Is It Cheaper To Refinish Hardwood Floors Or Replace With Laminate?

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Hardwood floors receive much damage over time and require a new finish every few years. This is necessary to remove stains, scratches, scuff marks, and repair any damage that it might have taken over the years.

However, some homeowners consider it too much of a task and prefer to shift to laminate floors. But, there has been an endless debate about whether it is cheaper to refinish hardwood floors or replace them with laminate.

Refinishing hardwood floors is significantly cheaper than replacing them with laminate due to additional costs such as floor extraction and installation. While laminate is a viable option, it may lack the desired durability and strength compared to hardwood floors.

Refinish Hardwood Floors Or Replace With Laminate

However, there is a lot more to this debate than a clear verdict. Therefore, stay tuned, and let’s dive deeper into the topic.

What Are Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floors are a renowned flooring option made from different types of hardwood. This can be natural, synthetic, or engineered.

Engineered hardwood allows you versatility and variety in colors and designs for your home while offering additional durability and strength.

What Are Hardwood Floors?

Though it is made of real wood, it also comprises other composite materials such as veneer, vinyl, etc., making it even more robust.

While the core is made of plywood or hardwood, the top is usually layered with veneer for further protection and resistance against wear and tear factors.

Hence, it is more durable, strong, and has higher longevity than many other flooring solutions.

What Are Laminate Floors?

Laminate is a thin pressed wood board with repeated wood grain images printed for a wood-like appearance.

Many homeowners shift towards laminate flooring as it is considerably cheaper when compared to expensive hardwood flooring. Although it is not real wood, it is quite easy to install and gives the same appearance as real wood.

What Are Laminate Floors?

Moreover, the diversity in laminate is unmatched as it offers you a wide variety of colors, thicknesses, designs, and textures to choose from.

This allows you to select the right type of laminate to complement and adorn your existing furnishes and enhance the look even further.

In addition, laminate is also very durable and can be installed in all areas of your house regardless of the amount of traffic that they might receive.

New Laminate Vs Old Hardwood Floors

Indeed, laminate usually has a lower price per square foot, which is the main driving factor for many people who decide to replace their hardwood floorings.

However, they need to understand the complexity of the project and the other funds required for the job.

Besides, you would also need to get appropriate tools, machinery, and labor to get the task done, which will significantly increase the overall cost.

New Laminate Vs Old Hardwood Floors

Some people argue that hardwood floors scratch and scuff a lot, leading to a higher maintenance cost, and more often, refinishing would be required as compared to laminate.

However, this is not true. Laminate floors get scratched or scuffed and need as much maintenance as hardwood floors.

The only USP of the laminate floors is the low selling price, which is debunked due to the additional costs involved.

Moreover, higher quality laminate with a high AC rating is very expensive and might even cost you more than getting hardwood floors installed in your house.

In addition, if you combine this cost with the additional costs of getting a new floor, you will understand that there are better ideas than replacing your hardwood floors.

Furthermore, maintenance of hardwood floors might be a bit tricky or expensive, but at least it is possible. Once the hardwood floors are damaged, they can be fixed through refinishing and staining.

However, if laminate floors get damaged once, they can’t be fixed, and you will have to bear the cost of replacing them every time they get damaged or wear out.

Buffing and coating sessions will restore the shine of your hardwood floors, whereas laminate floors have a factory shine that gets dull after it receives some traffic, and there is no way you can bring the same thing back.

If you want your laminate floors to keep shining, you must polish them as frequently as twice a week, or they will quickly get dull.

This makes it easier and cheaper to maintain hardwood floors rather than having to afford low-quality laminate floors, which don’t even provide the same aesthetic to your house.

Many people argue that the vintage hardwood floors, which many people consider a nuisance, should not be refinished but replaced with laminate floors as the extent of damage they have received is not reversible.

Though this might vary from case to case, in most scenarios, vintage homes with old hardwood flooring can easily be restored in some time after proper care and attention.

For instance, if the floorings have worn out due to the tongue and groove, you can easily opt to replace the joints.

Besides, if they have taken too much wear and tear and there is a buildup of dirt on top, cleaning and sanding will take care of the latter, while staining and sealing can easily cater wear and tear of hardwood floors.

It is true that restoring old hardwood floors is not an easy task, but it is still worth it, provided the fact that it costs too less than replacing your existing hardwood floors.

At max, you would need to get a patch or replacement for your old hardwood floors (if they have rotten or have fallen subject to infestations such as termites), but they surely can be restored to their original grace in a short amount of time.

Which One Should You Choose?

