Wood vs. Laminate

Totally.CluelessApril 8, 2014

It's been a while since I posted. My son is now almost 7 months old and I can start thinking about decorating again. :)

I've done some digging in our neighborhood. We spent 200K for our home. I have looked at 6 different recently built/on the market or recently purchased homes in our subdivision for a comparison. The ones with laminate flooring throughout the whole first floor and are priced anywhere from 15-25K more than our home. (Everything else was comparable size, counter tops, cabinet upgrades, number of bedrooms & bathrooms etc.)

We live in suburbia. There are no custom homes in our neighborhood. Price ranges from 130 (Town home) to 800K (crazy 5 story house with an elevator). It's 90% young families with multiple children and that's who I imagine will be the average buyer around here for a long time.

With multiple boys running around I want an indestructible floor. Would there be any benefit to upgrading to hardwood over installing wood laminate? I'm so torn!

Price is a major factor. I can't see home buyers around here being all 'OMG this one has hardwood and that one doesn't!" I haven't actually seen any new construction with hardwood floors. I stalk everything like a mad woman. :) There are 8 more houses going up but they aren't to the flooring stage yet.

IDK if it's relevant but our home appraised for about 20K over our closing price. We plan to stay here about 12 years, possibly more.

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I just bought a house with Laminate floors on the bottom floor. I'm pretty sure they're going to need to be replaced in the next five years.

They're almost all mdf/particleboard/etc under the laminate, and if it gets wet, it swells. All it takes is a wet dog lying on the floor, or a toddler spilling a drink behind the couch and not telling you, and you're tearing up chunks of floor that are swollen at the edge of each board.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone with rough kids.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 4:23PM
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I'm sure you'll get lots of feedback on this one-my sense is that your value is definitely tied to whatever the standard is where you live. Sounds like you are doing your homework and also sounds like for your area/type of home/price level, laminate is an acceptable option.

The two products, though often conflated as one category, are of course entirely unrelated. Hardwood (be it engineered, site finished etc) is made of wood, while laminate is a manmade plastic product that is basically photos of wood laminated with a protective cover.

That said, seems to me laminate has come a LONG way in the past few years. Some of it looks darn good. Some of it is almost, or even more expensive, than some hardwood.

If your area runs more to laminate and you find some good solid quality material, I say go for it. I put down laminate in my kitchen as a stopgap flooring until I could do HW and it was cheap, cheap, cheap. Imagine my surprise when that stuff held up brilliantly for quite a few more years than I'd expected I'd need it!

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 4:26PM
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The laminate I have seen around here isn't even the individual boards, it's the big sheets.

I had a friend mention tile that looks like hardwood. That's what she is currently putting in her home (which has a much higher price point than my home.)

What I really want is to install plastic sheeting and just hose the house down. Haaaaa!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 4:44PM
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Below is the laminate that our daughter imstalled in her home 4 years ago. It still looks brand new. She has 2 active kids and a big dog. Yes, laminate comes in individual boards. Its important to put the best underlayment under it. Hers sounds and looks like hardwood.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 5:05PM
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We really love our hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, and stairs. I couldn't bring myself to put it in the kitchen, though many people do without problems. After 13 years, our floors are showing some scratches, but they can be refinished. The only option with laminate is to replace.

We have 2 teenagers (7 years old when we put the floors in), and two large dogs. Most of the scratches in the floor did not come from the dogs or the kids!

I know a lot of people consider HW and laminate to be essentially the same - I am not one of them. If I was going to buy your house, I would choose it over all your neighbors with laminate!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 5:14PM
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we have Pergo Expressions laminate in our kitchen/family room. We have a large dog (90+ lbs) and a teenaged son. We have never had any problems with our laminate in ~10 years, and that includes the area near the dog's water dish that was often splashed with water, even though the water dish was on a mat.

In fact one of the designers who come to bid on my new master bath construction commented on how much she liked the floor - she didn't realize it was Pergo. (As someone else mentioned underlayment is key).

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Have you looked at vinyl planks that resemble hardwood?

I really dislike laminate as it does not feel like hardwood and often doesn't look much like it either. The vinyl planks feel more solid than laminate and look very much like hardwood.

Very easy care and practically indestructible.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 6:29PM
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If you have a Costco near, the Harmonic laminate floor is often on sale for $27 or so a box. They are 7 1/2" wide x 47 1/4 long x 5/16" thick plus it has a 1/16" built in underlay pad. They click together and are exstremley hardy. You get 22.09 sf a box.
I do like the look of a good quality wood floor better. However, I much prefer the easy upkeep of Harmonic. I do not like the look of cheap wood floors though, plus there is not enough wood atop some of the cheap stuff for a refinish job when the time comes.

In a nut shell I have been going through the same dilemma except my problems are the bedrooms. I have decided to do laminate in all bedrooms except the master where I will splurge on good quality wood. To me unless you get very good quality wood $$$$$ you can expect it all not to look great after a few years but either way wood floors are very expensive to refinish.

