Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Low-Down on Laminate Flooring

Let's say you have a few rooms in your house that need new flooring. You don't want to deal with tile, and carpet is out-of-the-question.

What do you go with? Laminate or wood?

We were faced with this very same dilemma when redoing our living room, kitchen and dining area. After some extensive research, we made our decision. Here's what we found out about laminate:

Laminate Flooring Perks:

  • It's super-sturdy. We've dropped tons of drywall, nails, hammers, plates, dishes (and we also have a dog) and the stuff hasn't even gotten a dent.
  • It looks real. Everyone who comes over thinks it's real wood. Thanks to being laid overtop of real old wood floors (too damaged and too costly to refinish), it even creaks a bit like real wood. Score.
  • Thanks to the thick padding underneath, it doesn't have that high-pitched "tink tink" noise when you walk across it.
  • We managed to find some high-quality laminate (aka, the grooves in the laminate match the dark grain so it looks real) for the price of low-quality laminate.
  • The price: To put it in our living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway and hall closet, it ran us 900$. Total.
  • We were able to easily install it ourselves. Our labor expense: 0$ (unless you count pizza and beer, that is!).
  • The laminate is guaranteed to last for years (ours is 25 years), and never needs refinishing.
  • Since it's a floating floor (aka, not screwed down into the floor beneath), if we ever want to take it out for whatever reason, it'll be an easy job and the flooring underneath will have been protected and preserved all that time.
 Looking for Laminate?

Quality. Like all things, laminate has a wide range of options and prices, and sometimes you do get what you pay for. When we were shopping for our flooring, we found that (for the most part) the cheaper options looked and felt cheap. It took us some time to figure out why, but it was obvious once we found out. If you're looking for a quality laminate that looks and feels like wood, the big thing is to look for laminate that has grooves that match the woodgrain. We found that most of the cheaper ones don't match at all, making them look super-fakey.

Don't forget to look in unexpected places if you're shopping on a budget. Make sure to do your research and search all the areas around town (and even online) so you can get a good idea of the price range and so you'll know a good deal when you see one. We found our laminate (a high quality one for the low-quality price!) at Costco, of all places. They didn't have much of a selection, but what they did have was quality at a fantastic price.

 Yup, it's laminate. Many people have been fooled by it, since it truly looks like real wood, and the imprints on it match the exact woodgrain, and the fact that yes - it totally creaks, thanks to the real wood underneath (which unfortunately, wasn't salvageable for us). We are completely 100% happy with our decision and our purchase for a number of reasons, and rest easy knowing that our flooring will continue to work for us for the next 25 years.

What about you guys? Do you prefer wood or laminate, and why?

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  1. I chose laminate too. Cost, DIY install, and the length of time we'll spend in the house (about 3 years) were the biggest factors. Not to mention we have a large dog too, and all my scratching tests on laminate look pretty good.

    I decided against the wood grain imprints because I love the way my parents' real wood floors are one long, smooth, shiny surface. I wanted something similar, so I went with a very shiny laminate. I'm worried about it since the hammers have damaged some of the surface a teeny bit during the install (such as pulling out a nail where the claw from the hammer gouges the floor), but so far, I'm very pleased with its appearance. I'm going to do a drop test when I get home to see if it can withstand that, too.

  2. I am in LOVE with my laminate! I installed it perpendicular to the front door so that it runs in a line throughout the house. It's so easy to keep clean, and since I went with a very light birch, the whole house looks airier and brighter.

  3. I am a fan of laminate too. It's so durable and easy to install. My husband is working on a post about the different types of laminate. I will tell him to read your post too. :)

  4. You are absolutely right quality is everything with laminate. We installed laminate in our first house and it was pretty cheap stuff. The finished product was cheap too. Sounded fake, scratched easily, just not quite right. But it was an improvement over the ugly carpet we had replaced.

    In this house we installed real hardwood floors. The process wasn't much different or any harder than the laminate was, but I absolutely love them. So durable and solid. I am so in love with our floors now. We also got a great deal by buying it at an outlet. Got it for half price! We ended up with hand scraped wood floors for the same price a high quality laminate would have cost us. That's a great deal!

    Here's a link to a post about our floors & living room makeover:

  5. Your laminate looks great! (and real!) I think it's come a long way and it looks fabulous! I prefer hardwood but that's all we've had. I would consider laminate in other rooms though.

  6. It looks gorgeous! We are lucky enough to have the original hardwoods in most of the first floor, but we'll probably get laminate for the upstairs - if we ever get that far!

  7. Thanks for all the comments, guys! It's interesting to read all of your responses, and why you guys prefer one material over the other.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  8. I love Costco! We actually got our basement tile there! Check it out!

  9. Hello guys, Engineered hardwood flooring is more popular these days than the natural hardwood floors. Because the construction of hardwood floors engineering offers physical properties than natural wood floors. Just trying it.

  10. Can you give us a clue on what brand of laminate you purchased?

  11. Sure! We have the Harvest Oak laminate flooring by Harmonics, available at Costco. Click here to visit their website:

    Hope it helps!


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