Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hardwood vs Laminate

I see that quite a few bloggers have chosen laminate over hardwood.  While I imagine that at least in some cases it's a question of cost, I'd really like to hear from people on why they chose one over the other.  Three of our friends have told us NOT to get Pergo, because if water sits on it for any amount of time you're SOL.  As any of you with kids or pets know, liquid on the floor is pretty much a given!  And considering that my boys are clumsy and I have a cat who takes perverse pleasure out of knocking over any drinking vessel he can get to, this is definitely a concern.

Here are the pros and cons of each as far as I've been able to discover:

Hardwood
Pros:
Adds to value of the home
Can be refinished
"Softer" underfoot
More character from wood variations

Cons:
Expensive
Fades
Scratches easily
Susceptible to moisture problems


Laminate
Pros:
Cheaper
Doesn't fade
Scratch-resistant

Cons:
Not as realistic-looking
Susceptible to moisture problems
Can be loud
Not as "soft" underfoot

***edited to add:  I should have mentioned, our plan was to do one flooring throughout the downstairs except the family room...I'm worried about this decision mostly for the kitchen, which is obviously a high risk area for moisture damage.

25 comments:

  1. Honestly, I just wanted what I wanted! When we saw the espresso hardwood in a model--I fell in love with the color and they became a "MUST HAVE" on our dream home list. BTW--it made the choice much easier once we realized that we were the home of the month (SCORE) and hardwood floors were one of the incentives. We paid the difference to upgrade to espresso which provided us a huge savings on the floors.

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    1. I wish hardwood floors had been an incentive! Much more useful than the finished basement...we could have done that later on cheaper.

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  2. We went with laminate. We researched quite a bit and it seemed to win hands-down with kids/water/pets. At the model-home in our community you can see lots of dents in the hardwood and also the flooring rep told us that with kids laminate was the best option. I don't want to have to worry about the kids banging toys on the floor-I want them to enjoy living and playing there. As for laminate pricing-the nice laminate isn't always cheaper unfortunately. We chose the highest laminate upgrade which ended up barely less than the lowest hardwood upgrade. But, it has 5in planks and a 30yr warranty against stains/water damage/wear so I think it's worth the cost.

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    2. Alicia, you made a great choice! I know I would have been inclined to make the same choice when my children were growing up. We had carpet in our homes and I remember dreading the spills especially from the red kool-aid stains. We immediately became a no red juice zone and shoe free zone. Now we are happy empty nesters! lol

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    3. Hey, a blogger I hadn't found yet! Sweet! I'll have to catch up on your progress. :)

      Did you get laminate in the kitchen? I guess I should have mentioned that in my post...we're looking to do the whole ground level (except family room) in one flooring. Could you check back in (or do a post on your blog) after you move in and let us know how you feel once you're living with it?

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    4. Thanks Nadase:) I think it'll work well for us! Amanda-Yes, we got laminate in the kitchen, morning room, mudroom, powder room, hall, and foyer. We get keys on Friday and move the 18th so I'll definately post what I think about it:) We chose the Armstrong Illusions Sedona Cherry.

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  4. This will be my third house with hardwood. The other two were older homes, and I was never really bothered with any scratches or nicks. Worst case, you can always sand it down and refinish.

    We were open to laminate this time and even investigated engineered wood. We really liked the super wide engineered look, but it ended up to be just as expensive as the level 3 hardwood we loved. I've also heard there can be bad squeaking problems with engineered floors.

    I do think it's mostly personal preference/budget. Only thing I'd say is that if you think you'll be selling in 5-10 years it may be worth asking your real estate agent about. They will probably have some good insight into what's expected at your price point and in your neighborhood.

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    1. We have no intention to sell...we keep saying we're going to die in this house and it'll be up to our kids to try and sell the place! ;)

      Did you have hardwood in your kitchen? I really should have mentioned in the post that my main concern is the kitchen, since it's a high risk zone for moisture.

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  5. I think one of the main benefits of hardwood is that you can refinish it (which you cannot do with laminate or engineered wood). So if you plan on being in your house a really long time or if you're really tough on your floors, hardwood might be better. The only instance I've heard of personally of someone actually refinishing hardwood was my brother in the house I lived in before this. He had just laid his brand new hardwood and someone came through with broken stilettos which left pock-marks all over (you see that a lot in the model homes actually). He was so upset and wound up sanding them down and re-doing them the next weekend and they looked as good as new.

