Tile vs Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring: Which Type is Best for You?

Colorful blue and red patterned tile wall

When it comes to installing new flooring in your home, you have big choices to make. There is a bevy of flooring options including tile, laminate, and hardwood available in the market today.

Deciding which one is right for you is really dependent on the room you have selected to refloor, how much use the room will have, and the appearance you are trying to achieve. 

So, whether you are debating between tile vs hardwood or tile vs laminate or even laminate vs hardwood, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about each.

Tile Flooring

​Tile flooring is a hard surface material that is constructed of ceramic, stone, metal, or glass. It is very durable in its design and most often is applied to floors or walls, such as your shower wall. . You’ll find tile comes in a variety of patterns, colors, and textures, allowing you to achieve the exact look you want for your room.

Tile flooring is typically showcased in a square pattern with many choosing more intricate designs or mosaic patterns to fill out the room. Tile comes in square or rectangle dimensions ranging from 6x6 to 24x24 inches.

Nowadays, you can also find tile in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Also, a new popular trend is to use tile that looks (and feels) like hardwood flooring. it comes in long planks, just like hardwood. You get the benefits of tile flooring while having the appearance of hardwood floors.

Colorful blue and red patterned tile wall

Installing tile flooring is ideal for bathrooms or rooms with moisture issues or where the walls or floor will become wet at some point.

It will help in keeping the bathroom clean much easier. It is able to withstand high traffic patterns and can be cleaned easily with various bathroom cleaning solutions, bleach, or even just soap and water.

​Tile Flooring Applications

​The applications for tile flooring are extensive as many find its easy installation the perfect project to attempt on their own. With nothing more than a great tile saw, a home DIYer can learn how to tile a room in their house. 

  • Tile can be installed in virtually any room of your home where you want a look that will last through the years, and with easy maintenance as well.
  • You’ll most often see tile flooring in kitchens or bathrooms where simple clean-up is needed, and moisture is present.
  • Tile can also be affixed to showers, walls, or even counters and tabletops. You don't need to only use it as flooring.
  • It also works well in a room that will get a lot of use and wear as it can stand up to harsh demands without showing any signs of aging.

You do need to keep in mind that tile is a cold surface and it may not be as friendly and inviting as carpet or other surface types. Tile can crack or chip if a heavy object is dropped on it.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is another hard surface material that mimics the look of hardwood flooring. It is created by using multiple layers that are fused or laminated together to provide a great deal of strength and durability.

It too comes in a limitless array of patterns and colors, so you can match it to your room décor. Because laminate flooring resembles wood to some degree, you are able to have a flooring surface that is economical without the upkeep which traditional hardwood floors require. When it comes to cleaning this flooring, vacuums specializing in hardwood floors can work well on laminate as well.

Related: How are bamboo and laminate floors different?

The inner core of laminate flooring incorporates melamine resin and fiberboard. On the surface of laminate is a clear protective layer that resists wear and traffic patterns. Laminate flooring is easy-to-install with many homeowners attempting the project on their own.

It is also considered more hypoallergenic as it resists germs with its antimicrobial resin in some products. Cleaning requires a laminate floor vacuum with rubber wheels so you don't scratch the floor's surface. 

Man in brown boat shoes stands on top of light brown laminate flooring

​Laminate Flooring Applications

​Laminate flooring is an ideal surface for many rooms within your home. Many homeowners choose to install laminate, as it is easy to work with and relatively inexpensive. 

  • Laminate is an an affordable material that homeowners can install themselves. It is even easier to install than tile flooring.
  • Laminate flooring typically has a lock-and-click installation which can easily be placed within your home as a do-it-yourself project.
  • Laminate flooring ​works well in large areas where you are cleaning requently, such as the living room and dining room, because of how simple it is to tidy up. 
  • Adding laminate to a large space also works well based on its overall lower price tag.

Related: Should You have Carpet or Laminate Flooring?

Because laminate has an appearance that resembles traditional hardwood flooring, many homeowners choose this product for their home based on its ability to resist scratches and scuffs.

Laminate flooring is very easy to keep clean. Even a mop or cheap vacuum cleaner can pick up dirt and dust on its surface. From there, you can make a home cleaning product or use a mild cleaner made for laminate specifically can help you keep its luster.

Hardwood Flooring

​Hardwood flooring is constructed using wood timber. It comes in a range of finishes which can match your existing woodwork or create a contrasting look.

Solid hardwood floors use different types of wood that are milled into planks. They are either nailed, glued, or snapped together for installation.

Hardwood flooring can be engineered or created from solid wood. Solid hardwoods have a thicker surface that can be refinished multiple times. Floors that are engineered hardwood have a top layer of solid wood that allows you to refinish its surface only a few times.

Some consider bamboo flooring a type of hardwood. Don't leave out the various kinds of plywood flooring available from your conversations either. 

