Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring: What’s the difference?

hardwood vs laminate flooring

Both solid hardwood and laminate are popular choices for flooring. The major difference between solid hardwood flooring and laminate flooring is the core material, which affects the appearance, strength, durability, longevity, and cost of each flooring type.

While solid wood flooring is the most popular and reliable choice for wooden flooring, laminate flooring is a much more affordable alternative, ideal for projects with a low budget.

While solid hardwood flooring is certainly the best choice in terms of quality and authentic appearance, laminate flooring is equally popular among homeowners. Let’s find out all about the difference between hardwood and laminate flooring to help you make the right choice.

What is Hardwood Flooring?

One of the most common applications of hardwoods is for making beautiful and sturdy floors. Hardwood flooring refers to a floor made of solid hardwood.

One of the best benefits of hardwood flooring is its natural appeal and premium feel that cannot be matched with any other flooring type. Some types of hardwood flooring are naturally durable against moisture and decay but others might need external treatment to ensure longevity.

Hardwood flooring can be considerably expensive, especially compared to cheaper options like laminate flooring.

Hardwood flooring, being solid and sturdy, can be used in all scenarios and environments, including residential floors and high-traffic areas like offices and halls. However, for moisture-prone areas, water-resistant or treated hardwood flooring must be selected.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is an inexpensive flooring option manufactured using fiberboard (a type of engineered wood made of wood residue) and a waterproof and scratch proof laminate sheet that gives the appearance of real wood.

Laminate flooring is waterproof but it cannot match the strength and sturdiness of solid hardwood. It’s a great option when budget is a constraint but you still want a floor that looks like real wood.

Laminate is significantly cheap, usually $1 to $3 per foot, making it one of the most affordable flooring options out there.

Laminate flooring is water-resistant and can be used in all areas, including moisture-prone areas like kitchens and bathrooms. However, in high-traffic areas, it might get easily damaged and need more frequent maintenance.

Laminate Vs Hardwood Flooring

There are many differences between laminate flooring and solid wood flooring and also a few similarities. For one, both types of flooring look alike. The difference in appearance becomes more apparent when you look closely, which is when laminate flooring starts losing its charm. Other than that, both flooring options are strong and durable.

Laminate Hardwood
Material Fiberboard with a laminate wood image Solid wood
Installation Easy, DIY, click-lock mechanism Difficult, click-groove mechanism
Cost Affordable Expensive
Lifespan 10-15 years Up to 100 years
Repair/Maintenance Easy to maintain, cannot be refinished Can refinished, stained, and painted many times
Value for money Low High resale value

Laminate Flooring Vs. Hardwood Flooring: Basic Differences

Hardwood is solid, pure wood procured naturally from a tree. Examples include oak, walnut, and maple. This wood is used for manufacturing hardwood flooring with each board having around 3/4-inch thickness.

Laminate is a man-made material. Laminate flooring is made using fiberboards of around 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness, where a waterproof photo of wood is fixed on top of the board to give it a wood-like appearance.


The premium look and feel of natural hardwood is nearly impossible to beat. Hardwood flooring is an authentic product that looks gorgeous and feels naturally warm and comfortable underfoot, something that cannot be replicated with a manufactured product like laminate flooring.

The hardwood floorboards have a smooth top surface with colors ranging from white-yellowish to brownish-red, depending on the hardwood species.
Laminate flooring, though appears similar to wooden flooring, is not the same thing. It is usually less attractive, and the patterns are repeated. The texture (feel) of real wood grain might be missing.

Winner: Solid hardwood flooring


Hardwood is naturally strong, making the flooring feel sturdy and solid underfoot.

Laminate flooring is also strong and durable but may not be as strong as solid wood flooring.

Winner: Solid hardwood flooring

Durability & Longevity

Most hardwoods are naturally durable and sturdy, making hardwood floors last multiple decades with basic care. However, not all hardwoods are resistant to moisture damage, and exposure to moisture can significantly affect or reduce their lifespan, which is why wooden flooring is not suitable for kitchens and bathrooms.

Laminate flooring typically lasts 10-15 years. Being water-resistant, this type of flooring can withstand some exposure to moisture. They also handle humidity better, but care must be taken to not let water infiltrate the joints, which might cause the fiberboard to swell and damage.

Laminate floors can be installed over radiant heating, keeping them warm and comfortable. Hardwood flooring can be used with radiant heating but might face problems like shrinkage of boards.

Winner: Laminate flooring


Laminate floors are usually very cheap, costing about $1 to $3 per sq. foot. In comparison, hardwood floors are considerably expensive, starting at around $10 per sq. ft. This is because hardwood costs way more and has limited availability with huge demand. The cost of laminate flooring may also depend on its design.

Winner: Laminate flooring

Resale Value

In terms of resale value, hardwood flooring offers the best value for money. While laminate flooring has a very low resale value, solid wood flooring can increase your home’s resale value by at least 3-5%.

Winner: Hardwood flooring

Feel and Sound

Natural hardwood flooring is solid but comfortable to walk on. You get a warm feeling with a sense of nature. Laminate flooring may feel softer than hardwood because of its soft texture. The natural warmth of wood is missing. The top is made of plastic, so walking on it makes a different sound from what is produced by walking on a wooden floor.

Winner: Hardwood flooring


Both laminate flooring and hardwood flooring are easy to maintain and can be cleaned easily using a vacuum machine or damp mop.

However, hardwood flooring might not handle water as adequately as laminate. In other words, you cannot wash your hardwood flooring very frequently if you want it to last long.

Hardwood flooring is, however, easy to repair if damaged. This is because hardwoods can be sanded and refinished at least a few times to remove dents, scratches, etc., and restore the finish. Laminate floors cannot be repaired once damaged and the damaged part may need to be fully replaced. But, it is less expensive to replace than hardwood flooring.

Winner: Both

Staining and Coloring

Hardwood floors feature a wooden top surface that can be stained or painted after installation multiple times to improve or change their appearance.

Laminated floors have a plastic top surface and cannot be stained or painted. It needs to be replaced if damaged.

Winner: Hardwood flooring


Most of the modern laminate floors come with a click-lock mechanism, which makes them easy to install. Anyone can install laminate floors, as they require no nailing. They are also lightweight and easier to handle and carry.

Hardwood floors, on the other hand, generally feature tongue-and-groove edges and can be complex to install and might require expert assistance. The boards have to be nailed to the subfloor and fixed through the tongue-and-groove edges. If the flooring is unfinished, it might need to be sanded and finished after installation.

Winner: Laminate

Which is the best Hardwood for Flooring?

Choosing the right hardwood species for your flooring is important to ensure the best value for money. There are thousands of hardwood species out there, which can make the choice difficult. Oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and mahogany are some of the most popular hardwood flooring options. Compare these options based on appearance, strength, price, and other factors to find out the best. If you need expert help, please contact Cameroon Timber Export SARL to consult your requirements with a specialist. Visit our website Cameroontimberexport.com to explore and choose from 40+ top wood species with worldwide shipping.