Laminate vs. Hardwood: A Side-by-side Look | FlooringStores
laminate-or-hardwood featured image
Blog Home

Laminate vs. Hardwood: A Side-by-side Look

This post may contain references or links to products from one or more partners of our parent company and/or subsidiaries of our parent company. For more information, visit this page.

September 25, 2023

Hardwood flooring is renowned for its timeless beauty and natural elegance. With a rich variety of wood species, finishes, and textures, hardwood floors offer an unrivaled classic aesthetic. While laminate flooring can deliver many of the same things, it is essential to differentiate them. They are distinct products with unique compositions, characteristics, advantages, and ideal usage scenarios. Today we cover crucial aspects to aid in your decision-making process.

Ready to start shopping?
While we hope you stay through the whole blog and ensure you find the perfect material, we know you want to see the best of these products for yourself. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Laminate – Liberty Home
Visit their site | Find a retailer | Order samples
Hardwood – Paradiso
Visit their site | Find a retailer | Order samples

Table of Contents

Similarities & Differences

While both are popular flooring choices, hardwood and laminate have distinct compositions and characteristics. The primary way they are similar is clear to see… but only from a distance. At face value, both products look the same, like wood. The closer you get to laminate flooring, the more artificial it looks. With hardwood, the closer you get, the more character you find. Beyond appearance, you will mostly find differences, so let’s cover those by each pressing category.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Water Resistance

Water resistance is undeniably a pivotal factor to consider when evaluating flooring, particularly in areas with high humidity levels or frequent exposure to water.

Hardwood: Hardwood is not naturally water-resistant and can be damaged by excess moisture. Without proper precautions, it is not recommended for basements, bathrooms, or high-humidity environments.

Laminate: Laminate flooring is more water-resistant than hardwood, but not all laminates are waterproof. Some laminate products offer enhanced water resistance, making them suitable for areas where moisture is a concern. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications and warranty for water-resistant options.


Hardwood vs. Laminate Lifespan

Understanding the anticipated lifespan of your flooring enables you to make informed decisions regarding maintenance, renovation, and replacement cycles, ultimately contributing to your property’s overall sustainability and cost efficiency.

Hardwood: Hardwood flooring can last for generations with proper care and maintenance. It has the advantage of being able to be refinished multiple times, which can extend its lifespan significantly.

Laminate: Laminate flooring generally has a shorter lifespan compared to hardwood. It may last 15-25 years, and once it shows signs of wear or damage, replacement is necessary since it cannot be refinished.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Care & Maintenance

Ensuring that you provide proper care and regular maintenance is crucial when preserving both the aesthetic appeal and the long-term durability of your flooring, so how do these materials compare in terms of effort?

Hardwood: To maintain hardwood flooring, regular cleaning, avoiding excessive moisture, and periodic refinishing are necessary. Scratches and dents can be repaired through refinishing. Using furniture pads and rugs in high-traffic areas can help prevent wear.

Laminate: Laminate flooring is relatively low-maintenance. It requires regular sweeping or vacuuming to remove debris and occasional damp mopping. However, it cannot be refinished, so damaged planks must be replaced.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Composition

The other factors we consider here are really the effect, and composition is the cause. The production process and material composition of laminate and hardwood are quite different.

Hardwood: Hardwood flooring consists exclusively of natural wood. It comprises solid planks, typically ranging from 5/16 to ¾ inch in thickness, showcasing the genuine, unaltered character of the wood.

Laminate: Laminate flooring comprises high-density fiberboard (HDF) as its core, topped with a printed layer treated with melamine and a protective wear layer to resist scratches and scuffs. While it contains wood fibers, laminate does not preserve the organic integrity of wood in its natural state.

girl with dog on laminate floor

Hardwood vs. Laminate Installation

Understanding the installation requirement differences for laminate and hardwood is critical in ensuring you make a choice that aligns with your needs and expectations.

Laminate: Laminate flooring is exceptionally user-friendly when it comes to installation, making it a prime choice for those who enjoy tackling home improvement projects on their own. This convenience arises from its ingenious design, featuring a tongue and groove or click-locking system, which empowers DIY enthusiasts to install it effortlessly without needing professional assistance.

Hardwood: Hardwood flooring requires the expertise of a professional installer due to the intricate and diverse installation techniques and considerations that must be carefully taken into account. This ensures not only the structural integrity and durability of the flooring but also its aesthetic appeal and long-term performance.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Comfort

The sensation of walking on a surface day in and day out can have a profound impact on our overall well-being, so you must consider how each material would feel in your home.

