Hardwood flooring is at the top of many homebuyers’ lists. However, laminate flooring is increasing in popularity as a hardwood alternative. Hardwood flooring is made from wood planks, which can be purchase unfinished or prefinished. Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring designed to imitate the appearance of real wood. The core layer is usually manufactured from melamine resin and fiber board material. The top layer has an imprinted image to imitate real wood texture. Generally, patterns on laminate flooring are repeated every five boards, on average. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both, it is important to know how each option fits your personal preferences. Appearance Hardwood flooring has a more natural wood appearance than laminate flooring. However, high-quality laminate may also have the appearance of real wood, but lower quality laminate may have an artificial-looking wood grain texture. Cost Hardwood flooring costs more to buy and install than laminate flooring. Laminate materials are cheaper, and the cost of installation is, on average, fifty percent less than the installation of hardwood. Durability The durability of hardwood flooring may vary depending on the finish and manufacturing process. Natural wood may dent more easily. Solid or engineered hardwood flooring can be refinished or repaired easily. Overall, hardwood is more susceptible to scratching than laminate flooring. In addition, hardwood can be damaged from moisture. Because laminate is made from pressed wood, it is more durable and resists scratches, moisture, and wear better than hardwood. Laminate can also be installed anywhere in the home, including bathrooms since it is resistant to moisture and humidity. However, laminate flooring cannot be spot-repaired. One scratched or chipped, laminate flooring will show the damage. Maintenance, Repair, and Refinishing Laminate flooring is easier to clean than hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors should be cleaned using hardwood flooring cleaners to preserve the finish. Hardwood flooring can be repaired by sanding and refinishing, but laminate cannot be spot-repaired. Laminate flooring is not easy to repair. While you may be able to replace individual planks, it may be difficult to find individual boards that match properly. On average, laminate flooring should be repaired approximately every twenty years while hardwood flooring can last between forty and eighty years if well-maintained. Environmental Friendliness Solid and engineered hardwood can be disposed of or recycled without damage to the environment. Solid hardwood flooring is 100% organic. Engineered hardwood is mostly organic. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is not always environmentally friendly. During manufacturing of laminate, large volumes of glue are used to bond together composite material. Contents of these glues are sometimes questionable and may contain harmful materials. There are, however, high quality non-toxic laminate floors on the market. Carefully research the manufacturer to ensure you are buying high-quality eco-friendly product.