Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring: Which Is Better? (2023)

Solid hardwood flooring is often regarded as the real deal, with laminate flooring occupying the next rung down as an inexpensive way to simulate the look of real hardwood flooring. Hardwood flooring—3/4-inch-thick boards of solid hardwood cut from a tree—is undoubtedly a quality material. But this does not mean that you should automatically discount laminate flooring. Solid hardwood floor and laminate flooring each have their own place, with their own unique set of values as well as challenges.

How to Install Laminate Flooring

Solid Hardwood vs. Laminate Flooring: Major Differences

Solid hardwood flooring, as the name suggests, is comprised of flooring boards that are solid hardwood material through and through. The boards, usually 3/4-inch thick, are generally milled with a smooth top surface and tongue-and-groove edges that interlock to hold the boards together. They are usually installed by blind-nailing the boards to the subfloor through the tongues along the edges of the boards. If the boards are unfinished, the floor is stained and varnished once the installation is complete. However, prefinished solid hardwood flooring is increasingly preferred.

Laminate flooring is manufactured by starting with a core layer of fiberboard made of wood byproducts. Over this is a design layer that is printed to resemble wood or other material. The design layer is protected by a clear, hard wear layer that offers good resistance to scratching and stains. Laminate flooring boards are relatively thin, 6 to 12 mm (1/4- to 1/2-inch) thick, and are manufactured with click-lock edges that snap together to secure the boards. This is a floating floor that requires no nailing or glue.

Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring: Which Is Better? (1)


Watch Now: Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Floor


Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring is a highly attractive, premium building material that has undeniable prestige. Even cheaper species of real hardwood (red or white oak) are usually more attractive than laminate's artificial premium species.

Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring: Which Is Better? (2)


From a distance, quality laminate flooring can look much like real wood. But at close inspection, people can almost always tell that laminate flooring is not real hardwood. Newer, top-quality laminates now have a more random repeat pattern and they integrate a surface grain texture to make the flooring even more realistic, but the mimicry is far from perfect.

Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring: Which Is Better? (3)

(Video) The Best Wood Flooring for Your Home | Vinyl Plank vs Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood vs Solid Wood

Best for Appearance: Solid Hardwood

No real debate here: Solid hardwood flooring is far more attractive than laminate flooring.

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Water and Heat Resistance

Solid Hardwood

Although popular in kitchens, solid hardwood is not recommended for wet areas, either. Solid hardwood flooring can be damaged by standing water and floods, and even installation against concrete slabs is frowned up (engineered hardwood flooring is a better choice in these situations). You can install hardwood flooring over radiant heating systems, but be aware that heating the wood too much will cause the boards to shrink and cause the joints to open up. Once the temperature lowers, the joints close up again.


Laminate surfaces are highly water- and stain-resistant, but water getting into the joints between planks can cause the edges and the fiberboard core to swell and chip. It is not recommended in wet areas, such as bathrooms. Laminate flooring has enough heat resistance that it can be installed over radiant heating systems.

Best for Water and Heat Resistance: Laminate

Neither laminate nor solid hardwood flooring are ideal flooring materials for truly wet locations, but laminate is somewhat better for humid locations, such as installation against concrete slabs. Laminate flooring also has some advantage when it comes to heat resistance.

(Video) Should You Choose Laminate or Hardwood?

Care and Cleaning

Solid Hardwood

Cleaning of a solid hardwood floor is simple: sweeping or vacuuming, and damp-mopping with a wood cleaner. Today's wood floors are sealed with polyurethane varnish, and they should never be polished or waxed.

Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring: Which Is Better? (4)


Laminate floors are easily cleaned with a vacuum or broom. Mopping should be done with a damp mop moistened with a laminate floor cleaner. No waxing is ever necessary. Avoid excessive water and never clean with a steam cleaner.

Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring: Which Is Better? (5)

Best for Care and Cleaning: Tie

Both flooring materials are easy to care for.

