Hardwood, Laminate or Vinyl: Which Would You Choose?

I love the look of real wood floors, and I’m not the only one. “Hardwood flooring throughout” is the number one phrase in North American real estate listings. But as much as I love them, they’re not always the right answer for every project. Budget, climate, and even the style of house can have an impact on what kind of flooring you should use. Here are three examples of my favourite wood and wood-look floors from my recent renovations.

Hardwood (Solid)

Hardwood floors are made from solid wood (usually 3/4 – inch thick) and can last for 100 years or more. I like to use them as often as I can – particularly in historic homes where I want to uphold the integrity and character of the home.

Where can you use it? Given its susceptibility to moisture and humidity, solid hardwood should only be used at or above grade, and in climates without drastic changes in humidity from season to season. Engineered hardwood on the other hand, which is made with a solid hardwood wear layer fixed to a core, is less susceptible to moisture and can be used in basements.

Reasons to Use Hardwood: Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished multiple times over its lifespan, which can save you big bucks on replacement costs down the road. And its beauty can’t be beat.


Laminate flooring is essentially layers of adhered fibreboard with an image of real wood printed on top. It’s much more scratch-resistant than real hardwood and comes at a lower price point. I’ve used it in many of my renovations for those two reasons.

Where can you use it? Just about anywhere; living room, dining room, dens, hallways, bedrooms, etc. wherever there isn’t excessive moisture. It’s a floating installation, so it’s a popular choice for below, at, or above grade.

Reasons to Use Laminate: It’s inexpensive and durable. I’ve used it many of my rental properties over the years and it’s always help up very well.



Vinyl flooring consists of pieces of vinyl that are either printed with a pattern or an image that mimics stone or wood (much like laminate). Vinyl plank flooring, which is made to mimic hardwood, has come a long way over the last decade and many products on the market now rival laminate as a hardwood alternative.

Where can you use it? Vinyl plank flooring is extremely durable and waterproof, making it a natural choice for basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. I recently did some renovations in Florida, and vinyl was the perfect choice for the humid climate.

Reasons to Use Vinyl: Besides being waterproof, vinyl plank flooring is also very thin, making it great for basements with low ceilings where you can’t afford to lose much height. Also, vinyl planks almost always use either a “click” or adhesive installation system, making them very DIY friendly – you can even cut the planks with a utility knife!


As you can see, all three types of flooring worked in these homes for various reasons. So before you decide which flooring is best for your renovation, make sure to consider all the different options.

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