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Tue, Apr 8, 14 at 21:50

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I never liked laminate as it always sounds hollow and feels " unreal". I would consider vinyl though...either plank type or the super cushioned stuff like flexitech ... Warm soft and durable.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 8:38AM
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The vinyl sounds like a good option too!
I do want to mention that we just finished the two spare bedrooms in the Costco laminate as we had put it into sonâÂÂs townhome and like how well itâÂÂs holding up against barbells, hand weights and furniture scraped across it. We did our rooms a bit different and added a cork underlayment even though these planks have a built in underlay. The cork comes in big rolls and is sold at the big box stores. All you do is roll it out to size and cut with scissors. There is no hollow sound that can be associated with laminate and it feels good underfoot. One bedroom will be my art room so IâÂÂm happy with my choice. Paint drops or splatters can be pinged off with my finger nail.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:03AM
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we have mostly all wood on our 1st floor and an area of laminate in our finished basement... it is not a particularly high grade of laminate and has been in for 10 yrs and still looks good... always have had big dogs and boys. our wood floors, although i love them, are scratched- have been refinished once and are scratched again(the indented scratches- not through to the bare wood) mostly from our one dogs nails. if wood floors are not the norm for your area and if you are planning on staying in the house for as long as you are, i would put in the best looking easiest and most durable flooring as possible-- wood isn't the most durable, that's for sure! there are lots of great choices these days- and i wouldn't worry about resale at all if you plan to be in your house for as long 10+yrs!!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:14AM
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Another vote for vinyl plank flooring here. We had laminate put in our brand new home three years ago. It was pretty and did pretty well considering we have a zoo.

However, we had a plumbing accident due to something the builders neglected, and our flooring got soaked. The laminate swelled, buckled, and had to be replaced. It also spotted easily.

We switched to vinyl plank and couldn't be happier. It's much easier to clean, and heaven forbid, if there is ever another accident, the whole floor will not need to be replaced. If anything, we can just replace individual planks. It tolerates getting wet much better. Something to consider if you have kids, even if you don't have a plumbing accident.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 12:00PM
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Just saw Mannington's vinyl plank flooring in one of two model homes over the weekend~the 2nd model had real wood and I thought the vinyl looked better. It wasn't shiny , felt good underfoot, and the graining was realistic. I think it's called Adura. Check out their website. It comes in a variety of colors.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 12:26PM
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laminate is to construct from layers of something bonded together.

In other words, there is laminate and then there is laminate. I think most people think of the low end Pergo when they think of laminate but as maddielee posted, there is very beautiful and very expensive laminate.

You are right to do your homework. I saw a posting of the tile that mimicked wood and I wish I had that as I have hardwood and my sweet dog has just about ruined it in 5 short years (or actually her first year of life which was brand new when we got her). Love her, love my wood. Wish I had left the wood at the store until she was older. C'est la vie.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:13PM
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We have Adura. It is awesome.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:09PM
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Our vinyl plank flooring. You can see the grain pretty well in this photo. I think it looks like hardwood.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:16PM
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Betty, it's beautiful! Do you know the color/finish?

I have dark hand scraped, and like Patricia has said, dogs really can take a toll on hardwood. I'm hoping to downsize from my 2600+ sq ft home within the next couple of years, and although I want the *look* of wood, it doesn't have to be the real deal, just look it. Pergo and some of the others are just lacking.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:36PM
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Not intending to hijack the thread, but it is a related question. What is the repeat number for the vinyl planks? I assume it varies between brands, but could not get that information from the sites for two I checked. Are they typically high or low in number? I have some flooring areas where the planks may be a good choice, but for people like me that quickly pick up like patterns, a low number of patterns for the planks might be problematic.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Patty cakes, the "name" was just a number, which, of course, I've forgotten. If it had been name, I probably would have remembered. We picked it from some samples the builder brought to us.

Gyr Falcon, with the the type we have, I don't think you would see a pattern. It is individual planks, and I'm assuming they could be put down however anyone wanted them to be. Did I understand your question correctly?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 3:19PM
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I didn't even mention the dog! I had not considered the vinyl plank flooring but that may be a good option. I can put it everywhere, right? Kitchen, baths etc? I much rather have a floor that I can carry through the entire first floor. I feel like I could put that in the bedroom too (master is on the first floor) but I'm not sure I could carry wood look tile into the bedroom. It seems so hard.

The landing to the stairs turns into the kitchen. Right now the landing is carpet. Has anyone put the vinyl planks on a stair landing?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 9:52AM
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Yes, the repeat is how many different planks are in the named design. The pattern on your floor's planks do seem to be better than most, bettydee, with less distinct knots and cracks. There was one resort with a small bath where we worked/stayed, and the same board was used seven times in the 5'x6' space and another board was used five times. That bugged the heck out of me; I've been told other guests probably didn't even notice.lol

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 6:32PM
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I have laminate and just did an extension so installing engineered hardwood and replacing the laminate in the original part of the home with the hardwood. Our laminate was pretty good and most visitors thought it was wood. I can see a major difference in the wood. I have two small dogs (6 lbs) so no major damage to the laminate but any water leak will ruin it. I have noticed the engineered wood is easy to scratch, just like the laminate, but over time you can refinish it but you can't refinish laminate.

I recommend you stay away from bamboo. The installers push it as a green product but not necessarily true, as they are cutting down forests to replant with bamboo which grows faster and more $$ to be made. Get a LOT of samples are scratch them up. What will you be able to live with?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 5:13AM
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Bettydee..love the flooring. Do you know the company that
made it? Earthwerks or Mannington...like it because it is not so knotty. Like the color too. You stated just a number, do you remember that? Maybe the place where you purchased it would have it on file.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 6:57PM
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Bettydee..love the flooring. Do you know the company that
made it? Earthwerks or Mannington...like it because it is not so knotty. Like the color too. You stated just a number, do you remember that? Maybe the place where you purchased it would have it on file.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 6:59PM
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