How to Tell If Your Floor is Hardwood or Laminate (and Why It Matters)

How to Tell If Your Floor is Hardwood or Laminate (and Why It Matters)

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Even if you have in no way at the time contemplated the flooring you walk on, purchasing a residence will improve that rapid. There is a cause absolutely everyone on Household Hunters asks what type of flooring are in every home they take a look at: It is because hardwood floors and laminate flooring are two incredibly distinctive matters, but it can also be tricky to explain to them aside. It’s a good plan to know specifically what form of floor you have, though, mainly because hardwood and laminate flooring have quite unique impacts on your home’s price, convenience, and upkeep. Here’s how to explain to if your flooring is hardwood or laminate—and why it matters.

What is the change concerning hardwood and laminate?

The fundamental difference involving hardwood and laminate flooring is how it’s built: Hardwood is harvested from trees, while laminate is a fabricated solution. Hardwood is minimize from a broad wide variety of trees, milled down to measurement, sanded, and concluded. Laminate is a composite products made up of four layers: A base layer manufactured from a moisture-resistant content, a core layer of possibly higher- or medium-density fiberboard that provides it its sturdiness and stability, a decorative or “photographic” layer exactly where the sample and coloration of the flooring are imprinted—essentially a quite substantial-resolution picture of what ever content the laminate is imitating—and eventually a use layer with a clear coating to safeguard the ground.

Even though you can set up hardwood from a extensive selection of wooden styles to get a vary of coloration and look, laminate can be found in a significantly wider vary of shades and styles. It can mimic the glimpse of hardwood extremely convincingly, but can also have different designs and offer colors that you just can’t attain with a purely natural wood. Most laminate is intended to search like hardwood, although.

Hardwood is potentially a much extended-long lasting flooring material than laminate. Adequately cared for, hardwood can previous indefinitely, and even if it will become worn or damaged, it can often be refinished, with the top rated worn layer sanded off and a fresh new coat of stain and sealant bringing it back again to a brand-new overall look. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, are unable to be refinished and ordinarily has a finite lifespan, with the larger high quality stuff lasting 10-20 many years with regular have on. Nevertheless, laminate is a ton cheaper to install, costing in between $5 and $8 per square foot, compared to $9 to $12 per sq. foot for hardwood.

There is also a thing known as engineered hardwood. This is mainly substantial-quality plywood with a veneer of authentic hardwood layered on prime. The most important big difference is value, which can be as reduced as $3 per sq. foot to set up, and longevity: Although the leading layer of hardwood will put on practically as effectively as the true matter, it can only be refinished when or, at most, twice. Engineered hardwoods won’t last endlessly like authentic hardwood, but they’ll previous a lot longer than laminate—up to 30 decades.

How to inform the difference

Because hardwood is a superior materials in most means and laminate will sooner or later need to be changed, you want to be capable to notify them aside. Present day laminate flooring can actually idiot the eye and seem a great deal like hardwood flooring without having supplying the similar toughness. If you have what appear like wooden flooring, here’s how to explain to what substance you’re dealing with:

  • Repeating patterns. Even the most costly laminate will only have a limited quantity of “patterns” supplying it that wood-grain search. Analyze a few planks closely and appear for repeating functions. Knots are a very good position to start off, as they are rather substantial and if you spot two that glimpse just the exact same you have observed your laminate smoking cigarettes gun. If every plank seems exceptional, it’s most likely true wood.
  • Appear for stains and dents. Ironically, irrespective of getting a extra tough content total hardwood is additional inclined to stains and dents. Laminate surfaces can be really resistant to both of those, so if you have some imperfections in your flooring it is very likely actual wood. Laminate can be scratched up pretty quickly, on the other hand, so some scratches is not the smoking gun you are hunting for.
  • Look for nailheads and staples. Hardwood flooring is commonly set up by nailing or stapling the planks on to the subfloor. Laminate is ordinarily glued down or “floated.” If you can see nailheads or staples in this article and there, it’s most likely hardwood.

When it will come to hardwood vs . engineered wood, the only trusted way to inform the big difference is to seem at the sides—if you see layers, it is engineered. But this involves entry to the sides of the planks, which you commonly will not have when working with a concluded flooring.

House values

The motive you want to know what kind of flooring you have is not just about routine maintenance it’s also about your dwelling price. True hardwood floors add a lot additional worth to your home—in actuality, more than 50 % of opportunity property prospective buyers will pay much more for a residence with hardwood flooring. If you think you may possibly someday offer your dwelling, figuring out what form of floors are in there will assistance you established the selling price appropriately—and if you are shopping for a property, recognizing the sort of flooring will support you make the ideal supply.

The rule of thumb on laminate and house price is basic: If you are upgrading from carpet, vinyl, or some other cheap flooring, laminate is a fantastic financial investment in phrases of residence worth. If you’ve now acquired hardwood flooring, laminate would be a move down, so search into refinishing what you have or replacing it with a identical material.