Durability is always important to consider when deciding between two flooring types. Overall hardwood is said to be durable. It is supposed to last the test of time.
That can be true in areas that are not high traffic where pets or children do not reside. You see, kids and their toys as well as pets and their paws can very easily scratch hardwood flooring. The reality is that hardwood can be, well, soft. The saving grace is that often damage can be repaired through sanding and refinishing.
Hardwood does fade, so that rug you place on the floor to protect the high traffic area, it will protect it. However the rest of the floor that sees sun day in and day out will not be protected and will fade. This may not seem like a big deal but you may want to rearrange furniture and move that rug, it is likely you will see the damage and be limited to keeping the same size rug in the same spot forever.
Seams, especially those a little too far apart, can harbor things that can never be removed. I know this because our dining room is hardwood and you better believe our cracks are full. Full of crumbs, play doh and random other small bits from when my kids were younger. We vacuum constantly but these things are really pretty impossible to remove. Just one more thing to think about when deciding.
One thing that has not changed is the fact that hardwood does often still increase the overall value of homes. Homes that boast hardwood floors often sell for a bit more than homes without.
As for installation, much more preparation and work will need to be done. Because the sub floor must be completely clear of debris, and perfectly level, this is best done by professionals. Also the actual installation needs specialized tools and knowledge that most homeowners would not already have.
One must also exercise caution to not use products or mops that could damage hardwood. Water and other liquids can easily warp and stain hardwood.
Durability with laminate is actually better than one may realize. High traffic areas can bode very well with a good quality laminate. Most are very easy to clean and water resistant so they are a great choice for a mudroom, living room or playroom. Laminate may not be the best for high moisture areas like kitchens or baths.
A major con for some people is they see laminate flooring as less visually appealing than hardwood. That is obviously a matter of opinion and like I mentioned earlier, depending on the quality, some laminates can easily be mistaken for hardwood at first glance. There are laminates for every price point so it’s really up to your budget and intended use as to how much you want to invest.
Laminate can also be installed over other existing flooring types. It is relatively easy to do it yourself even on unlevel floors. The problem is that it can not be repaired or replaced as easily as one would hope. This does not mean that it is not still a good idea to keep extra pieces on hand. It simply means that depending on the damage done and the location of it fixing it may be a possibility, but it also could mean the only way to resolve it is installing a new floor.