I get a lot of phone calls from very smart customers who are thinking about updating their home, and want a professional opinion about what types of improvements will deliver the highest return on investment.
One of the most common questions I get is about flooring. In this blog, I want to discuss the issue of hardwood flooring versus laminate flooring.
I have an easy rule of thumb for deciding which flooring is best for your home. If your home is valued at over 200k, the answer is to install hardwood floors.
I understand that there are some really attractive and high quality laminate floors available. However, the look, and especially the feel of properly installed wood floors can be easily identified by today’s savvy buyers.
Hardwood floors add elegance and style that go a long way towards enhancing the perceived value of your home. Not only will you get to enjoy the beauty of wood floors, when you get ready to sell, these floors will help your home stand out among the competition, sell faster, and for more money than homes with traditional or laminate flooring.
If your home is valued under 200k, hardwood flooring will definitely put your home head and shoulders above the competition. However, you might not achieve a return on investment that exceeds what you would achieve by installing laminate. Another thing to consider is that once you add wood floors, your other flooring might look out of place. This can start a never ending cycle of upgrading other parts of your home that leads you down the regrettable path of over improving your home.
Over improving your home is a lot easier to do than most people think. Again, before starting any major remodeling projects, consult with a local real estate expert. Real estate agents view lots of property, and can provide invaluable insight into just how much you can be spend before you price your home out of your neighborhood.
If you decide to install wood floors, engineered flooring is a very popular choice because of both price and higher tolerance for moisture.
If you install hardwood floors, glue them down. NEVER float wood floors. One of the most identifiable features of wood flooring is the hard, concrete-like feel of the flooring.
Some sellers ask about using a cloth sound barrier under floated floors, and the short answer is that unless the floors are glued or nailed down, you can tell, regardless of whether or not you use a sound absorbing product like Quiet Walk.
In order for glued-down hardwood floors to both sound right and last, the flooring surface needs to be properly prepped. Preparation typically includes using self-leveling concrete to perfectly level the floor and remove any low spots. This step is essential to prevent hollow spots and the floor not adhering properly. This is why I highly recommend hiring a professional.
If you do hire a professional to install hardwood floors, make sure they use a moisture meter to measure the moisture in the concrete where the floors will be installed. I recommend that you request the flooring company to provide you with a written statement documenting the moisture level and that you and the installer both sign the document. I recently represented a seller who tried to save money and used a friend to install some exotic hardwood flooring. The installer never checked the moisture in the floor, and when the floors all buckled less than a month later the seller had to replace 7k in flooring. When you include the cost of labor, a 10k flooring installation quickly turned into 20k.
If you decide to install laminate flooring, gluing the flooring down can eliminate the hollow sound that identifies laminate flooring, and will make the flooring more closely resemble real hardwood.
Please share this article with anyone you know who is thinking of remodeling or selling.