Turn on any home remodel or home buyers reality television show, and what is the one phrase you are certain to hear from hosts and home buyers alike? “I’ve got to have my hardwood floors.” Is hardwood really the holy grail of flooring? Let’s find out.
Known for its beauty, durability and value, hardwood adds a touch of elegance to any room. It used to be the go-to flooring before the 70s rolled around and homeowners covered up their hardwood with thick, shag carpets. Over the past few years, hardwood has made a big comeback.
This flooring is available in local and exotic wood, including light brown maple, cozy softwood pine, commanding oak and elegant walnut. Some hardwoods change over time; walnut lightens and cherry darkens. Some hardwoods, like parquet, are used to create tile-like patterns for more lively floors.
Hardwood needs to be protected. Areas that receive direct sunlight may discolour over time. Homes with hardwood have to ensure optimal humidity during the installation process and during the lifetime of the product. Too little humidity and hardwood warps and cracks. Too much and it swells. Hardwood should be refinished every 7-10 years.
Laminate, or engineered hardwood, has the same look of hardwood, but is a synthetic product made up of thin layers. The realistic wood-grain look is achieved with high-resolution photo under a clear, durable top layer.
Thanks to a click and lock plank or tile system, laminate is very easy to install. It does not chip, shrink or warp easily and it can be used in dry or humid areas that are not suitable for hardwood, such as a bathroom or basement.
Which one is better?
The answer to the laminate versus hardwood debate is: it depends. The value of any home is greatly improved by high-end flooring, and real hardwood is always more expensive and valuable than laminate. However, the value of a home is also highly dependent on the family that lives there, and the purpose of the home.
Hardwood is a high-maintenance floor. You have to remember to shuffle the furniture and area rugs in bright rooms so the wood doesn’t fade unevenly. Hardwood cannot be used in dry or very moist or humid rooms. That means that screened sun room, basement theatre, or spa bathroom need different flooring – and not everyone likes an incongruent floor on a single level. For a busy family on the go, the maintenance of hardwood could be a deterrent.
Laminate can go anywhere in the home and does not require a constant eye on the humidifier. For a busy family with high foot traffic, this adds a lot of value to the home. One can also create consistent flooring from room to room since moist or dry air won’t hurt the laminate.
How to choose
When doing your home renovation in Calgary, think “form and function.” Is your home in a stately community of estate properties where older professionals and seniors live? Or is it in a family neighbourhood with plenty of young children and young professionals? Do you have towering windows in most rooms or smaller windows with drapery? Is the style modern or traditional? What is the foot traffic like in the main rooms?
Consider the location, your desire for ongoing maintenance, and the main purpose of the home (retirement, resale, estate, income property); and when you think about all that, you’ll know if laminate or hardwood is the best value for you and your home.