As you stand at the crossroads of choosing the right flooring for your home, laminate flooring undoubtedly presents itself as a noteworthy option. 

Laminate is known to offer a highly practical and affordable solution to your flooring dilemma. It offers a balance of decent durability and a wide variety of aesthetic choices without the high cost of premium materials.

However, laminate does come with some downsides, and if you are one of the people who likes to make informed decisions, we’ve got you covered.

We will explore the pros and cons of laminate to highlight exactly where it shines and where it falls short so that, in the end, you can be sure that you made the right choice that suits your needs.

So, let’s start getting familiar with laminate!

What is Laminate Flooring?

We all know that laminate is a cheaper alternative to hardwood floors that can imitate the look of real wood.

Well, don’t get me wrong, laminate is also made from wood, but it’s predominantly made of extra-processed wood like High-Density Fiberboard (HDF) and Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF).

This is the reason behind the affordability of laminate. Laminate flooring is made by grinding wood into tiny fibers and then mixing them with binders, resulting in a dense board like HDF or MDF. That means that all parts of the tree, including wood residue left out after making furniture and even sawdust, can be used in the process.

This sure doesn’t mean that laminate flooring is of low quality because processed wood has really gone a long way in reaching quality and durability. In the process of making laminate, the tiny wood fibers are tightly compressed with strong adhesives under high heat and pressure, forming dense and stable boards. This process makes the material extremely strong and durable and ensures it maintains stability and shape over time, making it ideal for flooring.

Laminate Flooring is Made of Multiple Layers

However, to really check all the boxes on the list, a good flooring option must suffice aesthetic appeal and stand the test of time. That is why laminate flooring is made of multiple layers to ensure that the final product can compete with solid hardwood flooring:

  • Core layer: At its heart, laminate flooring boasts a sturdy core layer, typically crafted from plywood or high-density fiberboard. This foundational layer is the reason behind the product’s overall strength and long-term durability.
  • Image layer: On top of the core, laminate features a high-resolution, photo-realistic image layer. This is where the aesthetic appeal comes in – offering a big choice of designs, from various wood floor colors to tile-like appearances.
  • Wear layer: The final touch is the transparent wear layer, which safeguards the surface. This layer is remarkably effective in making laminate flooring scratch-resistant, even outperforming some of the most durable wood floors.
  • Optional underlayment or backing layer: Some laminate products include an additional underlayment or backing layer. This extra layer can enhance soundproofing and moisture resistance, although its presence varies depending on the brand.

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Pros of Laminate Flooring

Now that we have covered the basics of what laminate is, we can move on to the main topic: Why would you want to choose laminate for your home?

Luckily, there is a lot to say on this subject because laminate offers a lot of benefits that make it one of the most popular flooring options.

Laminate is Affordable

Let’s not beat around the bush: affordability is a key selling point of laminate flooring. Generally costing between $2 to $8 per square foot, laminate is a much more budget-friendly option compared to hardwood, which starts at about $8 per square foot and can go up to $15 or more for premium brands.

The real value lies in the mid-range of laminate flooring, priced around $4 to $6 per square foot. This is the price range where you can find a real sweet spot of quality, durability, and aesthetic appeal, making it a practical choice for most homes. It can withstand regular foot traffic and use while maintaining its appearance.

Laminate is Easy to Instal

Laminate flooring is a popular option for both do-it-yourselfers and those who prefer professional installation because of how simple and affordable the installation procedure is due to easy-to-install mechanisms, such as the “click-together” or “snap-lock” mechanisms. This makes it a popular choice for do-it-yourself projects because you can set it up quickly and easily across a variety of subfloors, frequently without the use of adhesives or specialized tools.

If you are not one of the do-it-yourself kind of people, the cost of installing laminate is still a lot cheaper than alternatives. On average, the labor rates for installing laminate flooring range from $1.75 to $4 per square foot.

Laminate is known for Its Durability

Laminate flooring stands out as an incredibly durable choice when it comes to flooring that can withstand the rigors of a busy home. Because of its durability, it is similar to porcelain tile and EVP (Engineered Vinyl Plank) flooring, particularly in terms of scratch resistance. This characteristic is especially crucial in houses with busy lives, where the allure of natural wood flooring is sometimes outweighed by its proneness to scratches.

With the beauty of wood without the risk of scratches from pets or scuffed toys from kids, laminate flooring provides the best of all worlds. Its longevity guarantees that the floors in high-traffic areas not only keep their fresh appearance longer but also survive for years without showing noticeable indications of wear.

It’s important to know the AC (Abrasion Class) grade of laminate while purchasing since it indicates how resistant it is to scratches. There are five levels of durability in this rating system, with AC5 denoting the greatest degree.