Durability and Maintenance

Solid Hardwood

Hardwood flooring can last a lifetime—or even longer. Unusual circumstances, though, likeflooding,can render a hardwood floor worthless if rescue attempts come too late. Hardwood likely will need to be recoated or refinished periodically, depending on wear and care. Periodic resealing is recommended, and when the damage becomes severe, the floor can be sanded down and refinished. This should be done by professionals since there are a limited number of times a hardwood floor can be resanded. Most floors wear down after three or four sandings, so use discretion when choosing this method.


Laminate flooring has moderately good resistance to damage from impact. If an object is heavy enough and hits laminate with sufficient force, the floor will be gouged or dented. Expect 10 years of use, maximum. Hazards that shorten the lifespan of laminate include water infiltration, scratches from chair legs, and even UV rays. Laminate flooring cannot be refinished or sanded. When it is ruined, replacement is the only cure.

Best for Durability and Maintenance: Solid Hardwood

Hardwood floors come out well on top when it comes to durability. Hardwood and laminate are roughly equal when it comes to maintenance.


Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood is difficult for non-professionals to install. Rental of special tools such as a floor nailer or stapler is required. Unfinished flooring must be sanded and finished after the planks are installed; the sanding and finishing is a job for professionals. Prefinished hardwood flooring does not need to be finished after it is installed.


Laminate flooring is very easy to install, making it a favorite for DIYers. The planks click together at the edges, and there is no need for fasteners or glue since this is a flooring that floats over a thin layer of foam underlayment. While laminate flooringcan beinstalled below grade, it is still not the best flooring forbasements.

Best for Installation: Laminate

Here is where laminate has a clear advantage—this is a far, far easier flooring for DIYers to install.


Solid Hardwood

The range for solid hardwood flooring is $4 to $8 per square foot. Common hardwoods like oak, maple, and ash go for $4 to $7 per square foot, with more unique species commanding higher prices. Wider-format plank flooring of the same species and narrower flooring of unique species go for at least $5 per square foot, with prices steeply escalating after that.


Laminate flooring typically costs $1 to $3 per square foot. Designer flooring selling for as much as $10 to $12 per square foot is also available. Thicker wear layers are what distinguish the better, more expensive products.

Best for Cost: Laminate

Laminate flooring can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of solid hardwood flooring. The savings become even greater if you install the flooring yourself.

(Video) Vinyl Plank vs Laminate vs Engineered Hardwood


Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood floors can routinely last 100 years with proper care and refinishing.


Laminate floors average about 15 to 25 years of life.

Best for Lifespan: Solid Hardwood

Laminate floors have a considerably shorter life than solid hardwood flooring. As discussed above, solid hardwood floors can be refinished several times before needing to be replaced, drastically extending the lifetime of the floors.


Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring is typically sold in 1 1/2-inch or 2 1/4-inch-wide boards that are 48 inches long, though wide-plank forms up to 6 inches wide or more are also available. The boards are almost always 3/4 inch thick.


Laminate flooring generally comes in planks 4 inches wide or more and about 48 inches long. The thickness of the planks ranges from 6 to 12 mm, depending on the quality of the product.

Best for Sizes: Tie

There is no advantage to the sizing standards of one flooring over the other.

Resale Value

Solid Hardwood

Hardwood flooring nearly always adds real good estate value if it is in decent shape. It ranks with high-quality porcelain or natural stone tile as a premium flooring material.


Laminate flooring rarely adds real estate value to a home, although it is certainly better than a shabby carpet or vinyl floor.

Best for Resale Value: Solid Hardwood

Hardwood floors will always impress real estate professionals and potential buyers, provided the floor is well cared for.

Comfort and Sound

Solid Hardwood

Hardwood floors tend to be hard underfoot, and they can be a bit noisy under heels and pet toenails. These are very solid floors, though they normally do not adapt to radiant heating systems.


Laminate flooring is generally somewhat soft underfoot since it is installed over a foam underlayment. But as a floating floor, it can sometimes flex underfoot unless the subfloor is perfectly flat. And the hard plastic surface can telegraph the clicks of shoe heels and pet toenails. Laminate flooring can be installed over radiant heating systems to create a warmer, cozier floor.

