Timber Versus Laminate Flooring: Pros & Cons

If you’re looking to renovate, or build new, the flooring material you select will have a huge impact on the look, feel, durability and lasting value of your home.

Carpet, tiles, laminate, timber – there are so many different options, each with their own unique set of pros and cons. We love solid hardwood timber flooring for its aesthetic beauty and timeless appearance but there are other options out there which need to be considered.
In this comprehensive guide, we will examine the pros and cons of timber vs laminate flooring and take an in depth look at everything you should consider before making your decision.

Timber Flooring – Pros

Beautiful

The best part of genuine hardwood timber flooring is its striking beauty. Timber flooring imbues warmth and depth to your property and can only improve the aesthetics of your space. Timber flooring is a great way to bring your natural surroundings into your home.
Timber ages gracefully and the aging process adds to the charm. Each board has distinctive knots, grain and colour variation, which all add up to a look that is uniquely yours.
Timber floors feel great underfoot! Timber is a timeless product that doesn’t date. Its classic, traditional appearance works well in any setting and provides an elegant finish to any room.

 Durable

If properly cared for and maintained, hardwood flooring can last as long as the building itself.
Timber flooring can be pre-coated to protect from wear (polyurethane is common), or even coated and treated after it has been installed. It can be sanded and refurbished over and over to revitalise its appearance or to match your interior.
It’s easy to clean. The sheer convenience in terms of cleaning and maintenance of timber flooring alone is enough of a reason to install genuine hardwood flooring. It doesn’t stain, doesn’t retain odours and doesn’t harbour dust mites or other allergens.

Versatile

Floor boards can be sanded back, washed, stained, waxed or even painted. Engineered wood floors can be installed over your existing sub-floor.
Timber flooring comes in a range of different looks and styles, including structural solid plank floorboards that slot together, parquet designs, and floating floors.

Cost Effective

Beautiful timber floors will add to the re-sale value of your home. A well-maintained floor will outlive the building it is in and will never need replacing.

Eco-Friendly

Timber flooring is much more eco-friendly than its counterparts. It is a 100% renewable resource with low embodied energy. When sourced from regrowth, the new, growing trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the carbon absorbed remains trapped in the wood even when used for flooring. Moreover the production of timber hardwood uses far less energy to create – compared with other building materials.
Timber floors are made from real wood and can be reused and recycled again and again.

Laminate Flooring – Pros

Laminate is a decorative surface made from single or multiple layers of paper glued to a substrate board. In certain applications, laminate flooring can be an attractive, durable and cost effective option

Range

Laminate is available in a limitless number of patterns, colours, finishes, widths and styles that imitate real timber.

Durable

Laminate can be durable & hardwearing. Many laminate surfaces are scratch resistant and can stand up well to heavy traffic and tough conditions.

Cheap

Laminate flooring has a lower initial cost than timber. For low budget projects laminate flooring can be a good choice.
The materials are cheaper to produce and installation usually requires less time and skill.

Easy To Install

Many laminate floors use a click-and-lock system. The installer simply slides the boards together and locks them into place without glue or screws.
You can install some types of laminate floors yourself.

Cons of Laminate Flooring

Hard To Repair

Laminate floors do not repair easily and often have to be replaced instead of repaired. In some situations you may be able to replace individual boards, but due to exposure to light or age, the replacement piece may not match perfectly. Laminate can’t be sanded back or refinished, for a different look it must be replaced.

Less Visually Appealing

Cheaper laminates have artificial-looking woodgrain textures. Laminate is imitating real timber floors so will never quite have the same look. Laminate may look like timber at first glance but most people can easily tell the difference upon closer inspection.

Impractical

Unless a slip resistant layer is included, laminate can be very slippery to walk on. Even with a high-quality underlay, some floors will sound hollow to walk on and can be very noisy.

Not As Cost Effective

A home with laminate floors will have a lower resale value than the same house with timber floors.  Laminate floor has a much shorter life span, so owners must factor in the replacement cost down the track.

Timber Flooring – Cons

Timber floors are a beautiful addition to any home but may not be the right choice in every situation. Here are a few things to bear in mind.

Price

Hardwood flooring is made from real trees; pricing reflects how rare the species is, how fast it grows, and the costs of harvesting and production.

Damage

How robust your floor is depends on the hardness rating of the timber. We love a floor that shows some extra character but some prefer a perfect finish.
Poorly maintained floors can be susceptible to damage. If your floor suffers a very heavy scratch, you’ll need to sand and re-coat the entire area.
If left unsealed timber floors can stain, dent and scratch or get damaged by moisture–  which may not be practical for every home.
Timber will expand when wet and then contract when it dries out. Repeated wetting and drying can cause warping and cracking over time.

The Environment

Always choose a product that is certified as sustainable.

Install & Maintenance

Timber floors should be installed by a professional who takes pride in their work. Timber boards may need to be left on site for up to two weeks to acclimatise before laying.
Timber floors need to be buffed and re-coated every three to four years in high traffic areas.

 

To find out more about hardwood flooring, click here.