The majority of premium laminate flooring is scratch-resistant and has an AC4 grade, meaning it is intended for light commercial use. Practically speaking, a laminate floor with an AC4 rating is resilient enough to endure the everyday rigors of a busy home, including puppy activity. With this grade, the flooring is able to withstand higher levels of foot traffic and activity than alternatives with a lower rating, all without sacrificing its integrity or look.

There Are So Many Design Choices for Laminate

Because of its extraordinary range of styles, laminate flooring may be used to complement any home design style. Thanks to its photo-realistic image layer, it can imitate nearly any material, including stone and ceramic tile, as well as traditional hardwood species like hickory and ebony. Because of this adaptability, hardwoods’ distinctive looks may be appreciated without any of their drawbacks.

Furthermore, laminate design varies in more ways than one. To further increase its authenticity, it also has a variety of textures, including hand-scraped and genuine embossed finishes. Laminate flooring offers a design to fit every taste, whether you’re drawn to classic patterns like herringbone parquet, the dramatic statement of wide planks, or the beauty of thin planks. Because of its wide range of options, laminate is a popular choice for many.

Laminate is Allergy-Friendly

It is important to choose the correct flooring if you suffer from allergies. Laminate shows up as a great choice. Because of its firm surface, laminate flooring makes maintaining your room free of allergens like pet hair simpler than carpets, which may trap these irritating particles. 

Its non-fibrous, smooth surface makes cleaning easy and efficient, which helps keep allergens from building up in the house. Because of this, laminate is not only a fashionable option but also a sensible one for preserving a healthy home.

Laminate is Low-Maintenance and Easy to Clean

Laminated flooring doesn’t require the same yearly maintenance as other flooring varieties, like cork, which requires annual sealing. You can easily clean it with a sweep or a damp mop because of its smooth surface, which deters spills and stains. 

There is a noticeable maintenance difference between laminate and hardwood floors. Hardwood might need to be periodically refinished and cleaned with certain chemicals, but laminate provides a worry-free option that looks fantastic without requiring more time, money, or effort. Because laminate requires little upkeep, it’s a great option for busy homes seeking flooring that combines fashion and functionality.

Some Laminate Brands Offer Waterproof Options

It’s worth noting that while previous laminate flooring struggled with moisture resistance, modern technical breakthroughs have created waterproof alternatives. While not all laminate flooring is waterproof, several manufacturers now provide solutions that are resistant to moisture and spills. 

This quality greatly increases the laminate’s adaptability, making it suitable for use in damp environments like bathrooms and kitchens. Waterproof laminate is a more sensible option for a larger variety of household settings because it offers the appealing appearance and low maintenance of regular laminate and the further advantage of being moisture resistant.

Cons of Laminate Flooring

As you can see, there are many reasons for you to decide on laminate flooring, but before you make a choice, it’s only fair to get familiar with the downsides of the laminate so you can know where it falls short and if it can be a dealbreaker for you.

Laminate Flooring Cannot Be Refinished

Laminate flooring, while visually similar to hardwood, significantly differs in terms of longevity and renewability. 

The average lifespan of laminate flooring ranges from 15 to 25 years, potentially extending up to 30 years under optimal care and maintenance conditions. However, unlike hardwood, laminate cannot be sanded down or restained. 

This means that once it shows signs of wear or damage, it typically requires replacement rather than refurbishment. Therefore, hardwood might be a more suitable choice for those prioritizing a floor that can be rejuvenated over time, compared to laminate, which offers a shorter lifespan and lacks refinishing capabilities.

The Feeling of Laminate isn’t Really 100% Authentic

Laminate flooring, while sophisticated in its capacity to visually replicate genuine wood, falls short of capturing the authentic feel and warmth of natural wood flooring. The distinction is in the texture and underfoot feel. Natural wood has distinct qualities, such as grain variations and minor texture changes, which laminate cannot entirely replicate. 

Furthermore, wood has a natural warmth and richness that adds to the ambiance of a place, something laminate, as a manufactured product, cannot fully achieve. While laminate may easily duplicate the appearance of wood, it frequently has a more uniform and artificial feel, lacking the subtle tactile variations and organic warmth associated with real wood flooring. 

This disparity is most obvious when it comes to touch and underfoot, where natural wood provides a more pleasant and appealing sensation.

Cross section of laminate flooring

Laminate Isn’t Always an Environment-Friendly Option

Laminate flooring, while popular for its aesthetic appeal and durability, is not always the most health-responsible option. This type of treated wood flooring usually contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs in laminate flooring primarily originate from adhesives used to connect wood fibers during production. These adhesives, which are necessary for the laminate’s structure and durability, can emit VOCs over time, leading to indoor air pollution. This off-gassing process has created environmental and health concerns, prompting the creation of laminates that produce fewer VOCs. For consumers looking for environmentally friendly laminate, look for goods with certifications such as GreenGuard or FloorScore, which indicate lower VOC levels.