Best for Comfort and Sound: Laminate

Both flooring materials have roughly the same characteristics, but some people find that laminate flooring is somewhat more comfortable.

The Verdict

If authenticity, resale value, and durability are what is most important, then choose solid hardwood flooring. But laminate flooring can be a viable option where your budget is limited, or where you want to install the flooring yourself. Laminate flooring will never pass for real hardwood to the discerning eye, but it can be a serviceable flooring for many situations. Still, if your goal is to add value to your home, solid hardwood flooring is the best investment.

Top Brands

Several national brands offer both laminate flooring and solid hardwood:

  • Bruce, once owned by Armstrong, is now owned by AIP (American Industrial Partners). The company offers laminate flooring as well as solid and engineered hardwood. Its products are widely available at home improvement centers.
  • Shaw FlooringShaw Flooring offers many flooring projects, ranging from bargain laminates to quite expensive solid hardwoods. Its products are sold mostly at specialty flooring stores. Its laminate flooring is sold principally at big-box home improvement centers.
  • Mohawk: This company offers both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood (called TecWood), as well as a broad selection of wood-look laminates, which is marketed as RevWood.


(Video) What Kind of Flooring Should I Get? Laminate, Vinyl Plank, Composite Wood or Real Hardwood?

  • What lasts longer: hardwood or laminate?

    Hardwood floors typically last much longer than laminate, though they do need occasional refinishing. It’s also usually easier to repair a hardwood floor, often with some sanding and staining, whereas damaged laminate might need to be replaced altogether.

  • What costs more: hardwood or laminate?

    Hardwood flooring almost always costs more to install than laminate. But depending on how long you live in your home, you might save money in the long run because hardwoods have a much longer lifespan.

  • Can you tell the difference between laminate and hardwood?

    Laminate flooring has a repeating pattern whereas hardwood boards are unique. Thus, it is possible to spot a laminate floor due to its pattern. But high-end laminates have been crafted to mimic the random quality of real wood, so it sometimes can be difficult to tell the difference.


Which floor is better hardwood or laminate? ›

Hardwood floors typically last much longer than laminate, though they do need occasional refinishing. It's also usually easier to repair a hardwood floor, often with some sanding and staining, whereas damaged laminate might need to be replaced altogether.

How do I choose between hardwood and laminate? ›

Hardwood is more expensive and requires a lot of maintenance, but it looks incredible since it's solid wood. Laminate flooring is synthetic, making it more affordable, and it's also more durable than hardwood. That said, hardwood is forever (if cared for properly) and laminate may need to be replaced in 25 to 30 years.

Which is more durable wood or laminate? ›

Hardwood floors can last much longer than laminate, which is typically limited to a lifespan of between 15 and 25 years. That said, hardwood flooring will usually show wear and tear more much quickly than laminate due to its susceptibility to scratches, dents, and discolorations.

Is laminate flooring as good as wood? ›

Durable Hardwood Looks

Laminate flooring is a great choice if you want a high end hardwood look but need something more durable for pets and kids. Laminate is a much better choice against scratches and dents. It is also much more affordable than hardwood.

What is the most durable flooring put in the house? ›

Tile is the highest-rated flooring among the categories we test,” says Enrique de Paz, who leads flooring testing at Consumer Reports. “It doesn't wear out, scratch, or stain. Its color doesn't fade, it's waterproof, and it is surprisingly slip-resistant, even when wet.

Should I go with laminate or engineered hardwood? ›

Engineered flooring is somewhat closer in appearance to solid hardwood due to its real wood veneer. Laminate flooring, though all synthetic, is a close visual simulation of real wood. Additionally, it is far easier to install than engineered hardwood flooring, making it a good do-it-yourself floor covering choice.

What flooring is better than laminate? ›

Vinyl flooring clearly is a better choice in high-moisture environments than laminate flooring, making it an excellent choice in bathrooms.

