laminate pros and cons

Laminate Flooring Pros & Cons: Compared to Hardwood, Cork, Bamboo, Vinyl & More

By Fortino Rosas / September 20, 2021 / 6 Comments

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    With so many choices available in flooring these days, how do you decide on one?

    Is laminate flooring still a popular choice? Or is it considered outdated and out of style?

    Although hardwood floors remain one of the most popular trends, not everyone can afford them. So, laminate is a great, affordable alternative.

    And despite the bad “rap” it sometimes receives, laminate flooring’s popularity has not faded.

    Many of today’s laminate floors look so much like hardwoods that it is difficult to tell the difference.

    Not only does it resemble hardwood flooring, there are also new styles that mimic natural stone tile. Whether you prefer stone tiles or hardwood, you can achieve the same look with laminate.

    So, if it is less expensive and looks almost the same, why wouldn’t you use it?

    Laminate can be a great choice, but, like anything else, it does have its disadvantages. And so does hardwood, cork, bamboo, vinyl, tile, and even carpet.

    The Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring

    With virtually any type of flooring, there are benefits and there are drawbacks. It always depends on what your specific needs are.

    Laminate is no exception to this rule.  Some of the benefits of this type of flooring include:

    • Easy to install.
    • Low maintenance (see: best laminate vacuums).
    • Inexpensive.
    • Water and moisture-resistant.
    • Looks like hardwood or tile.

    Now, you might think that with all these great benefits, what’s there not to like about laminate? Despite all its great perks, there are also a few drawbacks to this flooring:

    • Cannot sand or refinish damaged planks.
    • Sometimes slippery.
    • Not waterproof (most laminate is not waterproof, but waterproof options are now being created)
    • Can look “fake”.
    • Does not improve resale value.

    So, depending on your priorities, laminate may or may not be a good choice. Let’s see how this flooring stacks up to other types of flooring that are available.

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    Laminate vs. Hardwood

    You want the look of hardwood, but not sure if you want to invest in it. Here’s how it compares to laminate:

    • Laminate is less expensive than hardwood.
    • Laminate is easier to install yourself.
    • It is easy to maintain laminate, but not easy to repair.
    • Hardwoods can be sanded and refinished.
    • Both offer a wide array of styles and colors.
    • Hardwoods provide a more natural look.
    • Hardwoods increase the resale value of your home.

    Whether to choose laminate or hardwood depends on several factors. First, what can you afford?

    Laminate is definitely the cheaper option. However, the cheaper you go, the less natural it tends to look.

    Also, consider installation. If you want to install the laminate flooring yourself, laminate is generally easier.

    While both flooring options are highly durable, they both have their challenges.

    If you scratch or damage laminate, it is tough to repair. Your best bet is to replace the damaged planks.

    Hardwoods, even most engineered hardwoods, can be sanded down and refinished to repair scratches.

    If you are in the market for a specific look or color, both laminate and hardwoods offer a wide selection of choices.

    Hardwoods come in many different species, styles, and grains. And laminate is designed to mimic many of these.

    So, either way, you can find a style that suits your taste. Now, if you are considering selling your home, you may want to consider more than just your own personal preferences.

    Most potential homebuyers prefer hardwoods over laminate. If resale value is a priority, then hardwoods are probably worth the investment.

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    Laminate vs. Cork

    Laminate and cork have many similarities and differences. Let’s compare the two:

    • Both are very durable, in different ways.
    • Cork is much greener than laminate.
    • Cork is softer and easier to walk on.
    • Laminate is less expensive than cork.
    • Laminate offers more choices.
    • Both are water-resistant.
    • Both types of flooring are easy to install.

    Laminate and cork are in some ways, very opposite of each other.

    Both are durable. However, laminate is durable because of its hard, top surface whereas cork is durable due to its resilient soft top layer.

    Cork’s softness makes it easier to walk on and stand on for longer periods of time. Whereas laminate is hard and, depending on the gloss, can even be slippery.

