When you’re investing a large amount of money into a project in your home, you need to be realistic about your lifestyle and how that will affect the lifespan of the materials you choose. Pets, young children, house traffic, etc, are all important factors that should be considered when making your decision, as well as scheduling and other installation factors.
As with any material you’re choosing for your kitchen redesign, there are pros and cons when it comes to deciding between hardwood and laminate flooring. In Part One of this series, we compared the two options on appearance and cost. This post, we’re discussing the practical side of things.
Part Two: Installation, Durability, Maintenance
Hardwood Flooring Installation
- When you have a professional install a tricky project like solid wood floors, you’re much more likely to be happier with the outcome, both in terms of the way it looks and how it holds up over the years.
- Limited installation. Being moisture prone, hardwood floors must be installed over a plywood subfloor at or above ground level. Basement installation is not recommended.
- Hardwood is generally harder to install, almost always requiring a professional. You’ll need to do your homework and be sure you check references on the company/person you’re hiring to install your floors.
Laminate Flooring Installation
- Laminate flooring is easy to install, and homeowners can save money by going the DIY route.
- It is designed to be a floating floor and is built with special locking mechanisms to easily be inserted and “locked” in place.
- It can be installed below grade and doesn’t require any special subflooring. When installing in basements, a moisture barrier should be used.
- Laminate floors can have a strong odor due to their synthetic materials emitting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) post-installation, although stricter EPA guidelines have helped reduce VOC content in laminate flooring in recent years.
Hardwood Flooring Durability
- With proper care, hardwood floors can last 20 years at least, with some even surviving for over a century in historical homes.
- If they become damaged, they can be sanded down and refinished.
- Though hardwood is known for its durability in high-traffic areas, it doesn’t have unlimited ability to withstand water, heat, or humidity — conditions a kitchen is prone to.
- Depending on the variety of wood you choose for your floors, they aren’t as resistant to scratches, stains, and dents compared to laminate flooring
- Unfinished hardwood, especially, is prone to moisture damage and warping.
Laminate Flooring Durability
- Laminate’s protective top layer is resistant to scratches, stains, and dents, making it ideal for busy lifestyles.
- With proper care, laminate floors can last for 15 to 25 years.
- Unlike hardwood, once laminate begins looking shabby, the only option is to replace it. Refinishing isn’t an option for laminate floors.
Hardwood Flooring Maintenance
- Maintaining and keeping hardwood clean is easy. It only requires reapplication of wax or oil every 5 years or so.
- They can be refinished to restore their former beauty or give them a new look.
- Refinishing doesn’t come cheap. The average cost is between $600 to $3,500, depending on the quality and nature of the job.
- They can’t be cleaned with just water because of moisture sensitivity and need specific wood care products.
Laminate Flooring Maintenance
- They’re easy to clean. They generally don’t need special cleaning solution and can be mopped with water.
- They’re easy to maintain. They don’t need to be waxed, sanded or refinished.
- They are less likely to fade or change color from prolonged sun exposure.
- Because laminate floors are made from synthetic materials, you cannot refinish them. If they’re damaged, they must be replaced.
When you’ve weighed all the pros and cons of laminate floors vs. solid wood floors for your kitchen remodel project, what you decide is ultimately a matter of budget, lifestyle, and personal design preference. No matter which material you choose, if you hire a reputable contractor who’ll focus on craftmanship and quality, you’ll be certain to have beautiful floors that will last for years to come and add not only beauty, but value to your home.
We’re here to help! If you aren’t sure which material will work best for you and need help deciding, contact us to speak with one of our experienced designers. We can offer you advice or give you a free quote for your kitchen remodeling project. Call us at (650) 287-4202 or fill out our easy contact form.