One of the most important questions any home owner needs to ask before installing flooring is: how long will that flooring last? Of course the majority of that answer is dependent on how the flooring is maintained, regardless of what material it’s made from. Other longevity factors are what climate the home is located in and is it a home where pets reside?
Regardless of these specifics, each type of flooring does have a built-in shelf life, and you should take this into account before purchasing and installing any material in your home.
Not all laminate flooring is created equal. Most manufacturers offer a wide price range and it’s because of this many homeowners are attracted to this material. Those on a tight budget often turn to laminate floors, but the cheaper the flooring, the fewer years you can expect to get out of it.
Although it looks like hardwood, laminate is actually composed of multiple layers of synthetic material. This means it cannot be sanded down and refinished as real hardwood floors can be, which means you’ll get far fewer years out of it than the real stuff.
A good laminate floor which has been installed correctly and properly maintained will last 10-15 years.
The lifespan of carpeting isn’t a black and white question. This material, more than any other, is subject to influences such as who and what live in your home, what the climate is of where you live, and how the carpet is maintained. Another major factor is what the carpeting is manufactured from. A wool carpet may last much longer than a cheaper synthetic carpet which can fray easily after time.
Most homeowners change out their carpeting every 3-5 years because of stains and daily wear and tear. Because of this, carpeting, though it offers warmth and nice cushioning under the feet, simply doesn’t offer as much bang for your buck as other flooring materials.
Like laminate, vinyl is a material that is offered in a wide range of prices. And, like those who buy laminate, homeowners tend to buy vinyl mainly due to its affordability.
The longevity of this flooring option is dependent on both the thickness of it and the top wear layer. Some of the thicker vinyl floors on the market come with warranties as long as 25 years. The thinner vinyl floors will generally last between 5 and 10 years. That’s quite a difference. If you’re attracted to the look and feel of vinyl and have the budget to afford the thicker product, it’s a wise idea to invest in it.
When asking about the lifespan of hardwood floors, you’re really asking about the lifespan of the finish. The hardwood planks themselves are generally quite thick and can last for 30, 50 or even 100 years, as seen in houses over a century old.
When discussing the finish of hardwood floors, you need to take into account the amount of foot traffic (or paw traffic) and the amount of maintenance performed. Different finish types will require different maintenance routines. For example, some finishes will only require light cleaning to maintain the beauty and luster, while others may require semi-annual waxing or buffing, or in some cases, recoating every 5 years.
So, how long do wood floors last? Much longer than the finish.
You’ll forgive us if we now boast a bit about – we can’t help it, we’re fans of the stuff. In fact if you don’t know about bamboo floors we recommend checking out this amazing product at Bamboo Flooring 101: A Beginner’s Guide.
Bamboo offers consumers the best of both worlds: while it may be a bit pricier than laminate (in some case only an extra $1 per square foot), it is still far less expensive than hardwood but still offers the same beauty and warmth as hardwood.
Where it beats laminate and vinyl, though, is that it can be sanded down and refinished. So, for not much more than laminate flooring, you’re looking at a lifespan of 30+ years as opposed to 10-15. We call that a win/win.