    Laminate is manufactured with toxins and resins, so you can expect off-gassing with this product. And cork is one of the most sustainable and “green” flooring products on the market.

    So, if air quality or allergies are an issue, cork is the better option.

    Both options are resistant to water and moisture if installed properly. And both types of flooring are easy to install.

    They both can be installed as floating floors. And both can be DIY projects.

    However, laminate is less expensive than cork. Laminate prices range from around $1 to $10 per square foot, whereas cork costs about $4 to $15 a square foot.

    And you also have many more choices of color and style with laminate.

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    Laminate vs. Bamboo

    If you are debating between laminate and bamboo flooring, here’s how they stack up against each other:

    • Both are fairly inexpensive.
    • Both are easy to clean.
    • Both are low maintenance.
    • Both can impact your ability to sell your home.
    • Laminate has many more style options.
    • Laminate does not scratch as easily as bamboo.
    • Bamboo is a more natural, eco-friendly choice.

    These two flooring options share several of the same pros and cons. Neither option will break the bank financially.

    And both are easy to keep clean and maintain.

    However, both of these options can be good or bad for your home’s resale value.

    High-quality laminate that closely resembles wood will probably not hinder the sale of your home, however, cheap-looking laminate may decrease its value.

    And bamboo has a very modern appeal. This can detract potential homebuyers who prefer a more traditional look.

    So, unless you are going for a modern look, you might be better off choosing from one of the many options available in laminate.

    Another benefit of laminate over bamboo is the fact that it does not scratch as easily. If the room has heavy furniture or gets a lot of traffic, bamboo may not be a good option.

    But, if eco-friendly flooring is important to you, then bamboo is a much better choice. It is very green and will not release VOCs as laminate does.

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    Laminate vs. Vinyl

    Laminate and vinyl plank are both inexpensive flooring options, but is one a better choice for your home? Let’s compare these two options:

    • Vinyl plank is made of plastic, whereas laminate is mostly wood.
    • Vinyl is more moisture resistant than laminate.
    • Laminate looks more natural.
    • Vinyl is softer to walk on.
    • Both are inexpensive and easy to install.
    • Neither adds value to your home.

    For homeowners wanting to achieve the look of hardwood without the hefty price tag, laminate and vinyl are both possible choices.

    Both have technology that achieves a close resemblance wood.  The difference is that vinyl is 100% plastic whereas laminate is 99% made of wood.

    And while this helps laminate to look a little closer to hardwood, it also means it is more vulnerable to water. Because vinyl is made of plastic, water doesn’t damage it.

    Vinyl, especially luxury vinyl, is softer to walk on than laminate. And you are less likely to slip on it.

    There are many choices of color and style for each type of flooring and neither are very expensive. Plus, both can be installed easily.

    Both types make great DIY projects because they can be installed as floating floors. And they can both be installed on top of existing floors.

    However, neither vinyl nor laminate will contribute to the resale value of your home.

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    Laminate vs. Tile

    If you are debating between laminate and tile for your floors, consider which rooms the new flooring will go into. This can impact your choice between these two:

    • Laminate can mimic the look of tile, but easier to install.
    • Both can be inexpensive options.
    • Tile holds up better against water and dampness.
    • Laminate is more comfortable than tile.
    • Both offer many choices of style and color.
    • Tile can improve your home’s resale value.

    Not only does laminate come in planks to resemble hardwoods, you can also find many stone options. So, if you like the look of tile, you can also use laminate in its place.

    But should you? There are expensive tiles, but also ones that are comparable in price to laminate.

    However, while you can attempt to install tile yourself, it is probably best to let a professional do it. Laminate can be a DIY project.

    If you are deciding between these two options, one of the factors should be the rooms you plan to use the flooring in.

    Laminate is more vulnerable to water damage. So, you may be better off using tile in kitchens and especially in bathrooms.

    Tile can feel hard and cold. So, if you prefer it, you may want to also invest in rugs, especially in bedrooms or living rooms.

    Laminate is more comfortable to walk on, especially if it has a thick underlayment. But if you choose a laminate that is not textured, it can be slippery.

