Depending on the type of finish you want – and your budget – you’ll need to choose between a hardwood and laminated floor.
Laminate flooring gives an almost wood-like finish but is much easier to clean and less expensive than the real thing.
Before you decide, check out the pros and cons of laminate floors.
Laminate floors are much easier to install than hardwood floors. This is because today’s laminates come with an easy lock and fold design, which ensures the pieces fit into each other like a glove. These pieces are easily combined to give a definite shape to the floor within a few hours.
Hardwood floors, on the other hand, tend to be installed as slabs, making the process more difficult. Problems can arise with laminates floors if the fold and lock design does not work as it should, creating raised edges which can become a trip hazard.
Laminate floors are much easier to clean because they are not made of real wood. With no danger of water damage, laminates can be cleaned with a mop and bucket.
Beware of cheap laminate, which can be prone to water retention. If this happens the top layer of the laminate will swell up and looks unsightly. Look out for the special laminate floor cleaners, which aim to avoid this issue.
Difficult to dent and almost entirely scratch proof, laminates are resistant to most normal wear and tear – even from the weight of heavy objects. But unlike wood, laminate can’t be polished or sanded – if it does get damaged, you’ll probably need to replace the entire floor.
Wood floors feel extremely hard underfoot but laminate floors are generally fitted with an under-layer, which provides a cushion-like feeling to walk on.
Laminate flooring can be extremely slippery, although many manufacturers now offer slip-resistant options. And laminate can even conduct static electricity – this can be avoided by keeping the floor clean.
Laminate floors can reproduce the look and finish of wood very well. Just be aware that, as it is not wood, it will have no natural grain – look closely and you might see the pattern recurring. But they are much more environmentally-friendly.
Laminate flooring can mimic wood well but will never have the kudos of the real thing. If you are looking to sell your home at a premium, you should probably go for hardwood.