Would you love to rip out the carpet in the living room? Do you think the family room needs a new look? Do you have allergy sufferers in your home who would benefit from hard flooring? Then you may want to consider either hardwood, or high-gloss laminate in your floor renovation project.
Years ago, this was an easy choice. Laminate often had a very fake look, and would often not age well, developing waves or peaks. Times, however, have changed. Now, new technologies are creating better laminate flooring than ever, making the choice between high-gloss laminate and hardwood a much tougher call.
Now, homeowners regularly choose between these two options for health reasons or when they are simply seeking to update the appearance of a space.
High gloss laminate flooring offers quite a few advantages over hardwood or other choices such as tile. Beautiful to look and friendly to the budget, high-gloss laminate is a great choice for many homeowners, especially those who like to get right down and do the home improvement work themselves.
We’ve taken all of this into account and put together an overview of the topics that you will want to think about as you make your flooring choices. Read on for an overview of the pros and cons of high-gloss laminate flooring.
High Gloss Laminate Pros
1. Variety of Choice
Laminate flooring can mimic the look of many different hardwood species. This means that you will likely have a much wider selection of color and grain choices if you go with laminate than you would if you chose hardwood flooring.
One great advantage to high-gloss laminate is the price. While this kind of flooring looks very similar to real hardwood, the best quality high-gloss laminate will nearly always be much cheaper than a comparable product in hardwood.
3. Easy Installation
Especially important for do-it-yourselfers, high-gloss laminate is easy to install. Many brads feature a tongue and groove system that snaps together like a puzzle, and no additional adhesive or special tools are usually required. This set of features adds to the cost savings of the laminate, as, if you choose to put it in yourself, you will save that installation cost.
4. Low maintenance
You will spend much less time keeping up laminate flooring than you will hardwoods. Laminate can be cleaned with regular household tools like vacuums, brooms and mops, and does not stain easily. Laminate also does not need to be waxed.
Because of some of the advantages listed above, laminate is both more durable and more versatile than hardwood. Laminate does not scratch as easily as hardwood, which makes it a great choice for pet owners who fear gouges from claws. Laminate can also be a great choice for families with young children who can be hard on floors.
Laminate can be installed in some places that hardwood simply can’t (or shouldn’t) go. If the area is likely to flood, has high moisture or if the area will receive a lot of direct sunlight, hardwood is likely not your best choice. Laminate also can be installed over radiant heating, which is never an option for hardwood.
High Gloss Laminate Cons
1. Shows Wear and Tear Easily
The shiny finish of high gloss laminate shows scuffs and scratches more easily than do other options. It’s the shininess of the flooring that causes this, as light reflects more easily off the flooring- and any damage. For this reason, it may not be the best choice for areas with heavy foot traffic.
2. It’s Slippery!
Especially when it gets wet, high-gloss laminate can become a hazard for those not steady on their feet. If elderly family members or very small children will be walking regularly on the floor, you may want to consider other options, including looking into the styles of laminate that are matte or have an embossed design or wood grain.
3. Laminate Can’t be Sanded and Restained
Once you’ve chosen the color and finish for your laminate, that’s it. This is the look you will have. Unlike hardwoods, that can be sanded and refinished when you change your mind, laminate will have to be totally replaced if you want a new look.
4. It Isn’t the Real Thing
In the end, both you and prospective home buyers will know that the floor isn’t real hardwood. This can affect your ability to sell and the final purchase price. Real estate agents are unanimous in their evaluation that hardwood floors add value to your home in a way that laminate does not.
5. Static Buildup
Laminate is not very conductive. Especially in drier climates, laminate flooring can build up static, causing painful pokes. If your home is in a location with very dry air, or if dust and dirt tend to accumulate in your home, this is something to consider. Static can also be an issue in rooms with computers or other sensitive equipment.
The Bottom Line
Laminate is a great, economical choice for do-it-yourself homeowners on a budget. The flooring offers great versatility of color, finish and use, while giving the visual effect of a real hardwood floor. Laminate also allows installation in moist, or warm places where hardwood is a bad idea.
On the other hand, if what you are looking for is a luxe, traditional look that will both give you the ability to change your mind about color over time, and increase the value of your home, then hardwood is a better bet. There’s just no getting around the fact that laminate flooring does not increase your home’s value in the same way that hardwood will.
In the end, we encourage you to think carefully about your goals for the space you will be working on before deciding what to choose. Think about your highest priorities: is it cost? Ability to install yourself? Appearance? Value-added potential? Once you’ve set these priorities firmly in mind, you’ll have the tools necessary to make the best choice for you.