How to choose between Hardwood or Laminate flooring.

Materials, installation and advantages of each option.

Laminate or Hardwood Flooring?

What is the difference?

One of the big questions when preparing the floorings for your new house or refurbishment is what to choose among the actual enormous amount of options available. It is not an easy decision, because if you make a mistake to change it can suppose a real headache. To make the right decision. To begin with, a distinction must be made between two groups: hardwood flooring and laminate flooring.

What are Hardwood floors?

The hardwood floor (or parquet) is a wooden floor with a top layer of a minimum thickness of 2.5 millimetres. It can be solid, made of a single piece of wood, but this is the most expensive option. The most commonly used, for price and versatility, is the multi-layer option.

Multi-layer hardwood flooring consists of:

1. Different layers of varnish

2. A layer of solid noble wood (minimum of 2.5mm thickness)

3. Core layer that can be of different materials (normally pressed wood chips) to provide stability to the floor.

4. Veneer base.

Hardwood Flooring 4 Layers

– Multilayer hardwood floor –

The difference, in addition to the price (the multilayer is cheaper because the variety of materials that can be used in the base makes it more competitive), is that solid wood floor can be refinished and sanded more times than a multilayer hardwood floor, which depends on the thickness of the top layer. However, the main characteristic of these floors is that they are basically made of natural wood.

What are Laminate floors?

Laminate floors consist of several layers (laminates) of different materials.

1. A transparent, wear-resistant top layer consisting of several layers of pressed melamine or other resins. It is finished with a relief that imitates the wood so that its texture is practically identical.

2. Printed photography of real wood.

3. Durable, stable and moisture-resistant high-density fiberboard.

4. Moisture-resistant reinforcing layer that balances the slats.

Laminate Floor Layers

– Laminate floor –

This floor cannot be sanded and varnished like a hardwood floor, but on the other hand, its hardness is greater than that of wood and it’s more resistant to humidity, scratches, stains and even fire. Laminate floors are cheaper than hardwood floors and the quality of their finishes makes them difficult to distinguish from natural wood floors. Their installation is usually floating and most manufacturers incorporate a ‘click’ system that makes their assembly very simple and quite fast. But, as we say, these floors are basically made of synthetic materials, it is a “wood imitation” finishing.

Each option has its advantages.

Aesthetics: When it comes to the final result, the hardwood floor usually looks better, especially if quality wood is used. However, the difference between hardwood and laminate is being thanks to the new imitations of wood that are used in these last ones.

In addition, laminate floorings show more versatility in design, as they can imitate different textures such as marble or even have different colours.

Maintenance: a laminate floor is clearly easier to maintain, as all you have to do is pass the mop, soaked in a soapy solution, to clean it. On the other hand, hardwood must be cleaned with specific products, it has to be re-sanded every so often and it is less resistant to knocks and scratches.

If you want a floor with few problems and an affordable price, you should bet on the platform. But if you prefer a more beautiful and natural floor, you must invest on a hardwood floor.

Floor installation systems:

Both hardwood and laminate flooring can be installed using one of these three installation systems, however, some are more likely  

  • On Batten system: This is the traditional way for installing natural wooden floors, usually for solid ones, where longboards are nailed one by one on wooden strips supported on the home floor. At the end of the installation, the boards are sanded and varnished with matt, satin or gloss varnishes, according to the customer’s choice. This installation system is always more cumbersome as it requires more work (although at present there are parquets ready to install and you no longer have to do it one by one).
  • Floating system: Used mostly for multilayered and laminated floors. It’s an easy and fast way of installing a new floor as all boards have a perimeter tongue-and-groove joint. It is supported on a surface of insulating polyurethane foam so that it remains “floating”.
  • Glued system: The glued flooring responds to a traditional laying system formed by solid wood planks that adhere to the flat floor levelled with special glues, allowing geometric figures to be formed. All the work is carried out “in situ”. Glued parquet avoids the hollow noise produced when stepping on the floating floorings, but on the other hand, it is more possible that humidity is produced.

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