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    1. One of my friends refinished the hardwood in her home a few years back...it was apparently a pain to move all the furniture but other than that she was pretty happy with it. I will definitely make a note that there will be no stilettos allowed in my house... :)

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  6. We have 3 kids, 2 large dogs and 2 cats. We had inexpensive hardwoods in our former home and they were not able to be refinished because they were too thin. The scratches didn't bother me too much, but when we found that the laminate had a 30 year wear warranty, I was sold. We went with the upper level laminate, and while it is beautiful and still looks brand new despite all the traffic it's seen, I still would have like hardwood better. The laminate makes a cracking sound as you walk over it. Ours didn't at first, but it does now. Also, because it is a floating floor, it has some give to it that makes it obvious that it's not hardwood. It was also not much cheaper than the hardwood. Considering the finish is very important. Our laminate has a high gloss finish and I have to clean it every day or there are footprints on it which drives me nuts. Our hardwood in the old house rarely looked dirty. Just some factors to consider when picking between the two.

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    1. I went and looked at your selection pages, did you go with the vinyl in the kitchen and laminate in the morning room? We really wanted to have a single flooring throughout the downstairs (minus the family room) but given the kids and cats I'm starting to worry about using anything except vinyl or tile in the kitchen. I'd hate to have to replace or refinish soon after moving in just because we made a bad choice!

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    2. We went with an upgraded vinyl in the kitchen and morning room. I will check our selections page to see where the confusion lies. DH does not like tile (although I got him to concede to use it in the master bath) and we are waiting for hardwoods until the kids and pets are older and not so hard on things. We only have the laminate in the foyer, our extended hallway to the study and in the powder room.

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    3. lol...that's actually my mistake! I went back and looked at your pictures and without clicking on the morning room it looked like laminate. When I clicked on it to make it larger it obviously wasn't any kind of wood! I think I need to get my eyes checked. Are you like the vinyl so far?

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  7. I like the vinyl well enough. It is a low gloss floor vs. the high gloss I had in my last home. It never looks dirty which is quite an accomplishment in my home:). Being that I have the upgraded vinyl and the included vinyl upstairs in the laundry room and kids' bath, I can say that the upgraded vinyl seems much nicer.

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    1. The flooring rep pointed out to me that the darker cherry floor that I really wanted would show dirt, so we went with the Gunstock hardwood. And will be changing the cabinets yet again! :) We went with the basic vinyl in all the baths/laundry/mudroom, though, to save on costs.

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  8. We have laminate in our Rome. We got it in the entry way, "mud room", kitchen and morning room. We have a dog (plans to adopt another) 3 cats and as of now no children so we decided on laminate floors. Mainly because of low maintenance and the cost was a huge factor in our choice as well. We went with the up graded laminate and it looks really good!

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    1. Too bad it's still covered up, I'd love to see it!

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  9. I haven't seen this in anyones home yet I decided to do ceramic tile throughout the whole entire first floor beside the family room I did carpet there with scotch guard I have 3 kids a dog and a cat and I currently have hardwood and I know how it gets messed up really quick. Ceramic cost about the exact same as hardwood and you still get and you don't have to worry about water spills. the downside is that it's hard and cold.

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  10. We chose hardwood because we thought it looked better than the laminate. We are only getting hardwood in the kitchen and morning room though.

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    1. What did you do in the hall/foyer?

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  11. My parent's put WilsonArt laminate in there living/dining/kitchen areas when I was growing up. At the time it was the Cadillac of laminate floors. It held up amazingly and never showed any wear, creaked/cracked, and was durable. With any flooring - you get what you pay for and for really big areas, professional installation is worth it. Any type of animals with nails will scratch a high gloss finish regardless of material. A serious dishwasher/fridge leak gets you a new floor for the deductible anyways.

    We chose not to get the laminate because the entry level stuff lacked depth and felt plastic-y compared to some of the beautiful planked, high gloss stuff out there at specialty flooring stores. We ended up with hardwood in the living/foyer/powder for the same cost as laminate in the living/foyer/powder/kitchen/dinette areas. We opted for standard vinyl in kitchen/dinette and plan to upgrade to stone slate-like laminate in a few months.

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    1. My husband really had his heart set on hardwood, so since it worked with the budget that's what we got. I was really nervous about the laminate after hearing from those three friends, but I don't know what level of laminate they had.

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