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The Differences Between Hardwood vs Laminate Floors

When it comes to flooring options for your home, hardwood and laminate are two popular choices that offer their own unique benefits and drawbacks. But how do you know which one is the right choice for you? We'll take a look at the key differences between hardwood and laminate flooring to help you make an informed decision.


photo of the difference between laminate and hardwood floors

Hardwood flooring is made from solid wood, which is milled from trees. It is available in a variety of wood species, including oak, maple, and cherry, each of which has its own distinct grain pattern and colour. Hardwood floors can be stained or finished in a range of colours and finishes, including glossy, matte, and satin.

Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is made from layers of fiberboard that are topped with a photograph of the wood grain. The top layer is then sealed with a clear protective layer. Laminate flooring is available in a wide range of colours and styles, including imitations of various wood species.

In terms of appearance, hardwood flooring tends to look more natural and authentic, as it is made from real wood. It also has a more luxurious and high-end look due to its durability and the range of finishes available. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, can look more synthetic and artificial, as it is made from fiberboard and a photograph of the wood grain. It also tends to look less expensive up close than hardwood, although it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two at a distance.


durability of hardwood vs laminate flooring

Hardwood flooring is known for its durability and longevity. It can last for decades with proper care, and it can be sanded down and refinished several times to restore its original appearance. Hardwood flooring is resistant to wear and tear, and to scratching and denting. However, it is prone to moisture damage, so it is not suitable for areas with high humidity or for use in basements.

On the other hand, laminate flooring is not as durable. A laminate floor is resistant to scratching and denting, but it is prone to moisture damage and can swell or warp if it is exposed to water. It is not as scratch-resistant as hardwood, and it cannot be sanded or refinished.

In terms of durability over time, hardwood flooring is generally more durable than laminate flooring. However, laminate flooring has improved significantly in recent years and can now be a good choice for areas with moderate foot traffic. If you are looking for a flooring option that will last for many years and can withstand heavy use, hardwood may be the better choice.

Maintenance & Cleaning:

cleaning hardwood vs laminate flooring

To maintain hardwood floors, it is essential to sweep or vacuum regularly to remove dirt and debris. Hardwood floors can be sensitive to certain cleaning products and methods, so it is important to be careful when choosing a cleaner. Some hardwood cleaners can be abrasive or contain ingredients that can strip the finish or damage the wood. To prolong the life of hardwood floors, it is a good idea to use a cleaner specifically designed for hardwood and to avoid using excessive amounts of water or allowing water to sit on the floor for too long. For hardwood floors, you should avoid using cleaning products containing oil or wax, as these can build up and cause the floor to become slippery. In terms of refinishing, hardwood flooring can be sanded down and refinished several times over the course of its lifetime. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, cannot be sanded or refinished. If it becomes damaged, it will need to be replaced.

Laminate flooring is more resistant to moisture than hardwood, but it is still important to be careful when cleaning. Some laminate cleaners can be abrasive or contain ingredients that can dull the finish or cause the edges to swell. To prolong the life of laminate floors, we recommend using a product specifically designed for laminate and to avoid using excessive amounts of water or allowing water to sit on the floor for too long.

There are also some general tips to consider when trying to prolong the life of hardwood and laminate floors. For both types of flooring, it is a good idea to use mats or rugs at entrances and in high-traffic areas to help reduce the amount of dirt and debris that is tracked onto the floor. Placing furniture pads under the legs can also help protect the floor from scratches and dents.


installing laminate vs hardwood flooring

Installing hardwood flooring can be a complex process that requires some skill and experience. Hardwood flooring must be installed on a smooth, level surface, and it is important to leave a small expansion gap around the perimeter of the room to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the wood. Additionally, hardwood flooring must be acclimated to the room where it will be installed, meaning it must be left to sit in the room for several days before installation to ensure that it is at the same temperature and humidity level as the room.

Laminate flooring is generally easier to install than hardwood flooring. It is designed to be a floating floor, meaning it is not nailed or glued to the subfloor. Instead, it is installed by clicking the planks together, making it a relatively simple process that can be done by most DIYers.


does hardwood cost more than laminate floors? invoice photo

Hardwood flooring tends to be more expensive than laminate, but it also has a higher resale value. The cost of hardwood flooring depends on the type of wood and the quality of the product. Solid hardwood flooring can range in price from $6 to $18 per square foot, while engineered hardwood ranges from $6 to $16 per square foot. It also tends to have a higher installation cost.

Laminate is seen more as a budget-friendly alternative to hardwood, with prices ranging from $3 to $8 per square foot. If cost is a major factor in your decision, laminate flooring may be the better choice. However, if you want a premium flooring option that will add value to your home, hardwood flooring may be worth the investment.

Environmental Impact:

laminate flooring scraps

One of the main environmental differences between a hardwood and laminate floor is the materials used to make them. Hardwood flooring is made from natural wood, which is a renewable resource that can be sustainably harvested. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is made from composite materials, some of which are not renewable and may not be as environmentally friendly.

Another environmental difference between hardwood and laminate is their durability. Hardwood flooring is known for its longevity and can last for many years with proper care. Laminate flooring is also durable, but it may not last as long as hardwood and may need to be replaced more frequently.

In terms of installation, hardwood flooring often requires the use of adhesives, which can have negative environmental impacts. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is typically installed using a "floating floor" method, which does not require the use of adhesives. Overall, both hardwood and laminate flooring have their own environmental pros and cons.


In conclusion, when comparing hardwood vs laminate flooring, both have their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the choice between hardwood and laminate will depend on your personal preferences and budget. If you have a tough time deciding which flooring type is right for you, here are a few of our favourites!

Mannington Flooring – Laminate:

Mercier Flooring – Hardwood

Still need help? No problem! Our team answers your questions and helps you choose a flooring type that’ll fit your lifestyle. As a hardwood and laminate flooring Canada supplier, we welcome you to start the conversation so we can discuss your needs and show you our best flooring samples!

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