Is it cheaper to install hardwood or laminate? ›

On the plus side, laminate is easy to clean, scratch-resistant, and can be installed in places where natural wood can't go. And though it doesn't last as long as hardwood, it costs 50% less on average to buy and install.

What flooring is better than hardwood? ›

Engineered wood flooring is a better choice in high-moisture environments than solid hardwood, making it a better option for kitchens, bathrooms and basements. But, for whole-house installations, both flooring options offer a wide range of style choices.

What type of floor is best? ›

The 9 Best Flooring Options for Your Home
  • Solid wood flooring confers warmth and authenticity. ...
  • Laminate flooring adheres easily to subfloors. ...
  • Luxury vinyl tiles are hard to tell apart from real wood. ...
  • Carpet softens any room, in the color of your choice. ...
  • Stone flooring can add value to your home.
Aug 12, 2022

Can I mop laminate flooring? ›

Do (carefully) mop your laminate floor every two months. To keep your laminate floors fresh, mop them every two months. Damp mops (a.k.a. microfiber mops) are gentle enough to use on laminate floors. If you're going to use a regular mop, just wring it out until it's almost completely dry.

Where should you not put laminate flooring? ›

Because the inner core of the material is made with wood or fiberboard that is susceptible to moisture damage, installations in any room with a floor drain or sump pump should be avoided. This also applies to bathrooms and laundry rooms; however, kitchen installation is more feasible.

How many years does laminate flooring last? ›

Laminate flooring lasts between 15 to 25 years on average. The exact lifespan will vary depending on the product quality of your floor, how well you maintain and care for it and the overall wear-and-tear it receives. In some cases, laminate floors can last over 25 years.

Is laminate easier to maintain than hardwood? ›

Hardwood comes with a higher price tag, but they are easier to repair and last longer than laminate. Laminate flooring pros and cons include that it doesn't fade or scratch as easily as hardwood, but repairs may involve redoing the whole floor.

Can you steam mop laminate floors? ›

The short answer is no. None of the laminate flooring manufacturers recommend using a steam mop on laminate surfaces. The moisture released from the steam mop can loosen the layers of the laminate, making it tougher to use and potentially damaging your floor.

Does laminate flooring chip easily? ›

The short answer is that there isn't any laminate flooring on the market that's totally scratch proof. It's just a fact that any flooring material, from natural wood to engineered timber or hybrid flooring, can be damaged. However, there are a few factors that will determine how resistant your laminate is to damage.

What is the most popular flooring in homes today 2022? ›

Finally, Vinyl and wood floors are seemingly the front runners for 2022 flooring top trends but, that doesn't mean carpet flooring won't make an appearance. Area rugs, carpet tiles, and frieze carpets are sure to be among the most popular styles this year.

What is best flooring for standing all day? ›

Best Flooring for Your Feet and Joint Pain
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is softer than many hard-surface floors and easy to clean. ...
  • Laminate: Laminate is softer and has more “give” compared to wood and tile. ...
  • Carpet: Carpet is soft and plush underfoot, especially if you choose a thicker type that allows your feet to sink in.

What's more expensive engineered hardwood or laminate? ›

Laminate flooring generally is less expensive than engineered hardwood.

Does engineered hardwood decrease home value? ›

Engineered hardwood floors do not need to be refinished and maintained the way authentic hardwood does over time. At the same time, they offer the same look as authentic hardwood, increasing the value of your home at a fraction of the cost.

What is the cost difference between engineered hardwood and laminate? ›

For engineered hardwoods you should budget to spend about $6 – $10/square foot or you can find some cheaper options under $5/square foot, excluding installation costs. If that is a little too high for your budget then laminates can be found for $2 – $3/square foot excluding installation.

What is the healthiest flooring to install? ›

Solid hardwood flooring is considered the safest and least toxic option as it's completely natural and free from any toxins. Solid hardwood floors are made of planks milled from a single piece of timber, which makes it a healthy flooring option.