    Both laminate and tile come in countless options. With laminate, you can choose many different wood or stone looks.

    Tile comes in many different styles and textures. There are natural stones such as travertine and marble, or you can choose porcelain or ceramic tile in a variety of patterns and colors.

    But, keep in mind, that if resale value is a factor, tile can help your home. Laminate will probably not improve the value of your home.

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    Laminate vs. Carpet

    Laminate and carpet are very different in most ways. But they also have some similarities. Here’s the comparison:

    • Carpet is soft and warm, laminate is not.
    • Laminate is easier to clean and maintain than carpet.
    • Both offer inexpensive options.
    • Installation is easier with laminate.
    • Neither should get wet.
    • Carpet can be a deterrent for prospective home buyers.

    Carpet is warm and soft. It feels good to walk or sit on.

    Laminate is hard and slippery. It is not as safe as carpet for young children or the elderly.

    However, laminate is much easier to maintain. And much safer for those who suffer from allergies.

    Dust, pet dander, and other allergens can easily hide in carpet fibers. Even if you vacuum regularly, you may not remove everything trapped in your carpet.

    Dirt and grime are easily swept away from laminate. There is nowhere to hide.

    Carpet can get expensive, depending on what you choose. However, there are plenty of inexpensive options.

    So, you can find either carpet or laminate options that fit your budget. But only one of them really works as a DIY project.

    Laminate is easy to install and can be put down on top of an existing floor. Carpet really needs to be installed professionally and old flooring must be removed.

    And neither of these options work well in bathrooms. Laminate could go in a kitchen, but there are better options for your kitchen.

    As far as resale goes, many potential buyers do not like to see carpet. So, while laminate does not add value to your home, it is generally more appealing to prospective home buyers than carpet is.

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    What is more sustainable: cork or bamboo?

    Both cork and bamboo are more sustainable than laminate flooring, but which is the greener option of the two? Cork and bamboo flooring are both sustainable flooring options that serve the needs of environmentally conscious consumers well, but cork is the more sustainable choice. 

    This is because bamboo is cut at ground level every five to seven years, whereas cork bark is gently peeled away from the cork tree every nine to twelve years. A single cork tree can live up to 200 years — that means that one tree can be harvested more than 15 times in its lifetime!

    How much more expensive is hardwood than laminate?

    Laminate is the cheaper option between the two flooring materials, but just how much more cash are you expected to cough up for hardwood? 

    In many instances, those who opt for hardwood pay more than double — and sometimes even triple — what others pay for laminate. 

    Though the cost for installing either flooring option will vary from provider to provider, the average cost per square foot for laminate flooring is between $2 and $8 while the average cost per square foot for hardwood flooring costs between $12 and $20. 

    What are the disadvantages of bamboo flooring?

    As is the case with all types of flooring, bamboo is not without its disadvantages. The biggest drawback of bamboo flooring is that it is susceptible to water damage which means that it’s only suitable for certain rooms in the home and any spills need to be attended to immediately

    Another disadvantage of bamboo flooring is that it is available in fewer styles compared to other materials. In addition, certain types of bamboo tend to off-gas due to the formaldehyde adhesive used in the manufacturing of cheaper bamboo flooring.

    Is bamboo cheaper than wood?

    Like laminate, bamboo is a much cheaper flooring option than wood. The reason for this is simple: bamboo plants grow and mature significantly faster than trees. 

    Depending on the type of hardwood you plan on purchasing, you can expect to pay upwards of $10 per square foot. Bamboo, on the other hand, typically costs between $5 and $7 per square foot, making it a much more affordable option.   

    Of course, several factors affect the cost. For instance, a high-quality bamboo installation may be more expensive than an installation of softer, cheaper wood such as pine.

    What is cheaper: luxury vinyl or laminate?

    While it’s true that laminate and luxury vinyl are both on the more inexpensive side of the flooring cost spectrum, one is cheaper than the other, and that is laminate. 

