Things to Know About Hardwood vs Laminate
I can't deny that wood floors are lovely to look at, warm and inviting, but the same effect can be obtained with laminate wood for a lot less money and headaches! And in many cases laminate wood may be the better choice. Not only does it look like "wood", under most situations it will out-perform real hardwoods...
Since the very beginning of laminate wood floors, improvements have been a constant endeavor with manufacturers, like Alloc, Mannington and Dupont, to make this flooring material a "perfect" product. The "wear" (top) layer is made of aluminum oxide, a shield about as strong as steel and penetrating it is near impossible.
With hardwood flooring not much has changed since the 70s to improve it's tolerance of normal living conditions. Other than developing a new type of finish to give it more protection, there's not much that can be done to change its profile. It is what it is, a lovely, natural product...
But lets be honest, there are some areas where any kind of wood flooring products is not the best choice. There are risk involved if you use wood in a kitchen or bathroom. If the flooring is porous, like hardwoods, it is a fort for harboring bacteria and germs.
Waterproof or Not?
The thing with hardwoods or laminate wood is neither one is totally waterproof... Too much exposure to moisture and hardwoods will expand, and as it dries it contracts. This type of action will cause all sorts of issues with finished hardwood floors.
Laminate wood tolerates moisture much better than hardwoods. The HPL (high-pressure laminate) is constructed with sealed waxed edges, this is in addition to the Aluminum Oxide surface coating, that increases water resistance. But if exposed too long to moisture/water it will buckle.
But between the two, laminate wood tolerates moisture and bacteria far better than hardwoods.
The Affect From Impacts
As hard and durable as hardwoods is, they are easily dinged from impacts! Hard to believe, but true! Drop a sharp edged object or heavy pan on the hardwood floor and it will leave a mark..
Do the same thing with laminate wood and it won't faze the flooring at all... The Aluminum Oxide surface coating on laminate can be compared to steel. Hard as a rock!
Scratching The Wood
Hardwood floors scratch very easily. You have to be very careful when moving furniture, or anything of considerable weight or with a rough bottom, not to drag it but to lift it, unless you have floor guards on the bottom of whatever object you want to move. Outside grit will scratch the wood, too, so it is very important to keep it swept up and use entry way area rugs to prevent bringing outside grit inside.
Laminate wood will scratch, but not so easily, and as with hardwood floors, putting rugs in front of outside entry ways is a smart way to protect your flooring. My laminate wood kitchen floor is 7 years old and there is not one scratch on it. Once again the surface finish is what provides such good protection.
Hardwood floors are easy enough to sweep or dust and so is mopping, but it requires cleaning products made for hardwood floors. Eventually, hardwood floors will need refinishing or even sanding and refinishing, but can be sanded may times over. Maintenance can be fairly costly if the floor needs a new finish. If it is necessary to replace any of the flooring it can be done board by board without replacing the whole floor..
Laminate wood floors don't require much in the care and maintenance department. Just sweep often and light mop when needed. No special products are necessary. Swiffer products are perfect for laminate floors. Another thing with laminate wood is you can replace single planks without replacing the whole floor.
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