Is laminate flooring outdated? ›

Laminate flooring trends have maintained their status as the staple go-to wood flooring alternative for residential use. Tremendous advancements are being made in flooring technology, allowing the best laminate flooring to resemble solid hardwood more closely than ever before.

What is the best flooring for house value? ›

You may have already guessed it, but the floor with the highest resale value is hardwood. Since hardwood is always in demand, it is an easy choice to up level your home.

Does laminate decrease home value? ›

Whether laminate will increase or decrease a home's value will also depend on what flooring was there before. If the laminate replaces old, worn carpet or sheet vinyl, you could see a value boost.

Does laminate flooring increase property value? ›

Yes, they can. If your current floors are old and falling apart, then almost any flooring is going to increase its value. However, in general, laminate floorings are not going to give you as high an ROI as hardwoods. That doesn't mean that laminate floors aren't worth it.

What type of flooring do home buyers prefer? ›

Hard surface flooring will give you the best return on investment, or ROI. Hardwood will be your best bet with the highest ROI since it's the long-standing preferred flooring choice. If you currently have hardwood floors, consider refinishing them if they need a little pick me up.

What flooring is the least maintenance? ›

Vinyl flooring is easy to maintain and requires no special care or maintenance. This is another floor covering that would enable you to trash the vacuum, as regular sweeping will be enough to keep your vinyl flooring looking just like new.

What is the most durable flooring that looks like wood? ›

Luxury vinyl is also highly durable and affordable, making it one of the best wood-look alternatives on the market. LVP floors come in a variety of colors, with expansive selections ranging from light to dark.

Which floor lasts the longest? ›

Porcelain and ceramic are some of the longest lasting flooring materials available, and they require little maintenance. Tile flooring is also moisture resistant, making it the perfect choice for areas where spills are common like bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Which floor is easiest to maintain? ›

Vinyl flooring is probably the easiest to clean out of all the options listed here and also one of the easiest to maintain. Also known as Cushion Floor, vinyl flooring is available at a good price and can take plenty of wear over the years, which is why many will come with a 15 year warrantee.

What is the most luxurious flooring? ›

8 High-End Flooring Options for Luxury Homes
  1. Natural Stone Flooring. There is no discussion of luxury flooring without talking about natural stone. ...
  2. Exotic Hardwood Flooring. ...
  3. Designer Ceramic Floor Tiles. ...
  4. Hand-Scraped Wood Flooring. ...
  5. Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring. ...
  6. Luxury Vinyl Tiles or Planks. ...
  7. Cork Flooring. ...
  8. Bamboo Flooring.
Jul 1, 2022

When should you not install hardwood floors? ›

Replacing your flooring in the winter may be tempting. However, winter is one of the worst times of year to install hardwood floors. No matter which part of the United States you call home, winter is the driest time of year. The air naturally has less moisture during the winter than in other seasons.

When did homes stop using hardwood floors? ›

Hardwood floors were the norm in most homes before WWII. The design of the home didn't matter—Victorian, Colonial, Cape Cod, Tudor, Craftsman, and even early Ranches—they all featured wood floors throughout. Then starting in the 1950s, homeowners started to favor wall-to-wall carpet instead.

When did they stop putting hardwood floors in homes? ›

In fact the early mid mod period (late 40's – early 50's) is about the last time that hardwood floors were common in builder grade houses.

Can I vacuum laminate? ›

It's OK to sweep or vacuum your laminate floor as long as you don't vacuum with a beater brush.

Should you use vinegar on laminate flooring? ›

Yes, it is safe to clean most laminate floors with a solution of vinegar and water, which is yet another reason to love vinegar! Mix 1 cup household vinegar with 1 gallon warm water. Use a slightly damp mop. Do not overwet the floor — water is laminate floors' enemy, as it can cause water spots or even warping.

Why are my laminate floors still dirty after mopping? ›

Streaks. One of the biggest complaints about laminate floors is that the floors are streaky even after mopping. To remedy this, try a different cleaner or use less cleaner. Remember, water and a tiny bit of glass cleaner is more than enough to get the floors clean.

