Laminate can now rival handscraped hardwood

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The look of a traditional handscraped, hardwood floor is now available in a more affordable laminate. Laminate flooring has always been a much more inexpensive method of installing a hard-surface floor. Installation is also much easier, But until now laminate has been limited to more “polished” and higher finish looks. Reproducing the look of the handmade craftsmanship evident in old-style hardwood flooring has been difficult. Early laminate even carried a reputation as something sold only in low-end discount retail stores. In the past twenty years, laminate has become an equal choice with hardwood as a flooring option.

Traditionally, hardwood floors were scraped by hand. Craftsmen used planing tools to level the planks and create as even of a floor as possible. When modern sanders came to the scene, this method was shelved in favor of the faster, more even finish that came with a sander.

But now, homeowners wishing to bring a warmer, richer feel to their flooring have rediscovered handscraped wood. But that rediscovery brings a much higher price tag and longer installation time. handscraped hardwood had been reserved for only the upper echelon of home owners and renovators.

Enter the handscraped look to the laminate market. Laminate is not “real” wood. It is a reproduction of a wood finish. New technologies now allow for a reproduction of the hand-scrapping on each laminate plank. The planks now can feature bevels, pitting and rutting similar to true hardwood. Homeowners can choose from a wide variety of colors. They can also pick different widths of planks to cater to their specific room details.

But the advantage in handscraped laminate is in the installation and maintenance. The laminate floor floats. It usually requires little or no glue. Nailing is not necessary. Because of the nature of laminate, the floor requires no waxing after it has been installed. There is no need to refinish the floor after a number of years, as the laminate does not wear like the varnish of a hardwood floor. Laminate flooring, including the newer handscraped designs, feature at least three layers. Each is engineered and finished in a manner to provide a longer-lasting product than hardwood. The wear surfaces are now coated to protect from liquids better than traditional hardwood. But yet the cost of laminate still tracks well below hardwood.

A new option for a traditional, handscraped look is available in laminate. It’s an option worth considering for budget and time conscious homeowners looking for the heritage of hardwood with the ease of laminate.

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Rob Woods

Rob served as BuildDirect's marketing manager from 2000 to 2010. In addition to heading up his own marketing company these days, he remains to be a handy guy around the house to this day.