Laminate flooring color tiles laying on hardwood flooring in Portland.

How Does Laminate Flooring Compare to Hardwood Flooring in Portland?

If you’re considering a home remodel or update, you’re probably looking into redoing your floors. Upgrading flooring can make all the difference in the feel of a home, and it adds a significant amount of value. In fact, if you choose hardwood floors, you can increase your home’s value by as much as 10 percent. No other flooring type matches the financial value of hardwood floors. But how does hardwood compare to laminate floors?

Laminate is becoming increasingly popular, but it doesn’t last as long. If you’re looking into flooring options in the Portland area, what is going to be the right fit for you? Is laminate the best choice, or is hardwood flooring in Portland going to ultimately be better?

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Even if you haven’t started your home remodel yet, you’ve seen it everywhere. You may know someone who used laminate or has been in a business with laminate flooring. Even with the prevalence of laminate flooring, however, you may not understand what laminate floors actually are. Laminate flooring is made from a composite material. They have three layers:

  1. Base layer. This is made of plywood or high-density fiberboard to give stability and strength.
  2. Image layer. This layer usually mimics the look of wood, but not always. There are many different options, such as stone, metal, tile, and so forth.
  3. Wear layer. This layer provides protection, makes the board hard, and contributes to durability.

What Is Hardwood Flooring?

It’s in the name so it’s easy to figure out what hardwood flooring is made of: wood. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The best hardwood floors are made from different types of wood, and those that are both readily available and extremely hard are going to be the best options for value and durability.

There are also engineered hardwood floors available. Engineered hardwood is frequently more stable, but this isn’t true for all hardwood choices. Because engineered hardwood has layers that are perpendicular to each other, it’s often stronger than solid hardwood and usually experiences less expansion and contraction, which allows for a tighter fit.

Differences Between Laminate and Hardwood

So the obvious difference is that they’re two different materials, but how do these different materials measure up to wear and tear?

Laminate Features

  • Cannot be refinished
  • Lasts about 10 years
  • Allows for DIY installation
  • More affordable
  • Made of thin fiberboard with an image
  • Best for radiant heating and pets
  • Has come a long way, but the “wood” image still doesn’t compare to the real thing

Hardwood Features

  • Can last a lifetime
  • Can be sanded and refinished many times
  • More expensive
  • Best if installed professional installed
  • 100% wood
  • Better resale value
  • Better appearance

Water- and Heat-Resistance

Although hardwood and laminate are both popular in kitchens because of their aesthetic appeal, neither is recommended for wet areas. Hardwood flooring can be damaged by standing water, and while laminate surfaces are very water- and stain-resistant, if water gets into the joints between the planks, swelling can occur that will damage the planks.

With winter comes dry air and heated homes, leading to wood flooring that loses some of the moisture it maintains otherwise. In these conditions, the hardwood shrinks as a result and ends up showing thin gaps between the wood planks. Thanks to advances in the heated floor industry, it’s still possible to have hardwood flooring installed over radiant heating. Finding a professional hardwood flooring company for this type of install is necessary. And it will give you peace of mind and confidence to know it’s done right.

Laminate experiences the same shrinking with cold weather and dry air. During the warm and humid months, laminate is prone to expand, which can give the floor a crowned look. As long as proper precautions are taken, however, laminate does well if installed over radiant heat.

Hardwood Installation vs. Laminate Installation

When it comes to installing hardwood or laminate, there are many similarities, but the methods are different.

Hardwood Installation

Before you can even start installing, hardwood floor planks should have about three weeks to acclimate. Once the subfloor has been prepped and leveled, it’s time to install.

A vapor barrier must be laid down when working with hardwood flooring. This helps prevent too much moisture from contacting the flooring so there isn’t rapid expansion. Taking this measure will prevent the wood from cupping.

Hardwood planks should be installed alternating seams for aesthetic reasons as well as to maintain the integrity of the floor. The hardwood planks are then stapled with either a flooring staple or a finish staple.

Laminate Installation

As with hardwood flooring, laminate planks also need some time to acclimate, and a subfloor must be prepped before installation can begin. After these steps, the moisture barrier can be added, and then installation of the planks can begin.

The biggest difference between installing hardwood and laminate is the tongue and groove feature for laminate planks. There’s no need to staple the planks into the subfloor. Instead, you slide the tongue part of the plank at an angle into the groove side and snap it in. This makes installation easier and quicker. With laminate planks, you also want to alternate the seams as you go, just as you do with the hardwood.

Choosing between laminate and hardwood flooring in Portland really comes down to what your preferences and priorities are. That’s why Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors is the perfect place to help with your home renovation. Our friendly and experienced team is dedicated to giving you the flooring you deserve.

We can help you decide what will best fit your needs, and help you reach your goals of increasing the value of your home. Whether you want to install new flooring or restore or repair your old flooring, we offer services to cover all of your needs. Installing hardwood flooring in Portland is our passion. We love that what we do brings joy to our customers for decades to come. For unparalleled craftsmanship for incredible hardwood flooring, call Wall 2 Wall Hardwood floors today.