Laminate Does Not Reflect Good on Home Resale Value

Laminate flooring, while cost-effective and durable, typically doesn’t boost home resale value as much as real hardwood. Home buyers often prefer the natural appearance and the option to refinish hardwood floors, aspects laminate cannot offer. 

While laminate may be suitable for certain areas or budget constraints, it’s less likely to increase a home’s value compared to hardwood, which can enhance a property’s appeal and price​​​​​​.

Laminate Usually Doesn’t Stand Water

Laminate flooring’s resilience to water damage depends on whether you choose a water-resistant or waterproof kind, so it’s important to know the difference between the two before you buy.

The water-resistant kind offers a certain amount of protection from water, making it suitable for minor spills or moderate humidity. It usually won’t hold up to water for very long. Laminate is susceptible to warping, swelling, or even disintegration when exposed to high moisture over an extended period of time.

As an alternative, waterproof laminate is specifically designed to withstand higher levels of water exposure. Its superior resistance to moisture makes it an excellent choice for wet or spilly environments. Having said that, keep in mind that not even waterproof laminates are impervious to all forms of water; very damp environments may still be a problem, and it still may not be the best choice for bathrooms.

In comparison to other flooring materials, laminate flooring, regardless of kind, often has a lower tolerance for water. Even with water-resistant or waterproof varieties, harm may occur after prolonged exposure to moisture. To keep laminate looking great, it’s important to clean up spills quickly and not put it in places that get a lot of moisture.

Laminate isn’t the Most Comfortable Flooring Option

In terms of how comfortable a floor is, laminate falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not as plush as carpet but may provide more padding than hard floors like concrete or tile. 

With high-quality underlayment, laminate floors may be much more comfortable, with improved cushioning and a somewhat softer sensation underfoot. On the other hand, alternatives like cork flooring provide superior resilience and natural softness.

Laminate Flooring FAQ

Laminate flooring, which is known for its adaptability and convenience, frequently causes various concerns among those contemplating it for their homes. To assist you in navigating the options and considerations, below are some frequently asked questions and their answers:

What is the Best Laminate Installation Method?

Most laminate flooring nowadays is put as a floating floor. This technology uses planks that click together and sit above the subfloor without being directly attached, allowing for natural expansion and movement. For a more permanent solution, there is a glue-down option, which is similar to how glue-down vinyl plank flooring is done.

Is Laminate Flooring Prone to Damage?

No flooring is completely impervious to harm, but laminate flooring is noted for its durability, particularly when equipped with a thicker wear layer. For high-traffic areas, seek laminate with at least an AC3 grade. Also,  some novel choices, such as magnetic flooring, enable simple plank replacement.

Are Laminate Floors A Good Investment?

Laminate floors are a cost-effective, long-lasting solution with a lifespan of 15 to 25 years, making them a wise investment for home remodeling. While they do not add value to a home like hardwood, their low cost and long lifespan make them a viable option for many homeowners.

Can Laminate Flooring Be Used in Every Room?

While laminate flooring is adaptable, it is not recommended for severely damp locations due to its moisture sensitivity. However, it is an excellent choice for primary living areas and even pet-friendly houses, thanks to its durability and ease of upkeep.

How Does Laminate Perform in Terms of Environmental Impact?

Laminate flooring can generate Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), but many newer alternatives are intended to reduce this. Look for certified products such as GreenGuard or FloorScore for decreased VOC emissions.


With this laminate flooring guide coming to a conclusion, it should be obvious that laminate is a cheap and practical option for anyone seeking a beautiful and long-lasting floor. 

Its many attractive features include its low price, ease of installation, and a wide variety of styles, making it suitable for a wide range of interiors. Laminate is also a great choice for high-traffic areas since it is long-lasting and resistant to scratches and wear and tear.

Nonetheless, you should weigh these benefits and drawbacks. Due to its lack of repairability, laminate does not outlast more robust materials. There are various flooring options that perform better in extremely damp places than waterproof and water-resistant laminate, despite its many improvements. 

Although laminate successfully mimics the appearance of wood and stone, it lacks the tactile qualities of non-processed materials.

It is crucial to keep the surroundings in mind as well. While you can find environmentally friendly options, laminate does have the potential to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

Last but not least, laminate flooring is cheap, but it won’t increase a home’s resale value as hardwood would.

To sum up, laminate flooring is a versatile and durable choice that suits many houses. Be sure to consider your room’s and your lifestyle’s requirements before making a final decision.

About The Author

Steph Gregerson

January 18, 2024

Steph is a book nerd, rule follower, and pizza lover who can't get enough of playing outside. She was raised on the ice rinks of MN and currently resides in sunny San Diego. As a freelance writer, she loves research, producing content, and organizing information for a wide variety of clients. She currently has at least 10 browser windows open at all times.