Laminate Versus Hardwood Floors


Benefits Of Laminate Floors. SummaryHardwood vs Laminate floors

Laminate floors are extremely durable but do have their limitations. Even though they are very tolerant of scratching they can still be damaged given the right conditions. Examples include dropping large irregular objects, unprotected chair legs, and dragging furniture across the floor. These floor types are also stain resistant and do not fade or change color as wood floors do.

See 2013 Trends. New Styles

Disadvantages

Unlike traditional wood flooring they cannot be refinished or resurfaced because they are composed of a thin artificial surface mimicking hardwood grain or tile patterns. Patterns are repetitious. Each box will contain the same appearance. Repairs are quite difficult for any do it yourselfer but experienced professionals armed with the proper tools can handle them in a snap. All laminate floors are floating type only. This is not much of a disadvantage in most respects. Common complaints from owners are often hollow sounding floors, common with many floating floors. Upgraded underlayment installed under the floor can dramatically cut down on not only the hollow sound but click, clap feel underfoot.

Old Floor Need Removal? Easy Methods

Comparison

Laminate Hardwood
   
Photographed image/repeating patterns Natural/no one piece is alike
Lifespan is limited. Less than 20 years Will last 20-100 years plus¹
Easier to maintain² Improved maintenance
Cannot be refinished Can be refinished
Difficult to repair Can be repaired easier
Brand lines discontinued often³ Easier to find replacement solution
Fade resistant Will darken/amber
Scratch resistant Will scratch easier
Will not help resale value of home Improves home resale value & selling duration

Benefits Of Hardwood Floors. Summary

More natural looking. There are no repeat patterns as each and every piece of hardwood will be different due to the product being natural. Has a better longevity factor depending on what type is chosen. Solid wood floors can last well into one hundred years and can also be refinished with color changes.

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Disadvantages

Can scratch and dent easily. More prone to water damage but may be temporary, opposed to laminate flooring where water damage may be permanent and require replacement.

Resale Value Of Homes

Laminates have not been known to provide better resale value compared to wood floors.

¹ Will depend largely on maintenance, care, and type of style chosen (engineered/solid)
² Some clean obsessed people complain about the presence of foot prints after cleaning.
³ Finding discontinued flooring more difficult than that of hardwoods. Plan on extras when buying.

Trends 2012-2013

Manufacturers have made impressive inroads in technology and Hand scraped laminate flooringespecially styles since they first appeared in dealer showrooms almost 15 years ago. Back in the day there was no creativity as all seemed to have the same boring appearance; notably a butcher block look.

The Look And Feel Of Real Hand Scraped Floors

Several product introductions in recent years are really standing out. A few years earlier flat hand scraped appearances began to appear, but now they've taken it one step further by creating an actual feel. This is accomplished prior to adding the laminated surface as the core material from some manufacturers are contoured very similar to hand scraped wood flooring products.

Longer Length Products

Other standout improvements include longer length material. One line in particular is the Armstrong Rustics Premium New England Long Plank. With twelve color selections as of this moment, one thing is clear, this seven and one half inch wide plank presents board lengths at seven and a half feet. This represents a major improvement and puts some engineered hardwoods to shame that don't go longer than 48 inches.

Repetitious Looks Fading?

Another improvement worth noting are attempts at reducing the repetitious look often associated with all laminate flooring. Rather than having 6 or 7 real patterns or board appearances, Earthwerks has recognized the age old design flaw by expanding the number of patterns to 22. Essentially the chances of seeing a repeat look is diminished. Whether or not other manufacturers follow this substantial change is unknown.

What Kind Of Styles?

Depending on the manufacturer nearly everything that one would find with today's popular selling hardwoods can be found. This includes floors that mimic a country feel or Laminate flooring with parquet tilescharacter grade appearances with the actual feel and appearance of knotting through the use of embossing technology. Beveled styles can be found along with pillowing and sculpted effects on board edges.

You want random lengths? Some of those to go around as well. Things have definitely changed with this type of flooring. Along with the improvements come the costs compared to more traditional wood floors. While they have increased for many of the more popular styles they are still substantially lower than the real thing. The question remains; will they still have that fake stigma or have manufacturers turned the elusive corner?

We've selected some of the more impressive designs of the day along with basic specifications on material lengths, widths, and number of color selections below. Keep in mind these are the tip of what has become a large iceberg.

