For years, hardwood has been the flooring of choice. The warmth and beauty it brings to the home is irreplaceable and the extended lifetime of the floor compared to others makes it an economical choice, even with the high front-end cost. In fact, hardwood flooring has become so popular; people with older homes have pulled up the carpeting to refinish the hardwood underneath. Others have upgraded their flooring with fresh, new hardwood floors that are sanded and stained on their own. Yet while many homeowners have made the necessary changes to get the look they wanted, some struggled with the limitations of hardwood.

Solid wood floors cannot be installed in below grade applications such as basements. They are also not recommended in rooms with full baths and have the drawbacks of being soft, easily dented and susceptible to moisture. The installation process is also time-consuming and labor intensive, as unfinished floors need to be sanded down and stained, and all wood planks require a tedious hammer and nail installation. Not to mention, the high cost of hardwood deters many homeowners, as well as the longer installation process, as hardwood planks need to acclimate to their surroundings before being installed.

Although wood laminate flooring has been around since the 1970s, it has gained much of its popularity in recent years. Laminate flooring may not be made from solid wood, but it offers the same natural look for a lesser cost. The top layer of laminate is a real photograph of wood, so the planks have the characteristic grain patterns of real wood. When installed, laminate offers a seamless look throughout the home that rivals hardwood floors. But there are more advantages than just cost and appearance.

While hardwood leaves homeowners with many limitations, laminate overcomes these problems. Wood laminate flooring can be installed anywhere, including basements and full baths. While the flooring isn’t completely moisture-resistant, it offers a barrier that solid wood cannot. If you know that you’ll be installing the laminate in a high-moisture area, be sure that you invest in a quality subflooring. The subfloor will absorb moisture and offer more time to clean up spills. Superior subflooring also offers excellent noise and sound reduction, which also lends a hand to a more natural sound when walking on the laminate.

Laminate can also be easily installed, meaning that you not only save on the cost of installation by a professional, but the job can be completed in a day or two. Most laminates use a tongue and groove installation process that snaps each piece together. The baseboards are removed and then reinstalled, and a saw cutter can cut the boards to fit around doors and closets. And since all laminate is purchased in a finished form, you never have to worry about sanding or staining the floors.

Wood laminate flooring is available in an abundance of wood species, grain patterns and colors. When shopping through manufacturers, you can browse according to the color or look of your choice. For example, maybe you want flooring in a rich, dark stain. Or, perhaps you want laminate flooring that rivals oak or walnut. There are also choices in gloss finishes, as some homeowners prefer a semi- or high-gloss, while others enjoy a more rugged, less glossy look.

Thanks to modern technology, wood laminate flooring continues to improve and look more natural. While people once criticized laminate for its artificial appearance and hollow sound, these drawbacks are now being overcome and perfected. Laminate flooring is a smart, cost-effective choice that can offer your home the warmth and aesthetic appeal it deserves.

Author's Bio: 

Charlie Dima writes out of Earth City, MO about home improvement tips and DIY projects, including designing with wood laminate flooring. Always looking for the most affordable prices and well-known brands, she tends to end up shopping at more often than not.