How to tell the difference between hardwood and laminate flooring Image

How to tell the difference between hardwood and laminate flooring

By Lucas on Sep 20, 2017

Whether you’re touring a new model home, walking through an open house, or just trying to impress your friends, knowing how to tell the difference between hardwood and laminate flooring can come in handy!

Both types of flooring have their pros and cons. Hardwood is more expensive and requires a lot of maintenance, but it looks incredible since it’s solid wood. Laminate flooring is synthetic, making it more affordable, and it’s also more durable than hardwood. That said, hardwood is forever (if cared for properly) and laminate may need to be replaced in 25 to 30 years.

Hardwood or laminate flooring?

Laminate has become the standard in most new home communities, with hardwood being an upgrade or a standard in luxury projects. It makes sense to use laminate, especially in condo buildings, because of the affordability, ease of installation, and durability.  

These days, laminate flooring looks so good that most people can’t tell whether it’s hardwood or not - but there are ways.  

Here’s how to tell the difference between hardwood and laminate flooring (NOTE: these methods apply most of the time, but there are always exceptions):

1) Look for discolouration

Most laminates have a protective layer so the flooring won’t wear that much. Hardwood on the other hand can be affected by light and liquid. If you see any discolouration from water stains or faded spots in areas with a lot of light, then you’re standing on hardwood.

2) Look for dents

Hardwood or laminate flooring?

If you hit laminate hard enough with something, a chip could fly off, but you’re going to have to hit it really hard. Hardwood flooring is softer and more prone to dents and scratches. Even if it’s a new hardwood floor, there’s a chance you can find a dent or a natural indentation.

3) Look for staples

Laminate planks have a tongue and groove design for easy installation. There are some hardwoods that come with tongue and groove planks too, but hardwood can also be installed with staples or nails, especially in older homes. If you spot any staples or nails, you for sure have hardwood (unless it’s laminate trying really hard to look like hardwood).

4) Look at the wood grain

Laminate flooring will have a repeating pattern. It may not be obvious right away, but that’s only because you’re not looking for it. If you stare long enough, you will likely find boards with the same wood grain. Hardwood flooring is made from solid wood, so every board will be different. Depending on the wood, there may also be knots, and if you don’t see the same knot anywhere else, then you have yourself some hardwood.

We hope these tips come in handy during your new home search!

Sign-up for our Newsletter