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Cage Match! Laminate versus Wood

By Christa Terry

I’ll admit that my skills sometimes fail me when I’m trying to tell wood and really good laminate apart by just looking. Some laminate flooring (Wilsonart’s, for example) looks as woody as can be. What usually clinches it for me is those tiny gaps–laminate planks tend to fit together snugly while older wood planks are just slightly less than perfect. My deductive system isn’t perfect, however, and both types of flooring can look truly spectacular.

Two floors enter…one floor leaves

So which flooring material would win in a cage match? According to this chart from Floor Facts, there are strengths and weaknesses on either side. Laminate floors are extremely impact-, scratch-, burn-, fade-, and stain-resistant. Wood, on the other hand, is easier to repair and tends to look that much nicer. Laminate cannot be refinished but it’s easy to install. Wood lasts longer, but isn’t always DIY friendly.

If two flooring types enter the cage, but only one can leave, I think that wood would emerge as the victor, simply because it looks good and it lasts (and lasts and lasts). My grandparents live in a home built in an early nineteenth century barn, and both the dining room floor and the kitchen island were built using wood from the original threshing room floor. After many, many years, that wood is still as warm and as beautiful as ever.

11 Responses to “Cage Match! Laminate versus Wood”

  1. Carol Says:

    We just pulled up the carpet in our living/dining room and replaced it with 3i wide hickory prefinished hardwood. Took the major part of a weekend plus a couple of evenings to do it, but we did it ourselves and it looks wonderful!

    The benefits? 1. No allergic reactions since the wood doesn’t hold pet hair/dander 2. Higher resale value 3. Easy to clean up spills from parties and grandkids 4. Makes the room look larger because of the long board lines and light reflection

  2. Never teh Bride Says:

    Right on, Carol! You’ve cheered my heart, because while the first floor of our house is all pretty wood, the upstairs is horrid old carpet tacked into what looks like vinyl. We’ve been discussing out DIY options for a while, so it’s nice to know it’s doable!

  3. Little Red Says:

    I’m planning on ripping out the carpeting in my condo and have hardwood put in for all the reasons Carol mentioned. I’ll be broke when it’s done but I’ll have a beautiful home. 🙂

  4. Peaches Says:

    Ive heard that vinyl is crazy loud with a house full of dogs. Our Pergo is very noisy.Think clickety clickety…
    Im steering toward hardwood for this reason. We need a hard surface that adds warmth and durability yet isnt so noisy.

  5. Phyllis Says:

    Nah – I’m not buying this argument. We have laminate flooring in our house and it was the perfect solution. Looks just as good as real wood.

  6. Jennie Says:

    Wood in living areas, laminate in wet, moist areas, or as the budget and lifestyle allows. If a dog’s human, laminate all the way. Not damaged by claws, accidents, drool….

  7. Toby Wollin Says:

    Sorry, I’m a wood girl all the way(and my DH’s last name is Wood, so I could not escape). We ripped up all the horrific dark green carpeting in our house to find…really horrific dark stained hardwood floors. Our contractor assured us that underneath the horrible varnish were gorgeous floorboards just waiting to be discovered. He was right. Of course, also underneath that horrible varnish was…stains on the wood from when we had a dog who was incontinent – the pee had gone through the carpet, through the varnish, right into the wood. And when that happens, there is really nothing you can do because to get that stain out, you’d have to sand the floors down to practically nothing. So, we had the floor guys do the best they could, stain the wood with a light stain, and have learned to call the dog pee stains “character”. But I do love wood and it has lightened the house immeasurably.

  8. Toby Wollin Says:

    Oh, and for wet areas – forget wood. Go with slate, ceramic tile, etc. It’s easy to clean, and looks far more classy than laminate in my not so humble opinion.

  9. Joan H. Says:

    We have 3 kids and 2 cats, so when we ripped out our old and disgusting carpet last summer, we put in laminate. Twice. The first time the installers messed up and practically every plank “peaked”, or didn’t match edge-to-edge with the boards around it. They ripped that entire job out and re-did it with our new choice, Lowe’s house brand Alloc in Rustic Pear. It’s gorgeous, and it has a lifetime warranty on fade, dents, scratches, and wear.

    And it’s easy to repair laminate, you just pop out the offending board and pop a new one in, or so the installers said — but that depends on the laminate. Wood’s forever, but it’s also really, really expensive, and you have to be much more careful with it.

  10. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    Aesthetically, I do prefer wood to laminate. But I also love the look of a white sofa, and I know darned well that THAT’s not going to happen. We’re dog people. We’re going to be having kids. And we’re on a tight budget. Those three factors make the decision pretty easy. However, we did compromise by eschewing the cheapie laminate, and choosing slightly higher-end stuff that actually has some texture to it. (It’s called “Barn Oak” and well….it looks like reclaimed barn boards.)

    Someday, maybe when the kids are older and our salaries are higher, we’ll get hardwood (or bamboo, my personal fave). But for now, our laminate will do just fine.

  11. easyrt Says:

    Great post!! A lot of people really do not know the benefits of laminate flooring. next summer we are planning on redoing our laundry room with laminte. We were going to do it this summer but we decided to go on vacation insted ;o)

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