One of the most important questions any homeowner needs to ask before selecting from the various types of 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 the climate the home is located in and if it’s a home where pets reside? (Read Is bamboo flooring good for dogs?)
Regardless of these specifics, all types of flooring do have a built-in shelf life, and you should take this into account before purchasing and installing any material in your home.
Different Types of Flooring
Not all laminate flooring is created equal. Most manufacturers offer a wide price range, and because of this, many homeowners are attracted to this material. Those on a tight budget often turn to laminate floors, but it is one of the cheapest types of flooring, and you can expect to get fewer years 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 the way real hardwood floors can be, and 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 all other types of flooring, is subject to influences such as who and what lives in your home, what the climate is 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. Carpet simply doesn’t offer as much bang for your buck as other foreign materials will, though it does offer warmth and nice cushioning under the feet.
Like laminate, vinyl is a material that is offered in a wide range of prices. Homeowners tend to buy vinyl mainly due to its affordability like those who buy laminate.
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.
You need to take into account the amount of foot traffic (or paw traffic) and the amount of maintenance performed when discussing the finish of hardwood floors. 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. It is still far less expensive than hardwood, even though it may be a bit pricier than laminate (in some cases, only an extra $1 per square foot), it is still far less expensive than hardwood. However, it still offers the same beauty and warmth as hardwood.
It beats laminate and vinyl because 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. (You have to read Bamboo vs Laminate Flooring: A Side-by-Side Comparison!)
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Last update of the article: 07/31/2020.