If you are also trying to decide which options you should choose, the best recommendation would be to refinish existing hardwood floors rather than get new laminate ones. Below are some reasons why we think this is the most suitable decision.


Funds required to complete a project are one of the biggest concerns of homeowners whenever they see a new project sprouting up in their houses.

Both laminate and hardwood floors require a reasonable sum. However, many argue that laminate floors should be chosen over refinishing hardwood floors as they are inexpensive and readily available.

Besides, they are easier to install and maintain and should always be preferred over refinishing hardwood floors.

However, many other factors are involved in this scenario that one might only be able to understand once they are discussed fully.

The amount of time and money required to choose an entirely new type of flooring is way too much for a person who is occupied with their job or daily chores.

Choosing the new flooring type, the color, texture, grain, and thickness are factors that sound much fun but can be very tiresome once it comes to it. Even if you choose the right flooring specifications, many other steps are still involved.

Preparing the subfloor is yet another crucial step if you want to replace your existing floors with laminate. Even if you have subfloors installed previously, you will need to make adjustments according to the laminate.

Additional Costs

Many people turn to laminate because of the below installation and per square feet rates compared to hardwood. However, you might need to pay more attention to many other factors involved in this process.

Firstly, if you don’t want to get your hardwood floors refinished and want a laminate alternative, you will have to get the existing hardwood floor extracted.

This is a very complex job; if you don’t want your hardwood floors to get ruined, you will have to hire professional services for this, which would be an added expenditure.

Secondly, there needs to be an underlay or a vapor barrier between the subfloor and the laminate.

As laminate does not share the same level of thickness as hardwood, it needs protection against humidity and moisture not to get damaged. This makes the per-square-foot price go up by a significant number.

Once the hardwood floors have been extracted, you would need to wait for some time before the subfloor can be readjusted and the laminate can be installed.

Therefore, resulting in a room with no flooring, which can’t be used for some time. This leads to additional expenses for transitional pieces, such as installing baseboards.

Moreover, new flooring would also require a new paint which will match the color of the flooring with the walls or make it contrast (however you might prefer).

Moreover, the need to seal or polish the laminate floors (if necessary) for a better appearance and healthier look.

All of these costs increase the price of getting new laminate floors and make it far more expensive than refinishing your old hardwood floors.

Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

On average, the cost of refinishing a hardwood floor ranges from $3-$8. Doing our simple math would allow us to figure out that a 150 sq. ft room which is a size of 10×5, would cost you somewhere around $450 to $1,200.

The variable cost depends on the type of wood you have, the amount of damage or wear and tear it has received, and the type of cleaning, sealing, and buffing you may opt for.

Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Many people have developed a misconception that the cost of refinishing a hardwood floor is too much and that it is better to get the flooring extracted and move to a cheaper solution.

In their opinion, they can save a lot of money and also enjoy new flooring. Let’s find out whether this is just a misconception or a fact.

Using the same formula, a hardwood floor of 100 sq. ft would cost around $3000 – $8000 to be refinished.

However, you can keep a margin of $500 – $1000 based on factors such as the size of the house, access to the house, labor costs in the area, quantity and quality of the materials, and the cost of preparation, sanding, staining, and sailing.

The price might also vary depending on other factors, such as unfinished work taken up by another contractor, the type of hardwood floors you have, the extent of damage and the materials/labor required to fix that, and the post-process cleanup charges.

All of these would be combined to reduce the cost of your hardwood floor refinishing. However, this cost can be reduced by a major factor if you can do the task yourself. At least 40% of the cost mentioned above is labor cost which can be eliminated if you are going to take on the project yourself.

All you would need is the materials required to refinish and a rented sanding machine. This task would require a lot of time and energy.

If you are willing to put in the effort, you might save a lot of money. On average, you can save at least $2000 on the project by doing it yourself, and the maximum possible concession you will get from DYing the project would be roughly $5000.

However, you must only take up this project if you think you can pull it off, as a small sanding or staining mistake can turn out to be pretty expensive in terms of repair, and in worst-case scenarios, you might even have to get your floors replaced after all.

Hiring a contractor is expensive, but it will keep your mind at ease and will also allow the task to be carried out smoothly without any mess-ups.

Whereas if you want to do the task yourself, you will have a hectic time with many possibilities of mess ups, but you will save a ton of money.

Cost of Laminate Floors

Usually, it costs around $800 to $1450 to laminate a 150 room which is the same 10×5 size as mentioned in the case of hardwood floors.

For those astonished at this sum, it includes all the prices, such as installing new floors, materials, labor costs, extraction of old hardwood floors, and everything that might be included in the process.

