Hardwood vs Laminate – Which Is Best?

29th September 2022
First Floors - living room

Wood flooring has a timeless appeal thanks to the variety of colours and finishes available to bring out the character of your home and enhance a room’s aesthetic. Solid or engineered hardwood flooring and laminate flooring are the two most popular ways to achieve this classic look, but which is right for your home? There are a few factors to consider when making your decision:


When decorating your home, you want the finished project to look its best, and ultimately which of the two options looks better is a personal opinion. 

Real wood flooring, whether it’s solid or engineered, has the natural features of wood so will have characteristic knots and rings, offering an unmistakable elegant look, especially when seen up-close. The grooves in the boards offer rich colour and deep texture as the light moves throughout the day.

Laminate flooring, by contrast, isn’t made of wood; it’s printed with a wood pattern. This means that it has a smooth finish rather than the natural texture of real wood, although some laminate patterns include knots and texture for a more authentic look.

Durability and maintenance

Solid wood flooring is loved for its ability to practically last forever with the right care, so makes an excellent investment in a period property or forever home, but keeping it looking pristine does require a degree of effort. Regular cleaning with products designed for your floor type is an important part of the maintenance schedule, as is applying a new coat of finish every three to five years to renew the colour and shine of the boards. Solid hardwood floors will need to be sanded and refinished, although this is usually a once-a-decade event. 

Engineered wood flooring only has a top layer of solid wood, known as the wear layer, which doesn’t require as much maintenance as solid wood flooring. This type of flooring can be refreshed, but that’s usually only necessary if there is noticeable widespread damage or if you want to change the colour of the wood.

Getting the look of wood flooring with minimal maintenance is the primary selling point of laminate flooring. Its melamine surface makes it scratch-resistant, but of course not scratch-proof, and laminate flooring won’t fade. As long as you are careful, laminate flooring should stand up to daily life with very little maintenance, although it doesn’t offer the same longevity as solid wood options.


Overall, laminate flooring tends to cost less than solid and engineered hardwood. If you are undertaking a big project or purchasing new flooring for a large space, high-quality laminates can offer a good balance between mimicking the look of the real deal and a more accessible price.

Engineered and solid hardwood flooring come in at a higher price point, for which you get the lasting quality and natural finish of real wood. These types of flooring are widely considered an investment as they are less susceptible to wear than laminate and, especially in the case of solid hardwood flooring, can be repaired and refinished indefinitely.

Where it can go 

It’s probably clear by now that solid wood flooring has quite a few requirements to perform at its best, and where in your home it works best is another one to consider. Because wood is a natural material, it expands and contracts as temperature and moisture levels change. This means that rooms where these aren’t consistent, like kitchens and bathrooms, aren’t a good fit because the floor is at risk of warping and cracking. Solid wood flooring instead makes a perfect choice for rooms where environmental factors are more stable, like living rooms or bedrooms.

Engineered wood flooring combats some of these issues because only the top layer is made from real wood, so the expansion gap that is left during installation will be sufficient for the floor to cope with atmospheric changes without getting damaged. However, you do still need to be wary of water and clean up any spills and splashes straight away. Anything greasy or acidic (like tomatoes) can cause staining that is at best tricky, and at worst impossible, to remove.

Laminate flooring is suitable for any room; just make sure to choose one of the many new waterproof generation products. The absence of grooves on its surface also makes laminate flooring a hygienic choice in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms where harmful bacteria are more common.

Award-winning flooring from First Floors

Looking for flooring companies in Glasgow? At First Floors, we’ve been supplying and fitting wood, laminate, carpet, and luxury vinyl flooring to homes across Scotland since 1994. Visit our award-winning Giffnock showroom or get in touch to experience our full product range, find out more about our price match guarantee and free home consultations, and choose the new flooring that will bring your home to life.

