a visible difference between laminate and real hardwood floors. Some people may not be able to see the difference, but hardwood floors are generally considered superior in appearance. However, as time goes by, homeowners will notice that hardwood floors are susceptible to staining; laminate flooring will not stain. Laminate floors offer excellent scratch resistance, while scratch resistance on hardwood floors totally depends on the hardness of the floor’s finish.
Hardwood floors damaged from scratches and stains are relatively easy to repair. Usually, sanding the damaged area and applying a fresh coat of stain and seal will do the job. If the damage is really severe, it is not too difficult to replace some of the boards. Laminate flooring cannot be repaired, so replacement of the damaged area is the only option. Because companies change styles frequently, the floor’s original style of laminate may not be available, and the damaged area will either have to remain an eyesore or the entire floor will have to be replaced.
Hardwood floors can last a lifetime, but will need to be refinished from time to time. This is a job that is messy, takes a few days to complete, and should probably be done by a professional. It is also possible to just refinish sections without having to do the entire floor. The life expectancy of a laminate floor is twenty years, and it cannot be refinished; so the floor will simply have to be replaced.
Laminate flooring is not difficult to install. A relatively handy person can install a laminate floor in a matter of hours or days at most. It is best to have a professional to install a hardwood floor and installation normally takes several days.
One of the biggest advantages of laminate floors is that they are relatively inexpensive compared to real hardwood. It is often possible to get an attractive floor with the appearance of real wood for a fraction of what a comparative hardwood floor would cost. When figuring the cost of the floor, you must also consider the expense of installation. With the possibility of do-it-yourself laminate installation to the large labor expense involved with installing hardwood floors, laminate floors are even less expensive.