Laminate or real wood

    Should you go for the real deal or opt for the lookey-likey?

    Laminate flooring has come a long way over the years so the decision of whether to go for traditional timber or laminate is no longer so straightforward.

    Laminate is undoubtedly a feasible option for those who love the look of traditional flooring without having to pay for its price – but do they really compare?

    Laminates – the upsides and downsides
    The term laminate still evokes some negative emotions – often related to being cheap and badly made. However, the material has come a long way from plastic-looking boards, which were hard to arrange. Today, we have the option of beautiful panels which are hard to tell apart from the real thing. They also outperform traditional wood flooring in every way.

    Laminate floorboards are basically fibreboard with a high-resolution photo of real wood, laid on top. This is then layered with multiple layers of transparent melamine designed to resist wear and tear. It gives you a great range of widths and styles that mimic real timber, but save you dollars and are very easy to install.

    Today’s laminates are also designed to resist stains, scratches and household cleaning chemicals, stopping them from fading over time. You still have the option to install under-floor heating with laminates, and they won’t warp or shrink. Most importantly, laminate flooring is eco-friendly, made using sustainable wood and low emission glues, lacquers and oils.

    As with most things, there also some downsides to choosing laminate flooring. Laminate can’t be sanded back or refinished – so if there’s some wear and tear, the floors will have to be replaced. You’ll also need to consider the re-sale value of your home when choosing flooring. Obviously, laminate floors have a lower resale value that timber, though they do better than carpet. The flooring can also be slippery unless slip-resistant layers have been incorporated. Although laminates are very close to the real thing, they still lack the visual warmth and grace of natural timber. If you’re interested in laminates then look for high-quality ones which mimic timber by using long panels. Lastly, laminates often sound hollow to walk across, even after installing an acoustic underlay.

    Wood floors – priceless
    The look and feel of timber flooring is obviously hard to beat. Wooden boards offer a great vibe and warmth and add great re-sale value to your home. Sanding back timber floors and adding different materials such as a wash, wax or stain, or even painting them, can transform the look of the timber completely if a change is what you’re after. Timber flooring may be more expensive, but purchasing engineered timber or pre-finished floorboards can lower the cost of buying and installing a timber floor.

    So how are they limiting? Timber floors aren’t water-resistant. If they get wet, they expand and then contract as it dries out, causing warping and cracking over time.

    Sanding back floors is a great way to refurbish them, however there’s only so many times it can be done before they become too thin.

    So which do you choose? The best way to determine which flooring is most suited to you, is to go over the pros and cons of both materials and define which points are the most important to you.

    If saving pennies and keeping it simple is your main priority then go for installing laminate flooring. If your priority is the resale value of your home, traditional ambiance and acoustics, then timber flooring is for you.

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    Turrell Building Services has been designing and building on the North Shore and in the Hills District for over 20 years.

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