Hardwood floors are an elegant and gorgeous way to decorate your flooring. The preferred option of many, they are typically more expensive than other ​flooring choices.

​Want the best of both worlds? Today, they make a tile flooring that looks, and even feels, like hardwood flooring. You'll get all of the benefits of having a tile floor, but you'll also get the look for hardwood.

​Hardwood Flooring Applications

​Hardwood has many applications within a home. Hardwood floor does require an additional amount of care as it can be scratched or dented easily if you are not careful. You'll want to deep clean the hard wood flooring every few months to keep it in good shape. 

  • ​It works well in a living room or bedroom or other space where a clean look is demanded.
  • It works well in large entry ways, giving your home an elegance and sophistication thanks to the rich wood look and feel.

Many times, you might have hardwood flooring underneath your carpets. Many new homeowners go to replace carpet, only to find they have gorgeous, old flooring that just needs a little TLC

Because hardwood flooring has a lacquer applied to its surface, it can be cleaned just by using a dust mop. It is recommended you only use approved solutions to thoroughly clean it or you could dull or ruin the finish and require resurfacing.

You can also vacuum hardwood flooring, provided you have a good hardwood floor vacuum. This type of flooring is fragile, and once damaged, almost impossible to restore back to its original condition.

Specialized hardwood floor vacuums for pet hair can keep the mess at bay, if you have furry one running around. Otherwise, consider investing in a quality hardwood floor vacuum for maintenance.

Related: Is it Better to Dust or Vacuum First?

Tile vs Laminate vs Hardwood Flooring

​When you look at your options for tile, laminate, or hardwood flooring, it can seem overwhelming. Each has their own advantages as well as some drawbacks.

  • Rooms with low to medium traffic will do well with hardwood flooring while a high traffic area will be best fitted with tile or laminate.
  • ​​Of the three, tile is the most durable while hardwood is the most susceptible to scratches, dents, and scuffs. ​
  •  is a mid-grade material which can withstand some abuse, but over time will show wear if not properly cared for.

Related: 6 Situations When Stick Vacuums Are Ideal 

Where will your flooring be?

It also matters where you will be placing the floor and what kind of use you have planned for the room. Where you install your flooring can also make a difference on what type of material you should choose.

  • Tile flooring is a good bet for cleaning kitchens and ​​for showers where moisture is an issue.
  • It will also work well in a basement that has some moisture problems as it can withstand getting wet without ruining the integrity of the tile.
  • Rooms with no moisture issues, such as a living room or bedroom, are ideally suited for hardwood or laminate.
  • If you have children or pets, you might want to opt for laminate instead of hardwood as it will hold up better to the abuse they may put on the floor. Consider getting yourself a good ​all purpose vacuum that can handle a lot of different types of scenarios
White curtains draped above glossy dark brown hardwood floors

How much are you willing to spend?

Price should also be considered when you are looking to install a new flooring surface.

  • All three flooring types are priced by the square foot with laminate flooring, in most instances, being the most price conscious.
  • The price of tile can range drastically, depending on the design and pattern you select as well as the material it is made of.
  • Hardwood flooring is a more expensive choice especially if you choose a hard quality wood material.
  • It is suggested you select harder woods for your hardwood flooring installation. They will hold up better and reduce the need for resurfacing as the floor won’t be as susceptible to scratches or damage.
  • Laminate will the cheapest option for you. In a very general sense, laminate can cost around $3-$5/square foot, which is 2x-5x cheaper than hardwood flooring.

How will you be caring for your flooring?

Caring and maintenance of your flooring is a big consideration, especially if you don’t want to put a lot of effort into caring for it.

  • Tile is the easiest to care for as you can use virtually any type of cleaning solution on its surface as it is designed to be able to get wet. Get a top rated powered mop for the occasional deep cleaning.
  • Hardwood and laminate is not a surface where you should allow water to penetrate as it can cause damage. You typically only need to dust or dry mop laminate and hardwood floors as this will remove a good deal of dust and dirt that builds up on it.

If you need a deeper clean, you must use an approved cleaner on its surface, or you could risk ruining the finish of the floor.

Also, keep in mind your hardwood or laminate floor may need to be resurfaced as it ages. This can remove scratches or gouges that have formed. This can be a costly endeavor you don’t have to worry about if you install tile.

Glass windows made up of square glass tile

Conclusion

​When comparing tile vs hardwood vs laminate, you have a difficult decision to make. All three materials will provide a durable surface while providing an appearance that enhances your space.

Depending on where you will be placing this flooring, we highly recommend tile as your go-to option as it resists moisture and has a longer overall life that will not show wear and tear.

Plus, you’ll appreciate the low maintenance of tile and have an array of styles to choose from. When you are looking to add new flooring to your home, be sure to consider tile as it will give your home a modern look with plenty of longevity over the years. 

About the Author Allen Michael

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.

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