A lot of real estate investors and fix and flip remodelers ask me “Can I put hardwood next to laminate?”
Yes, sometimes. In a cheap home, you can get away with it. In an expensive home, you absolutely cannot. This is all because people have different expectations depending on how much money they are spending.
Pros & Cons of Each
- Cost efficient
- Ease of install
- DIY friendly
- Easily damaged
- Hard/ impossible to repair without replacing
- Most be totally replaced every few years
- Highly durable
- Adds value to home
- It can be fixed without replacing
- Lasts for decades
- Eco Friendly
- Very Solid To walk on
Let’s talk about laminate next to hardwood in a cheap home. If you going to be putting laminate next to hardwood or vice versa, you need to have a good reason for doing so. The only way this would make sense is if you already have some hardwood that you don’t want to cover up, but you don’t have necessary funds to ad onto it. There are not many other situations where this is going to make sense.
So why is this not a good idea most the time?
Laminate on its own looks good. It doesn’t look real, but it looks like a nice floor. When you have it next to a nice hardwood floor, that changes. It all the sudden looks very fake and cheap. It’s like when you have Gold and Fools gold right next to each other, the real one makes the fake one look like a cheap phony.
When is this a good solution?
Well, good may be an overstatement. When will it look acceptable? It will only be acceptable if the connection is through a door way. You would NEVER put a room of laminate next to a room of real hardwood if there was no real doorway. (The rooms were essentially the same room) This is very common in sub-division spec homes with carpet. Carpet people have the excuse that they wanted a soft floor throughout the rest of the home. You will find many sub-division spec homes with paths of hardwood through the main walking areas and carpet everywhere else. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone, so I won’t say anything bad about it. (I think it looks tacky)
If you are re-doing the floors in an expensive home, you need to think about what high end buyers want right now. They do not want hodge podge flooring all over the house. (Laminate in the entry way, carpet in the bedroom and hardwood in the kitchen) Its essential that you make the flooring run continuous throughout the homes. This is the trend in homes currently. According to all the spec builders and real estate agents (successful ones) I work with, this is the only way to go. If you are working on high end stuff, you need to add on to the wood floor. You can’t away with putting the fake next to the real in these nice homes. Laminate is fine in cheap homes & fix and flips, but it’s not fine for people with money. They will find a house that has real hardwood in it. Hardwood is trendy. Get with it.
If you going to do it anyway… here are some tips!
If you came here with your mind already made up, I get that. I am hard headed too. So, let’s see what we can do to make the most out of this crappy situation. First off, you obviously can’t be using colors that clash. If this is an old flip home, the hardwood will be in need of a refinish. If your too cheap to even do that, I can’t help you. Go out and find a laminate you like and that will go best with the theme of the house. We are going to change the wood to match the laminate. We are not going to do the wood first and match the wood to the laminate. We have the ability to do a lot of custom effects on the wood.
When you find a laminate that you think will match, buy a sample of it. You then need to go talk to your refinishing guy and see if he can make your wood look the same. If you pick a two-tone laminate, just know he will charge you a ton to try to replicate it and even then, he may not be able to get close. Try to pick a simple laminate or LVP. It helps to pick a handful that you like so your hardwood guy can tell you which one would be cheapest for him to match.
How much will the labor on this cost me?
When you go to have the hardwood, man match the laminate, plan to pay between $2.50-3.50 a sq. ft. for simple colors. If you decide to go with something complex with distinct double tones in it, plan to pay $4.50 to – 7 a sq. ft. Frankly this is just a bad idea. If you going to start blowing that type of money to match your laminate, you should consider doing hardwood instead.
Laminate installation cost
In a recent blog, I reference a quick survey I did of about 50 floor install companies. The price the companies charge to install LVP and Laminate are ranging from $1-3 a square foot. This is going to depend on where you are and the layout of your job. High population areas tend to have much lower rates while more rural and small town areas tend to have the higher rates. For a reputable company, plan to pay more than $2 a square foot. Don’t hire the cheapest guy, you will get what you pay for.
Is this DIY material?
The laminate yes. The refinishing of the hardwood, heck no. If you want to save some money, do the laminate part yourself, do not even think about attempting to match the wood to the laminate via a refinish though. It’s very difficult to sand a floor for the first time with no help but YouTube. The more colorful the job is, the more complex. That’s why matching a complex laminate two tone color on your first every DIY refinish is an awful idea.
If I shouldn’t put laminate next to hardwood, what should I put?
I’m so glad you asked. I have been dying to tell you. If you are looking for alternatives, read no further. You have two options.
Option 1: Put in a layer of ¾ in press board sub-floor next to your hardwood to where they are perfectly even. After you do this, you can just run your new laminate or LVP right over the top. While laminates and LVPs are inferior products to wood, they still look pretty nice. Having the continuous floor through the house if a better option than having laminate next to the wood.
Option 2: Put carpet down next to the hardwood. This has always been acceptable and it still is. Carpet is definitely less popular than both hardwood and laminate or LVP. This doesn’t make it a bad choice. In flip homes, we see this happen all the time.
Note to Flippers & Real- Estate Investors
CDG real estate is a Midwestern home flipping company that we work with. They typically opt for this method. They have renovated and flipped hundreds of homes over the years. I have learned a lot from them about saving money on flooring. If you’re a flipper, here is a short list of tips that Gary Babb from CDG real estate gave me.
- Always use what you already have. If there is hardwood, refinish it.
- Hard surfaces are in. We run LVP and laminate throughout most of our homes if we do have to replace the carpet.
- Remember that your just one recession from having your flip home become a rental property (if the market goes way down) so don’t put the bottom of the barrel products in your home.