Why are laminate floors so noisy? ›

Laminate flooring will snap and pop as you walk on it if it's bridging across hollow spots under the flooring. Your weight stresses the interlocking tongues and grooves in the flooring, causing the noise. It's nearly impossible to stop this noise after a laminate floor is installed.

How can you tell if laminate flooring is good quality? ›

Good-quality laminate floorboards should lock together seamlessly and create a flat surface – if the edges seem rough or uneven it may cause installation issues, so look for a precision-machined edge.

Can a toilet sit on laminate flooring? ›

Start With The Flooring

Because laminate flooring floats above the sub-floor on top of underlayment, it will expand and contract slightly with the temperature and humidity of the room. This makes it impossible for any caulking around the base of the sink and toilet to hold.

Which lasts longer laminate or hardwood? ›

Hardwood floors typically last much longer than laminate, though they do need occasional refinishing. It's also usually easier to repair a hardwood floor, often with some sanding and staining, whereas damaged laminate might need to be replaced altogether.

Can you tell the difference between hardwood and laminate? ›

Laminate flooring will have a repeating pattern. It may not be obvious right away, but that's only because you're not looking for it. If you stare long enough, you will likely find boards with the same wood grain. Hardwood flooring is made from solid wood, so every board will be different.

What is the best flooring to put down? ›

The 9 Best Flooring Options for Your Home
  • Solid wood flooring confers warmth and authenticity. ...
  • Laminate flooring adheres easily to subfloors. ...
  • Luxury vinyl tiles are hard to tell apart from real wood. ...
  • Carpet softens any room, in the color of your choice. ...
  • Stone flooring can add value to your home.
Aug 12, 2022

What type of flooring lasts the longest? ›

Porcelain and ceramic are some of the longest lasting flooring materials available, and they require little maintenance. Tile flooring is also moisture resistant, making it the perfect choice for areas where spills are common like bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

What is the most desirable flooring? ›

Tile. Tile is the most obvious choice for kitchens and bathrooms, as it is naturally waterproof and fairly indestructible. Some tile trends include realistic stone or wood looks. New homes tend to include timeless looks like marble, limestone, or slate.

What is the trend for flooring in 2022? ›

Without a doubt, the number one flooring trend of 2022 is natural and raw-looking flooring. 2022 will see a rise in neutral colors and patterns moving back toward more raw and natural-looking materials. Natural-looking floors create the perfect backdrop for any room and help balance your space.

Should the flooring in your house all be the same? ›

There is absolutely no need to change flooring from room to room. We often work with homeowners who feel the urge to pick a different flooring for every room of their home, but there is absolutely no need to do this. Your home will look best if you create one consistent look that travels from room to room.

Should floors be darker or lighter than walls? ›

Many home experts agree that the floor color should be darker than the walls. The rule generally applies because lighter walls and a dark floor make the room seem larger. Most homeowners prefer a spacious looking interior.

What flooring will not go out of style? ›

Hardwood floors work with almost any style — year in, year out. Given that flooring is the biggest expanse of product you'll see in your new space, designer Christina Fluegge of Greige Design recommends going with a high-quality hardwood that allows you to refinish as time goes by rather than having to replace.

What type of flooring do rich people have? ›

Natural Stone Flooring

A natural stone floor is one of the most opulent high-end flooring because of its naturally shiny appearance. Marble is a popular choice for people who want to bring that palace feel to their foyer. It is a premium feature of many high-class homes and brings a bit of whimsy to a space.

What color hardwood floor is best for resale 2022? ›

If you are looking for whatever is most popular and least likely to become outdated, then going with more natural is always a safe bet. For 2022, the choice is definitely something in the greige family.

What color floors are in style for 2022? ›

Color and cool tones also make the list of flooring trends in 2022. Green, blue, dark brown, ashy white, and gray add to an airy feel in the home and leave so much to the imagination because of the options in flooring colors. Gray is the most popular when it comes to flooring colors.


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