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Customer Reviews

First Floors

Customer Reviews

Jim Hillier 1st June 2022

Absolutely Delighted with the Conduct and Quality of Work. My Wife and I decided to replace our Bedroom Carpet and lay down wooden flooring for our Hall. We noticed that there was a possible supplier for flooring at first floors shop on Fenwick Road. We met up with David and Graham and explained that we were looking for quality products for both Items. We were shown flooring possibilities from their extensive range of designs and thicknesses and soon found a product that we were interested in. We were delighted to find out that they had carpet selections at the back of the shop which surprised us; you could not appreciate the size of the place from the shop front! We chose a carpet that we thought met our specifications and were given a reasonable sized sample to take home to see how it would look in our room taking into account of our particular lighting conditions. First Floors sent out a guy to take measurements for floor, accessory fittings and carpet.
Being very happy with the proposition given to us and estimates of work completion dates and prices we went ahead with the order. Graham kept us updated with the schedule and I am happy to say that the work was carried out on time and was completed to a very high quality with which we were both delighted with.
I would be happy to reference this company for anyone who is interested in upgrading their floors or replacing carpets.

Alastair Barrie 2nd June 2022

Good selection, service and fitting.We were able to take home some samples to select the carpet that was just right for our room. There was a delay in our furniture arriving and First Floors were very accommodating in putting our fitting date back to suit. The fitting went very well indeed - couldn’t have been easier.

Olive Leitch 1st May 2022

Excellent service from First Floors. All staff including fitters have been helpful and gave a friendly professional service. My new stair carpet has been fitted very well and already received many complements

Linda McBrearty 27th April 2022

Excellent service with care. On our first visit to the showroom, David advised and helped us with our choice but never rushed us and gave us lots of confidence in making our final choice of engineered wooden flooring. Our new build home was delayed for a few months and during this time David and his team waited patiently with us until the flooring was able to be fitted! The fitting throughout our new house was more than excellent. The care and attention to detail was everything we could have hoped for, our thanks to the fitting team. We would have no hesitation in recommending First Floors, their professionalism and customer service was 100%.

Anna Smylie April 2021

Fantastic service. David gave me great advice on which flooring would be most suitable for my business premises. Within the week Steven came to fit the flooring and, as promised, was in and out in a day. Can’t recommend this local Company enough. Anna Smylie ZuZu Giffnock.

Dawn Henry November 2021

We recently purchased engineered oak flooring and carpets from First Floors. The customer service from David and team was exceptional. We had just moved home from overseas and bought a house with no floors so we did not have access to allow First Floors to measure. Theye allowed us to use our own measurements as we wanted the floors laid ASAP once we had the keys. The floor is beautiful and laid very professionally (thanks Steven). The carpets are also lovely and exactly what I wanted. The only thing I would change about the experience would be to have First Floors assess the house in advance. We have fire doors which were a problem the day the carpets were laid. This was not the issue of First Floors and it was resolved quickly. Thanks again David, we would highly recommend First Floors to anyone.

Ian and Lesley Proctor January 2022

Another Great Job Done!!
Just had our third floor project in seven years completed by First Floors once again.
Great service from David and his showroom team from assisting in the selection of materials through to arranging the installation. Chris and his team worked tidily and efficiently on the hardwood flooring with great attention to detail. Gordon who fitted the stair carpet was very professional in his work and was able to resolve some problematic details to our entire satisfaction.
Would definitely recommend First Floors.

Gavin Reid 18/08/20

We recently had First Floors install laminate flooring in our lounge and hallway and are absolutely delighted with the final result! It has been finished to a high standard with great attention to detail.

Having had a rough idea of what we were looking for, David helped find the perfect flooring for both rooms.

We were booked in quickly and kept informed throughout the process.

We would definitely recommend and use again.

Christine Sharp 23/08/20

Wee have recently had a new laminate floor laid in our upstairs hall. We are very happy with the result and feel the level of workmanship and finishing detail was excellent

Chris Milne 30/08.20

Excellent service from first point of contact. Staff took time to discuss and review options, then worked to suitable timescale based around my schedule.
Work completed on time and to a very high standard, delighted with results.