So you’re in the fortunate position of choosing a new floor and you’ve narrowed your choice down to timber or laminate. Both are great for open-plan spaces that deal with a lot of foot traffic and both look fabulous, especially now that technological advances have allowed laminate to mimic timber so closely. How do they compare? Let’s measure up their attributes:
Hardwood is the real deal and looks simply sensational as floorboards. It is a natural product with unique grains. Plank widths vary, with wide planks lending a rustic, classic look to a home and narrow planks allowing a clean, contemporary feel. Narrower planks also perform the trick of allowing smaller-sized places to open up. Either way, you can specify the finish on planks, be it waxed, oiled, polished, stained, black japanned, etc so that it really reflects your style and that of your home.
Let me repeat; laminate has come a long way from the cheap looking product of old. In fact, today’s laminates are almost indistinguishable from timber. Laminate boards are formed of a high-density fibreboard core that is bound together with melamine resin, with a high-resolution photo of real wood laid on top. On top of this are multiple layers of transparent melamine designed to resist wear and tear. This technical product means you have a wide range of timber-looking laminates to choose from and can also choose from a variety of board widths.
Timber is a natural material that grows over much time and is, therefore, the more expensive of the two. Price wise, laminate costs about $90 per square metre installed, compared with timber and engineered timber at $120-$140 per square metre.
Laminate is easier for a homeowner to install, by a country mile. It won’t warp or shrink and is scratch resistant (so is great for households with pets) and will not fade over time (as it has UV protection integrated into it) – so it gets top points for these characteristics. Timber is also easy to clean although one pitfall is that it can fade over time, so beware if you have a light-filled home. Timber does however, have the added benefit of being able to be sanded back when it accumulates too many scratches or when you decide you’re up for a flooring refresh.
Both are reasonably hard surfaces, so do make some noise. Naturally, this can be compensated for my laying down rugs or requesting that people leave their shoes at the door. It’s is especially important though to have an acoustic underlay for laminate as it can sound hollow to walk on.
There you go. Really, it’s a choice between two fantastic products that look great and perform well. Best of luck with choosing!