Long Plank
Product Name
Length
Width
Edges
Colors
 
Armstrong Rustics Premium New England
89"
7.6"
Bevel
8
Lamett Long Plank
88.5"
5.5"
Bevel
6
Mannington Long Wood
80.63"
7.8"
Micro Bevel
6

Extra Wide Planks

Balterio Grandeur
80"
9.4"
Micro Bevel
8
Balterio Conference
49.6"
15.4
Square Edge
8

Embossed

Alloc Elite
47.4"
5"
V Bevel
12
Mannington Revolutions
50.5"
5.3"
Micro Bevel
25
Mohawk Mansfield Park
47.2"
7.5"
Square Edge
7
Mohawk South Beach
54.4"
4"
MB/SE ¹
8
Mohawk Bellingham
47.2"
7.5"
Square Edge
12
Pergo Elegant Expressions Designer
48.5"
4.9"
Micro Bevel
6

Hand Scraped Distressed

Armstrong Rustics Premium
50.6"
4.9"
Rolled
6
Mohawk Maison
54.4"
6.1"
Micro Bevel
10
Quick Step Sculptique
54.4"
6.1"
Sculpted
6
Quick Step Country
54.4"
6"
Sculpted
10

Textured

Quick Step Perspectives
54.4"
6.1"
Bevel
5
Balterio Tradition Elegant
49.6"
7.5"
Micro Bevel
6

Exotic Appearances

Mannington Revolutions
50.5"
5.3"
Micro Bevel
20
Quick Step Allustra
54.4"
6.1"
Micro Bevel
6
Quick Step Perspectives
54.4"
6.1"
Bevel
5

Parquet

Quick Step Arte ² DISCONTINUED
24.5"
24.5"
Bevel
2

¹ Micro bevel long sides, square edge end
² Can be used for full parquet layouts, borders, room perimeters, or medallions.

What Happened To Glued Together Products?

For all intent and purposes glued type products have died. Several reasons included the difficulty of the installation that required strap clamping to keep boards tight. Excess or too much glue used created seam swelling on some products. Essentially companies built a better mousetrap when click type and lock and fold variations were introduced.

Removing Older Floors - A Simple Job

Nearly all laminate flooring has been installed by the floating method with the Laminate Flooring Removalexception of Wilsonart that had a direct glue type installation in the late 90’s. Up until 2002 or so most were glued by the tongue and groove. This has very little effect on removing.

How To

Once the baseboard, shoe molding or quarter round is removed it can be as simple as cutting open a hole along a wall line. Let’s say we have a large area and the wall line extends 20 feet. Simply use a circular saw with the cutting blade set a tad (1/8”) deeper than the thickness of the flooring and rip a two foot section away from the wall line. That’s almost the hardest part of the job.

Once this section is removed it can almost be folded together. By picking up one end, the overall weight of the rest will sometimes break in two. If not, all you need is someone standing on the large portion (and you lifting at the same time) about six feet away and snap, it’s broken in two. The rest of the floor can be lifted with the same procedure; having someone heavy enough on the other end.

Careful. Not Too Fast!

Once you find it’s as simple as walking the dog, it will be critical to slow down when you get near door openings or around the casings themselves. This can also apply to kitchen cabinetry and walls. Essentially you don’t want to damage the areas. I got carried away my first time and dinged up the bottom side of a door casing. Remember, you may be installing another floor and having to repair your mistakes can be avoided.

Can I Save The Underlayment?

If you’re considering installing another floating floor, it’s wise to check with the individual manufacturers specifications. Some can be quite anal about using their own proprietary products that can void a warranty. If there are no specifications and the existing underlayment is sound, intact, and functioning it can be used providing it was installed correctly. Check for torn seams or the film underlayment if the sub floor is concrete.

If the older floor had that click clack sound when walking over you may want to consider an upgraded underlayment that reduces the sound. Were there any spongy spots with the older floor? Likely that the sub floor was not flat enough. The best procedure is removing the underlayment and check for flatness. Perhaps the older floor was installed during the hey days of the latest building boom. Some retailers had no choice but sending out installers that really did not have the proper qualifications to install the floor and could have ignored the most important part of any hardwood or laminate job; proper floor preparation.

Other Notes:

For thicker laminate flooring or ones greater than the standard 5/16” thickness removal may not be as simple. In this case cutting the floor into manageable sections so they can be carried easily from the premises may be needed.

Related Pages

Types Of Wood Floors
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