Cost of Laminate Floors

This makes the per-square-foot price go very high resulting in a big overall sum. Moreover, this price compared with the hardwood flooring refinishing cost, which was between $3 to $8 per square foot, you will realize that the cost of new laminate floors is way too high.

Refinishing a 150 sq. ft room costs around $450 to $1200, while the same dimensions would cost you $800 to $1450 for laminate.

According to this calculation, you can save approximately $250 when refinishing the floors and not moving to laminate.

Besides, this is the amount you saved on one room; depending on how big the house is and how many sq. ft. of flooring you have installed, you can easily save 1000 dollars when refinishing hardwood floors.

In addition, if you take the job yourself, you might save as much as $6000 on your flooring project if it’s too big.

Besides, if you go for a mediocre range refinish for your hardwood floors and even hire a professional, you will still get almost $1500 – $2500 saved on your project.

Moreover, if you are considering getting new hardwood floors rather than laminate instead of finishing the existing ones, you will still be spending more than you should.

Installing a new hardwood floor can cost $8 -$14 per foot, which means that a room of 150 sq. ft will demand a budget of $1200 to $2100.

Conversely, refinishing the hardwood floors will cost around $450 to $1200. This way you can save at least 50% of the amount if you opt for refinishing.

Is It Cheaper To Refinish Hardwood Floors Or Replace With Laminate?

Getting your existing hardwood floors refinished is always cheaper than replacing them with newer laminate floors, If you think about the long run.

Getting new floors is certainly not a good idea if you are concerned about the budget required. Refinishing hardwood floors is way cheaper and a sustainable method that will allow you to keep your money saved for some time.

However, getting new laminate floors would mean that once damaged, they can’t be restored or fixed, and after a certain amount of wear and tear, you might have to replace them once again.

In areas with mild traffic, they may last up to 4 or even 5 years, but in areas with heavy traffic, your laminate floors will not last more than 1.5 years. This means you would have to replace them twice every three years.

Whereas refinishing hardwood floors allows for the repairing and restoring of existing hardwood floors and saves you from spending hefty amounts on getting new floors.

Besides, even in heavy traffic areas, a good refinishing session will last you 2 years easily, and if the traffic is low, you can expect the finish to last somewhere between 3-5 years.

Hence, if you consider the years ahead, laminate is not a sustainable option as it would need to be changed every 2 years, whereas hardwood floors can be maintained and sustained easily.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Hardwood Floors With Laminate?

The base cost of laminate flooring is very cheap but this cost goes up to around $800 to $1450 for a 150 room which is the same 10×5 size when you add all the additional costs. For those who are astonished at this sum, it includes all the prices such as:

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Hardwood Floors With Laminate?
  • Installation of new floors
  • Construction material
  • Labor costs
  • Extraction of old hardwood floors
  • Clean Up Costs
  • Transportation of material
  • Renting Machinery
  • Legal Permits (if required)

This makes the per-square-foot price go very high resulting in a big overall sum. Moreover, this price compared with the hardwood flooring refinishing cost, which was between $3 to $8 per square foot, you will realize that the cost of new laminate floors is way too high.

The cost of refinishing a 150 sq. ft room is around $450 to $1200, while the same dimensions would cost you $800 to $1450 when it comes to laminate.

Hence, you are paying at least $1000 more when you decide to get a new laminate floor over a refinished old hardwood floor.

This extra amount can go up to $5000 depending on the size of your flooring and what grade of laminate and other materials you are buying.

Why Choose Laminate Over Hardwood?

Laminate is affordable, offers easy installation, is extremely durable, and offers a great diversity of colors and other options.

All the discussion above does not mean that laminate is complete trash, and you should not get it under any circumstances.

Laminate also has its place in the flooring industry and is a well-versed high-selling product many homeowners prefer.

Here are a few factors which might aid your decision to get new laminate floors:

