Laminate flooring has come a long way over the years so the decision on whether to go for traditional timber or endeavour into laminate is no longer so straightforward. Laminate is such a feasible option for those who love the look of traditional flooring without having to pay for its price. But do they really compare?

The term laminate still evokes some negative emotions – often related to being cheap and nasty. 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, that are hard to tell apart from the real thing and they also outperform traditional wood flooring in every way.

Laminate floor boards are, in a nutshell, fibreboard with a high-resolution photo of real wood, laid on top. This is then layered with multiple layers of transparent melamine designed to resit wear and tear. So what do they have to offer? Laminate flooring gives you a great range of widths and styles that mimic real timber, but save you dollars and are very easy to install. Laminates today 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 will not warp or shrink. Most importantly, however, is laminate flooring is eco-friendly. They are made using sustainable wood and low emission glues, lacquers and oils.

As with most things, there also some downsides to choosing laminate flooring. Laminate cannot be sanded back or refinished – so if there is some wear and tear, the floors will have to be replaced. You will also need to consider the resale value of your home when choosing flooring. Obviously, laminate floors have a lower resale value that timber (however, they do better then 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 are 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.

The look and feel of timber flooring is obviously hard to beat. They offer a great vibe and warmth and add great resale value to the 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 desire. 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? Well, timber floors are not 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 will be limited times it can be done before they become too thin.