    In terms of the cost to purchase the material and install it, both are praised for their affordability. The typical installation costs of both range between $2 and $5 while purchasing per square foot works out to between $1 to $6. 

    In the end, laminate overall is cheaper because as you explore the more luxurious LVP options the costs can skyrocket, whereas premium laminate options don’t rise too much in price.

    What is more scratch-resistant, laminate or vinyl?

    Laminate and vinyl are both incredibly scratch-resistant, but vinyl is more resistant to scratches than laminate. This is because as laminate gets older the wear layer gradually deteriorates, whereas vinyl ages at a much slower rate.

    That being said, some scratch tests reveal that laminate is more scratch-resistant than vinyl in the short term. This proves that both flooring options are fantastic choices for those who are concerned about scratches, and which is better for you just depends on whether your needs are short or long-term.


    If you are on the fence as to whether to use laminate over other flooring choices, the best way to decide is by figuring out your priorities.

    Are you limited by your budget? Do you want to install the flooring yourself?

    What rooms will the floors go in?  Do you have pets, children, elderly relatives living with you?

    The answers to these questions can impact what flooring works best for you.

    Laminate is a great option if you want the look of hardwoods or natural stone tiles without spending a small fortune. There are many new options in laminate closely resemble stone and wood.

    It is also very durable and easy to clean.

    Laminate is not the eco-friendliest flooring; however, many manufacturers are creating more green options.

    At the end of the day, choose a flooring that appeals to you and meets the needs of your family.

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    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    6 thoughts on “Laminate Flooring Pros & Cons: Compared to Hardwood, Cork, Bamboo, Vinyl & More”

    1. Hi, I am thinking of putting waterproof laminate flooring in my bathroom. But what I need to know is just how slippery is it? We are in our late 70’s and slipping and falling will eventually be an issue.
      Thanks so much

    2. Cherelle Reaves-Berrard

      I would like to know isn’t vinyl noisier with shoes on?
      Also thinking dark brown laminate or vinyl but which one shows more dust, foot prints and dirt? Which is better to keep clean vinyl or laminate?
      I thought vinyl would show less dirt or footprints if bare feet. Plus I have a small dog would his nails scratch laminate? Which is easier for him to walk on?
      Thanks for your help

      1. I’m not an expert by any means but I have had experience with both laminate and luxury vinyl plank flooring and dogs.
        In my personal opinion, laminate stays cleaner looking for longer. I felt like the matte quality of the vinyl compared to the glossier laminate made it much more apt to look dull with the slightest bit of dust. To be fair, I live in Arizona so everything gets covered in dust daily which could be why my vinyl appeared permanently dusty, still I didn’t notice the same dulling effect with the laminate.
        Your small dogs claws should not be an issue at all for either vinyl or laminate. I raised a Great Dane and two German Shepherds from puppy hood through old age with laminate and eventually vinyl flooring and they didn’t scratch either flooring type as far as I could tell. The laminate was too slick for my Great Dane in his final years when getting up started to become more of a challenge but we solved the problem by covering the laminate floor with grippy-backed throw rugs in all the areas he needed to traverse. It was not the most stylish of options but he was worth it and the rugs were only temporary , and easily removed when they were no longer needed after he passed-on. Your smaller dog will likely never have trouble navigating even the slippery laminate surface. Slippery surfaces are much harder for big dogs to navigate than they are for small dogs. Hope this helped a little.

    3. Very good comparison between the different “wood-look” floorcoverings, but I would like to know if vinyl products also release VOCs as you mentioned about the laminate products. Since a laminate is 99% wood and vinyl is 100% plastic, I would have thought that vinyl products would be the ones to give off more VOCs. I am in the process of purchasing vinyl planks for our house so I hope I will not have to worry about VOCs.

    4. I like how you mentioned that laminate is easy to clean. My husband and I are putting some new floors in. We’ll look into laminate so it’s not hard to clean.

    5. I have gone through your link. It was very impressive and also tells about the benefits of each type of flooring while you’re selecting one. The post will definitely help those people who want to change their flooring style. Thanks for this great article!

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