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Step on It. Wood or Laminate?

Hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, or carpeting. Choosing the right flooring for our homes comes with compromises. We make the best choice based on factors such as cost, required maintenance, and environmental impact. But we can’t have everything with one product.


I’ve gradually replaced most of the flooring in my townhome over the last five years. Except for the top floor landing and the stairways, carpeting has been removed. The remaining floors are either laminate or porcelain.


I chose these types of flooring because they are easy to maintain, don’t hold dust like carpeting, which is better for my asthma, and are more affordable. I had hardwood in my last home and appreciated its beauty and that it was organic. But at this point, I couldn’t afford the hardwood and wasn’t keen on the periodic expense and inconvenience of refinishing it every 7-10 years.


Here are some things to consider when choosing your next flooring:


Composition

  1. Laminate is a synthetic flooring manufactured from melamine resin and fiber board. The top layer is imprinted with a textured image to replicate wood. Laminate is a floating floor. Planks lock into one another without glue or nails.

  2. Engineered hardwood is a type of flooring consisting of several layers of wood or plywood. This flooring is stained and prefinished in the factory.

  3. Solid hardwood flooring planks are produced from single pieces of wood and is available prefinished and unfinished. Wood is organic, breathing material that fluctuates with temperature and humidity.

Cost – Engineered wood flooring is 3-5 times more expensive than laminate, and hardwood is considerably more than that. The engineered wood and hardwood flooring also are more expensive to install.

Durability-Laminate is very forgivable. I (carefully) slide furniture across mine without scratching. It’s easy to mop, sweep, and vacuum. It’s also highly resistant to damage from moisture, staining, and fading. Planks can be swapped out if damaged. Good quality laminate can have a lifetime warranty.

Comfort and Sound-The floating aspect of laminate flooring, in addition to its composition, results in a soft, warm product to step on. It’s also quieter than hardwood.

Environmental and Health Concerns-Hardwood is thought to be the best for the environment, but I question as to how that truly compares with laminate. All materials used in manufacturing, finishing, and installing needs to be considered.


According to the site, Coswick.Inspire, it’s important to research the product’s level of safety before buying. The glue used to bond composite material in the manufacturing of laminate can contain formaldehyde resulting in toxic substances emitting into the air.


However, there are eco-friendly products available. Laminate is thought to be 84% recyclable.


Hardwood is biodegradable, organic. Most European and North American hardwood flooring manufacturers produce flooring that contains zero harmful VOC emissions and use glues that are free from formaldehyde.


Appearance-Quality laminate can be quite attractive, but there’s no denying the beauty of hardwood. It also offers the best resale value.


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We can’t care for our loved ones if we don’t care for ourselves. Check out easy ways to do just that along with information to ponder, stretches to keep us healthy, and even a few laughs in my book, Inspired Caregiving.


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