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Check out our useful hints and tips articles to help you get the best out of your home interiors projects.

The pros and cons of wooden versus laminate flooring

Sleeping dog on laminate floor. Photograph by Jonathon Monk

If you are looking to buy new flooring for your home, the sheer amount of choice available can be somewhat confusing.

Wooden flooring is extremely desirable and can suit a range of different rooms in the home - but sometimes a laminate or engineered wood option may work better depending on budget, location and other requirements.

Many older properties have the benefit of having real wood flooring already installed - which can be a blessing if in good condition. There is no doubt that it can add significant value to your home, and also looks and feels fantastic. There is a wide range of options available, with a simple rustic oak at the lower end of the price range and hardwoods such as teak suitable for those with a larger budget. Budget really can be a constraint, however, with wood generally more expensive than manmade options. Real wood can also expand in damp conditions and shrink during drier weather, meaning that it can take a lot of maintenance to keep your floor in tip top condition. Because of this factor, real wood is generally more suitable for areas such as living rooms and hallways where the environment is more stable - and where you will be able to show your flooring choice off.

Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is far more resilient and significantly more affordable. It is easier to install than real wooden flooring, and brands such as Arnold Laver offer laminate options that are designed to look like a variety of different woods, in a range of colours and finishes. Prices can start as low as £3 per square metre, but be warned: it is worth spending more to find something that looks as realistic as possible.

Laminate flooring is suitable for a wide range of rooms, but check the specifications carefully before buying. Some laminate options feature a core that is waterproof, but if you are planning on using in a kitchen or bathroom, make sure you do your research first. It is easy for laminate flooring to become swollen due to moisture, and once it is damaged, it is near impossible to repair.

The third option, which tends to sit between laminate and real wood on the price scale, is engineered wooden flooring. Created by gluing multiple thin layers of wood together and adding a real wooden veneer on top, the design of engineered wooden flooring means that it can be sanded back and treated if the top layer becomes damaged.

Prices for engineered wooden flooring start at around £10 per square metre, but if you are looking for a hardwood finish you will end up paying far more.

The ideal places for engineered wood flooring are those where the temperature will be relatively stable, and the humidity won't change too much: although more hardwearing and stable than solid wood flooring, engineered wood can still be affected by changes in its environment.

Ultimately, the choice is yours: laminate, real wood and engineered wood all have their pros and cons, but the final decision will depend on where the floor is being laid, the environment, the style you are looking for and, of course, your budget.

Photo credit: Jonathon Monk

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