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Is Expensive Hardwood Worth It?

Just about everyone can appreciate the pleasing look of a well-planned home that incorporates hardwood into design elements. Some homeowners, motivated by the good looks of natural wood, go about drawing up plans to transform their carpeted space into one that incorporates an appealing, lasting wood style before considering the costs associated with such endeavors.

Upfront Costs Don’t Tell Full Story

Each flooring material available today varies in its purchase cost, as well as costs associated with installing it. When first considering a plan for Los Angeles, New York, or Austin flooring installation, many people conjure images of beautiful, wall-to-wall solid maple or birch planks, three-quarters-of-an inch thick by two-and-one-quarter inches wide. Planks usually come randomly cut, so that lengths vary and can be cut to suit situations faced by homeowners and contractors during installation.

Solid hardwood flooring can run $5-$10 per square foot, or even more for rare wood. By comparison, laminate costs $3-$7, and is it is said that it can “mimic nearly anything.” Installation costs for unfinished solid hardwood floors can run significantly above costs to install laminate or carpet, due to labor required to finish rough planks and build them together into a functioning floor.

Time: ‘Stick With Hardwood’

Despite the extra upfront cost, Time reports that, when it comes time for resale, homeowners looking for the most out of their investment dollars should “stick with hardwood.” While laminate floors do a good job of mimicking the appearance of other materials from a distance, close up they have “few qualities” of the material they are employed to copy, such as hardwood.

Further, laminate tends to not wear as well as hardwood, and because of its construction, worn planks in busy areas of the house can’t be sanded down and refinished. The same holds true for plywood-like flooring, covered in only a thin veneer of natural grain; most veneer flooring does not have enough extra material to allow it to be sanded and refinished.

Can Last A Lifetime

Even though solid hardwood can cost well more than double what it would cost to renovate with veneer or laminate flooring, there is no reason the same solid hardwood planks can’t be in place one hundred years later. Getting a long life out of hardwood flooring requires maintenance, including periodic sanding and refinishing, which means labor. About that same time that solid hardwood flooring will need to be refinished, laminate or wooden veneer flooring will likely need to be replaced.

Natural hardwood planks can be refinished several times, some wood veneers, but not all, can be refinished once, and laminates can not be refinished at all. Property owners who expect floors to be in use well into the future will find value with solid hardwood. Landlords and owners of rental properties, as well as those on tight budgets, will continue to find value with veneers and laminates, as well as other flooring options, such as vinyl, linoleum, and even tile.