  • Laminate is prefinished and saves you the cost of an extra finishing session. Moreover, it is also scratch and water-resistance (the resistance level varies with quality grades), making them excellent for areas with high traffic. Moreover, being resistant to most of the wear and tear factors means that they require far less maintenance when compared to other flooring options.
  • Although it might not compare well with the cost of refinishing hardwood floors, it saves you loads of money compared to installing new hardwood floors. Hence, if you are running on a budget and want decent flooring in your house, laminate is your best option in such a scenario. While new hardwood floors will cost you somewhere between $1200 to $2100, new laminate floors will cost you only around $600 to $1000. However, these costs refer to only the price of the materials and not labor or installation charges.
  • If you are a real estate investor and buy houses not to stay long in them but to improve the property’s overall value and flip it, laminate is your best option. It does not require too much effort and expense and will still provide a decent return on investment on your property.
  • If you want your home designed with a certain theme and getting the right hardwood has become a noose around your neck, laminate floors are here to save you yet again. With an almost unlimited variety of textures, grains, prints, colors, and thicknesses, you can never go wrong in designing the theme of your house with laminate floors. It is truly said that there is a laminate for every budget. Hence, regardless of your budget, you will surely get what you are looking for with laminate.
  • If you want to renovate your bathroom or kitchen, you must go for laminate as it would offer you a greater diversity to design and decorate and also proves to be resilient in such environments. Due to its water-resistant nature, it performs extremely well in areas with high moisture or humidity.

Can Laminate Look As Good As Wood?

Most people prefer the look of laminate over hardwood floors, although this usually depends on the taste of the individual.

The main reason is that laminate is customizable and can be chosen according to the existing theme and textures present in the house.

Whereas hardwood floors are more rigid in this scenario and demand the house’s look be designed around them.

Besides, hardwood is usually preferred by people who like a unique taste and is considered an expensive and exquisite selection.

As it is generally priced higher than laminate, it is considered a luxury that not everyone can afford or like.

Hence, rarer varieties of hardwood that are unique in their appearance or have gone extinct are priced at tens of dollars per foot.

Does Replacing Hardwood With Laminate Decrease Home Value?

Hardwood floors are an investment and often give way better returns when compared with laminate. Installing a hardwood floor in your house can mean you will get at least a 70% return on your investment.

In some scenarios where the value of hardwood floors is higher than that of laminate ones, you won’t get as much return on investment on laminate as you would on hardwood floors.

Does Replacing Hardwood With Laminate Decrease Home Value?

Translating this would make us realize that an investment of $3000 on hardwood floors would give your property an appraisal of at least $2100 (in the best condition).

However, the ROI of laminate floors lies somewhere between 40-50%. Hence, replacing your hardwood floors with laminate ones would mean that you won’t get the same ROI as before.

Therefore, it is always better to refinish your hardwood floors rather than replace them, as you will be losing your investment in such scenarios.

Can You Put Laminate Over Original Hardwood?

It is possible to install laminate directly on a hardwood floor if the laminate has a built-in underlayer. The hardwood floor would act as a base and a subflooring for your laminate layer, and no extraction or further preparation would be required.

However, if there is a dirt buildup on your hardwood floors, make sure to clean it up first and sand it down if necessary.

This is because the buildup can create uneven bumps, which might damage the laminate flooring and put extra pressure on certain areas causing cracking, deshaping, or even breaking in some scenarios.

However, considering the hardwood floors’ value, placing the laminate directly over hardwood floors is not advisable. If the floor is too antique and not repairable, then you should proceed with this.

But if refinishing the floor is a suitable cure, you will only be wasting thousands of dollars of flooring investment while spending another few grand foolishly on laminate.

Does Hardwood Last Longer Than Laminate?

Hardwood floors are more durable and certainly last longer than laminate. Although laminate floors are more resilient when their features are discussed, they don’t last much longer when it comes to traffic and factors of wear and tear.

Usually, the main advantage that laminate floors have over hardwood floors is that they are water and scratch-resistant.

This should make them more durable, especially in moist and heavy-traffic areas. However, a noteworthy point is that laminate floors are very thin as compared to hardwood which makes them not as durable.

Moreover, this thin structure makes them more vulnerable to wear and tear as they don’t have much fibers to support them.

Besides, hardwood floors can be refinished and sanded down to bring back their original appearance and this process can be repeated at least 6-7 times. But this is not the case with laminate floors.

Laminate can’t be repaired or sanded mainly because of the pre-finished attribute it has, and the thin structure which makes it impossible to sand it down without damaging it. Hence, hardwood floors are much more durable and last longer than laminate.

Bottom Line

It is always a reasonable option to get your hardwood floors refinished rather than replacing them with new laminate floors. Not only is the process expensive, but it is also very time taking and involves too many complexities.

Moreover, there is a high chance that you can get your hardwood floors damaged in the process to the point where you might have to discard them and lose your hefty investment.

Hardwood floors are a far more durable and sustainable option which makes them supreme over laminate.

Getting new laminates is only suitable if you are really tight on a budget and you want to install the floor over existing hardwood or if you are a real estate investor and you want to flip the house after minimal adornments.

If you do not fall into any of the categories mentioned above, you must always prefer your existing hardwood floors and get them a decent refinish which will surely last a few years before another coat is required.

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