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

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Even if you’ve in no way once contemplated the flooring you walk on, acquiring a property will improve that quick. There is a purpose all people on Residence Hunters asks what sort of flooring are in each property they go to: It’s due to the fact hardwood flooring and laminate flooring are two pretty unique items, but it can also be tricky to inform them apart. It’s a superior plan to know precisely what type of flooring you have, however, simply because hardwood and laminate flooring have quite unique impacts on your home’s worth, convenience, and routine maintenance. Here’s how to inform if your ground is hardwood or laminate—and why it issues.

What is the variation among hardwood and laminate?

The essential variation involving hardwood and laminate flooring is how it is made: Hardwood is harvested from trees, whilst laminate is a fabricated product or service. Hardwood is reduce from a broad variety of trees, milled down to measurement, sanded, and concluded. Laminate is a composite merchandise built up of 4 levels: A foundation layer created from a humidity-resistant content, a core layer of possibly higher- or medium-density fiberboard that provides it its sturdiness and stability, a attractive or “photographic” layer the place the sample and colour of the flooring are imprinted—essentially a really high-resolution photo of whichever substance the laminate is imitating—and ultimately a dress in layer with a apparent coating to secure the floor.

Whilst you can put in hardwood from a wide wide range of wooden varieties to get a selection of color and physical appearance, laminate can be identified in a substantially wider vary of colors and styles. It can mimic the glimpse of hardwood really convincingly, but can also have distinct patterns and offer colors that you just can’t obtain with a normal wooden. Most laminate is built to glance like hardwood, nevertheless.

Hardwood is most likely a significantly for a longer time-long lasting flooring material than laminate. Properly cared for, hardwood can previous indefinitely, and even if it gets to be worn or broken, it can normally 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 appearance. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, are not able to be refinished and generally has a finite lifespan, with the greater excellent stuff lasting 10-20 several years with ordinary have on. On the other hand, laminate is a lot more affordable to install, costing among $5 and $8 for each square foot, compared to $9 to $12 per square foot for hardwood.

There’s also a little something known as engineered hardwood. This is generally high-high-quality plywood with a veneer of genuine hardwood layered on top. The principal big difference is cost, which can be as minimal as $3 for each sq. foot to set up, and longevity: Although the top rated layer of hardwood will dress in practically as properly as the genuine point, it can only be refinished at the time or, at most, 2 times. Engineered hardwoods won’t previous eternally like serious hardwood, but they’ll final a lot lengthier than laminate—up to 30 several years.

How to tell the variance

Given that hardwood is a exceptional substance in most ways and laminate will at some point want to be changed, you want to be able to notify them apart. Present day laminate flooring can truly idiot the eye and look a good deal like hardwood flooring without providing the same longevity. If you have what seem like wood flooring, here’s how to tell what materials you’re working with:

  • Repeating styles. Even the most high priced laminate will only have a constrained quantity of “patterns” providing it that wood-grain glance. Examine a few planks closely and seem for repeating functions. Knots are a excellent location to commence, as they are rather large and if you place two that glance accurately the same you have discovered your laminate smoking gun. If each and every plank looks exceptional, it’s in all probability actual wood.
  • Seem for stains and dents. Ironically, in spite of becoming a additional sturdy product general hardwood is extra susceptible to stains and dents. Laminate surfaces can be incredibly resistant to both, so if you have some imperfections in your ground it’s probably real wood. Laminate can be scratched up pretty simply, even so, so some scratches is not the smoking gun you’re looking for.
  • Seem for nailheads and staples. Hardwood flooring is typically set up by nailing or stapling the planks on to the subfloor. Laminate is commonly glued down or “floated.” If you can see nailheads or staples right here and there, it’s most very likely hardwood.

When it arrives to hardwood vs . engineered wood, the only dependable way to explain to the variation is to look at the sides—if you see levels, it’s engineered. But this requires obtain to the sides of the planks, which you commonly will not have when dealing with a completed flooring.

House values

The cause you want to know what form of flooring you have isn’t just about upkeep it is also about your property benefit. Serious hardwood floors add a good deal far more price to your home—in fact, extra than half of potential household consumers will pay back far more for a household with hardwood floors. If you feel you may possibly someday market your property, figuring out what variety of flooring are in there will help you set the cost appropriately—and if you’re obtaining a property, realizing the kind of flooring will enable you make the proper give.

The rule of thumb on laminate and property value is easy: If you’re upgrading from carpet, vinyl, or some other low cost flooring, laminate is a good financial commitment in terms of property value. If you have previously obtained hardwood floors, laminate would be a stage down, so seem into refinishing what you have or replacing it with a very similar substance.