Today homeowners have many more choices when looking to buy a hardwood floor for their home. Thanks to advancements in flooring technologies homeowners have the option of buying a real hardwood floor, a laminate floor or even a resilient floor with a wood visual appearance. The difference being that both laminate flooring and vinyl flooring rely on a digital photograph of a real wood plank or tile to give the appearance of real hardwood plank flooring when installed.
Over the years the flooring technology has improved dramatically allowing flooring manufacturers today to be able to take a digitized photograph of an existing floor and apply it to a special backing material and then layering a protective wear surface over the top. The benefit of this process is laminate flooring can duplicate any wood plank with tremendous realism, including old historic wood flooring while keeping the costs down to the consumer.
So which floor should you choose? The answer lies in understanding the pros and cons of hardwood flooring versus laminate flooring as it pertains to where the floor will be installed, your expectations, budget and lifestyle. Also, not all hardwood flooring qualities and laminate flooring styles are the same in durability, price, recommended applications, or performance. For example: ¾" solid wood flooring is not recommended to be installed over concrete slabs or below-grade basements.
Also, keep in mind the less costly laminate flooring will not have the true realism of real hardwood, the texture of wood, nor the durability that the more expensive laminates will have. This also holds true with hardwood flooring. Better performing hardwood floors with more styling and better finishes will cost you more.
Because hardwood floors are a natural product they are more susceptible to fading from UV sunlight, whereas a laminate floor will not fade from sunlight. Area rugs and walk-off mats may cause discoloration with a hardwood floor but not with laminate flooring. For hardwood flooring use mats and rug pads with non-staining backings.