KronotexUSA_Amazone_2461_Cambridge_Oak-smallThere comes a time in the flooring decision-making process where you realize that it comes down to hardwood vs. laminate. You’ve come to your senses regarding that shag carpet. You’ve done tile before and, like most everyone else, wished you’d picked a different color, size, kind, grout, etc. We’ve all been there.

And now you’re here, where most people eventually arrive, at the hardwood vs. laminate debate. In the past, it used to be no contest: Got lots of money? Spring for the hardwoods. Not so much money? Get the laminate.

Now, though, the debate is bit more complicated—mostly because certain laminate flooring options have gotten extremely attractive in a lot of ways.

First of all, consider how much of your home’s flooring you are replacing. Are you tying the floor into another space that already has laminate vs. hardwood? If you’re tying into an existing floor, you might stick with the same flooring in order for it to match. However, matching an existing hardwood floor is much easier said than done. But if other floors in your home are not an issue, here are the basic arguments when considering hardwood vs. laminate flooring.

Durability. People often make a big fuss about how long hardwoods last. The funny part is that they have to be refinished every five to ten years or so depending on the amount of traffic, or in my case, the destructive tendencies of two young children. A high quality laminate is resistant to wear, fading and staining. So it will look as good as it did the day you installed it after 20 years or more without needing anything but the occasional cleaning.

Care. Hardwoods and laminate require around the same amount of routine care. Vacuum, sweep and clean up any spills and you’re done. Although, spill red wine on some hardwoods and you’ll end up with red floors. And anyone with a dog or small children has to just learn to tolerate the scratches that hardwoods tend to get.

Environment. Since this is KronotexUSA’s blog, the answer here is pretty clear cut (pun intended). While both hardwoods and laminates use trees, the use of sustainable pine trees from ecological forest thinning operations and the absence of harmful chemicals in KronotexUSA’s manufacturing processes give their laminates a significant advantage in the green department. We’ll let you click over to their environmental responsibility page if you want all the crunchy details.

Installation. Few installation jobs will inspire you to leave your home more than installing and refinishing hardwood floors. The dust, curing time and lingering smell are unpleasant at best, potentially hazardous at worst. Laminates can be professionally installed quickly and easily without nails or glue, and all the finishing is done at the factory instead of your house.

Cost. This last one isn’t even fair. Laminates last longer, install easier, are more eco-friendly are absolutely gorgeous and, with their embossed grain or hand scraped finishes, impossible to tell apart from hardwoods. And they are STILL usually much less expensive than hardwoods.

And the winner in hardwood vs. laminate is…

Just taking the aforementioned factors into account, you’d expect us to say laminate. And we would, quite honestly. But not necessarily for those reasons.

Ultimately, the hardwood vs. laminate debate comes down to whether the quality and beauty of modern laminate flooring matches not just the natural beauty of hardwood flooring, but also matches the wear and tear of my life with kids and dogs and scratching and spills and so on. For many, it does. And it looks fabulous.