Hardwood: Hardwood flooring is known for its natural warmth and comfort. It doesn’t feel cold underfoot and provides a cozy surface to walk on. However, it may have a different level of cushioning than some other flooring options.

Laminate: Laminate flooring can feel colder and harder underfoot compared to hardwood. While some homeowners may choose to use area rugs or underlayment to add cushioning and warmth, it may provide a different comfort level than hardwood.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Appearance

The appearance of your flooring is undeniably crucial, as it plays a pivotal role in setting the tone and ambiance of any room or space. The flooring you choose can significantly impact your home or commercial space’s overall aesthetic, style, and perceived value.

Hardwood: Hardwood flooring offers a timeless, natural beauty. It showcases the unique grain patterns and character of the wood. It is available in various wood species, stains, and finishes, allowing for a wide range of aesthetic options.

Laminate: Laminate flooring is designed to mimic the look of hardwood. While it can closely resemble wood, it may not have the same depth and authenticity as real hardwood. Laminate comes in various patterns and finishes to replicate different wood types.

Hardwood vs. Laminate Performance

Both hardwood and laminate flooring have earned a well-deserved reputation for their durability, but the features that make these products last are unique.

Hardwood: Hardwood can endure scratches, scuffs, and wear caused by dirt, debris, pets, or heavy foot traffic. It has the unique advantage of refinishing multiple times, ensuring longevity with proper care. Certain hardwood species like cherry and walnut may be susceptible to sunlight-induced fading or discoloration. Consider sunlight exposure when selecting a hardwood species and employ window treatments or area rugs to mitigate fading.

Laminate: In contrast, laminate flooring, while resistant to scratching, scuffing, and staining, cannot be refinished. Damaged laminate planks or tiles must be replaced. Laminate flooring, however, can be impervious to photosensitivity.

hardwood-value floors

Hardwood vs. Laminate Value

Selecting the ideal flooring material is not merely a matter of aesthetics or personal preference; it’s a decision that can have long-lasting effects on your wallet and your property’s overall worth.

Hardwood: Hardwood tends to be the most expensive flooring option, especially when installation costs are factored in. Nevertheless, it’s often regarded as a long-term investment that can enhance a home’s resale value, as it rarely requires replacement within a homeowner’s lifetime.

Laminate: Laminate flooring offers the most budget-friendly option, with price variations based on manufacturer, product thickness, and additional features such as attached underlayment or water-resistant capabilities.

Best Hardwood & Laminate Brands

Laminate: Our favorite laminate flooring brands are Newton and Liberty Home. Newton is an affordable flooring brand that doesn’t sacrifice quality or style. While both brands offer stunning designs, Liberty Home may be your preferred choice if you search for flooring that ships quickly and is easy to install.

Hardwood: Doma and Paradiso stand out as two of the best hardwood flooring brands for your consideration. Both are under the Proximity Mills family but have a unique offering. Paradiso is the ultimate luxury hardwood flooring featuring the most stunning designs. For those who aren’t budgeting for a high-end product like Paradiso, Doma might be right up your alley.

Making a Decision

Ultimately, the choice between hardwood and laminate flooring depends on your specific room, lifestyle, and budget. Prioritize your requirements and decide based on what aligns best with your priorities. Each flooring type offers its own benefits and considerations, so take the time to assess your needs and preferences to select the perfect flooring for your home.

About The Author

Christian Southards

Christian is a freelance everything-writer, editor, & SEO guy. When he’s not writing about flooring and remodeling, he’s either writing news for the California American Legion or writing fresh content for his camping & EDC blog (or, you know, actually camping).

Show Comments (0)


Stylish bathroom with large marble tiles

The Pros and Cons of Tile Flooring

This post may contain references or links to products from one or more partners of our parent company and/or subsidiaries of our parent company. For more information, visit this page. In the world of interior design, tile flooring has reigned as a supreme option for years, given its remarkable blend of beauty and strength. It’s […]

Can You Install Flooring Yourself? 5 Crucial DIY Considerations

Thinking about starting a do-it-yourself flooring project? We get it! You’re handy, you’re clever, and you’ve got the internet at your fingertips! So a DIY flooring job should be easy, right? Wrong. Look, we know this is a big sticking point when it comes to replacing flooring. The DIY flooring thing can be super appealing, and it looks glamorous and simple on TV (what, you think that just because we’re flooring people we don’t enjoy HGTV? For shame).

Liberty Home Flooring: Is It Worth It?

This post may contain references or links to products from one or more partners of our parent company and/or subsidiaries of our parent company. For more information, visit this page. Updated September 18th, 2023 Flooring is not just a finishing touch in your home – it’s a fundamental element that impacts your daily life. Think […]

1 on 1 advice