Difference between Hardwood and Laminate

Key difference: Hardwood is the wood that comes from an angiosperm tree. This is a type of tree that has seeds that are enclosed, be it in pods, a shell, a covering or in a fruit. Hardwood tends to be long-lasting and durable. Due to this hardwoods are generally accepted as being the highest quality wood. Laminates, on the other hand, are a multi-layer synthetic flooring product. It is created high-density fiber, melamine resin or wood particles. On top, the laminate has a photographic applique layer, which is in turn covered with a clear protective layer.

Hardwood and softwood are two categories used to classify different types of woods. Many people consider that hardwood is named such because it is harder and denser than softwood. This is true often enough, but not all the time. Take for example the balsa wood, which is soft, light and less dense than most other woods, but is classified as a hardwood. The classification of the wood is not actually done on the basis of weight or density; rather it is done on the basis of plant reproduction.

Basically, hardwood is the wood that comes from an angiosperm tree. This is a type of tree that has seeds that are enclosed, be it in pods, a shell, a covering or in a fruit. For example, apples or nuts and seeds like acorns and walnuts. These types of seeds allow birds and insects to be attracted to the flowers of the tree and be able to carry the pollen to other trees. This is also the reason why hardwood trees are not often bunched together but are spaced apart and often have other trees in-between them.

Most hardwood trees are also deciduous is nature. A deciduous tree is a tree that loses its leaves annually. Hardwood trees are also slower to grow, taking their own time. Due to this, most hardwood is dense. This is also the reason that hardwood is expensive, as it takes longer to grow. Some famous hardwoods include maple, balsa, oak, elm, mahogany, and sycamore.

Hardwoods are used for various applications such as fuel, tools, construction, boat building, musical instruments, flooring, cooking, barrels, manufacture of charcoal, etc. However, most people relate hardwoods for use in home furnishing and furniture. The most commonly used hardwoods for furniture include oak, ash, acacia, mango and mahogany.

Furniture made with hardwood tends to be long-lasting and durable. Due to this hardwoods are generally accepted as being the highest quality wood. However, with the high density of most hardwoods, they have a tendency of splitting, due to which the carpenter has to take extra care while making a piece of furniture. Despite this, some hardwoods are preferred for a particular use. For example: maple and elm are often used for flooring, while balsa is preferred for models and lightweight wood projects as it is easy to work with.

Laminates, on the other hand, are a multi-layer synthetic flooring product. It is created high-density fiber, melamine resin or wood particles. On top, the laminate has a photographic applique layer, which is in turn covered with a clear protective layer. The photographic applique layer is usually imprinted with various images that aim to imitate the appearance of real wood.

Laminates are fairly new in the market, especially as compared to traditional wood. However, laminates have been steadily replacing wood, particularly in flooring. This is mainly because laminates provide the look of traditional wood for a fraction of the cost.

In addition to being cheaper, laminates are scratch-resistant, durable and easier to clean than traditional wood. It is easier to maintain, as the clear protective layer is resistant to pretty much everything except long exposure to water. This makes is longer lasting and well suited to be used in homes with kids and pets.

However, long time exposure to water or moisture may result in the laminate warping or ballooning. Laminates also tend to be thinner in size than wood. Moreover, the look of the laminate is set by the manufacturer, as opposed to wood that can be sanded and re-stained in any color of the stain available. Nonetheless, as the laminate is basically an image printed on it, the choice is pretty much limitless, and some manufacture may be willing to take custom orders. Still, laminates lack the visual warmth of wood.

Laminates also have a relatively shorter life-span as compared to traditional wood. The average life-span of laminate is between 10 to 20 years. It usually has a manufacturer warranty of 10 years. It is also very hard to repair laminates, if it is damaged in any way or has run its course, the entire thing will have to be replaced.

Another advantage to laminates is that they are environmentally friendly as they use less wood to be manufactured, if any at all. 

Image Courtesy: made-in-china.com

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