5 Reasons why Solid Wood Flooring is better than Laminate
If you’re investing in a new floor and want a surface that has the look and feel of traditional wood, your two main choices will be between real or engineered wood flooring and laminate flooring. If you’ve never had to make this choice before, it’s easy to think they are similar, when in fact there are big differences in terms of quality and longevity.
Laminate flooring is an entirely synthetic product that has been designed to mimic the look of real wood. The core layer is usually manufactured from fibreboard and melamine resin. The top layer is then printed with an image that is supposed to look like real wood. However, even the best quality laminate is easily distinguished from a genuine wood floor and doesn’t have the same unique natural qualities.
Solid and engineered wood flooring is either entirely or partly made from real wood. Solid hardwood flooring is produced from single pieces of wood, which are purchased finished or can be finished after being laid.
Engineered wood flooring generally consists of several layers of plywood which is topped with a single piece of solid wood. Because it has many layers, engineered wood flooring is stable and less prone to shrinking or warping due to changes in temperature or humidity. And because it is topped with real wood, it looks just as natural as a solid wood floor.
So, why is solid wood flooring better than laminate?
It looks better
There’s simply no getting away from the fact that real wood looks much better than laminate, so if aesthetics are a big part of your choice then this should make it a no brainer. Real wood has a huge amount of texture and detail, meaning every board is unique. No two planks are alike, offering an incredibly attractive floor with a beautiful, natural look. This is true for both solid and engineered wood floors as, although engineered wood isn’t made of a single board, it has a top layer made of real, natural wood.
Laminate, on the other hand, can’t hope to compete. Pre-designed patterns are designed to imitate the look of real wood and printed onto the boards. However, the endless uniqueness of the natural world can’t be replicated so an identical pattern is repeated every five boards on average. However expensive the laminate is, it will never look as good as the real thing.
It’s more durable
If you choose to have a solid or engineered wood floor fitted, it will last longer than a laminate floor. This is because solid and engineered wood can be sanded back multiple times to look just as good as new once again. If a laminate floor becomes worn, scratched and scuffed, as it is bound to do, it can’t be sanded but ultimately needs to be replaced. However, solid and engineered wood floors can be sanded and refinished to get rid of any signs of wear and tear.
As described above, laminate flooring usually has an unnaturally ‘uniform’ look which will highlight any marks, whereas real wood has plenty of unique character and natural graining which will camouflage most scratches. Once laminate flooring is damaged, it’s damaged for good.
Solid hardwood floors can’t help but be 100% organic as they’re made from single pieces of natural wood. Engineered wood is usually also mostly organic as it’s made from several layers of plywood topped with a piece of real wood. Laminate is a different story because it’s made by bonding various composite materials, such as fibreboard, with melamine resin. Large volumes of glue are used during manufacture to bond the materials, the contents of which can be questionable. Cheaper glues can include harmful substances such as formaldehyde, which can continue to emit noxious substances into the air, even after being installed in your home.
If you’re concerned about how eco-friendly your solid wood floor is, choose one made from reclaimed boards or find a supplier that has been awarded the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate. This means that every process and person that the flooring goes through, from farmer to manufacturer to deliverer, has been checked to make sure they are treating the environment responsibly.
It’s easy to repair
Laminate flooring is hard to repair. If the floor has been glued down it’s difficult to remove boards for replacement without damaging larger sections. Even if you do manage to remove planks and replace them it is unlikely that the new sections will match the existing floor due to differences in sun exposure and wear levels.
Solid and engineered wood flooring is much easier to successfully repair. If a large section of the floor is damaged, the whole surface can be sanded back and refinished. If it’s just a small area, that part can be spot finished by sanding it back and re-oiling or staining it so that it matches the rest of the floor.
Compared to solid or engineered wood flooring, laminate has a relatively short lifespan. On average, a laminate floor will need to be replaced after 20 years, which is the length of time it will take a family to wear down the finish of the floor. Since laminate floors can’t be refinished, wear and tear will eventually break down the surface of the floor completely, even if you do your best to take good care of it.
However, solid and engineered wood floors can last between 40 and 80 years if they are well looked after. Once the existing finish has been worn down the boards can be sanded back and refinished around 6-8 times for solid boards and up to 4 times for good quality engineered ones. When the time comes the boards can be easily disposed of or recycled.
Whilst laminate may seem like an attractive option because it’s a bit less expensive, solid or engineered wood flooring will always be the superior choice. It looks better, lasts longer, is better for the environment and can be made to look as good as new again and again. Cheap laminate is a false economy, whereas solid or engineered wood will pay you back with plenty of wear and aesthetic pleasure for years to come.