The Most Timeless Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors have come a long way from the photocopied look of the 3-planks-in-one-board from just a few years ago. Now it comes in a single plank so it looks so much nicer. Irene (my design associate) is beginning a renovation on her house this Spring and she is installing laminate floors.

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Smart, because she is renovating to sell and then buy and do it all over again. Also, she's in a neighborhood where people don't necessarily expect to see wood or stone when they are buying a home. Of course a lot depends on how high-end your home is to begin with.  If you live in an expensive neighbourhood where home buyers expect stone countertops when they walk into your kitchen, quartz is a much better plan than granite for re-sale. Choosing granite for a kitchen that is not for you is like selecting a plaid sofa to your taste, and expecting the next homeowners to not only love it but live with it for the next 15 – 25 years.

Anyway we got to discussing the colour she had chosen. We both agreed that anything we had seen in medium brown was blotchy and mostly bad so that was out. Espresso brown is already yesterday because that trend is over and installing laminate anywhere in the gray realm will simply be dated eventually as well.

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So the most timeless laminate? Something in the realm of a light maple, like in my 2 examples above. It will also work well with grays and all the bright pops of colour we are all painting our houses these days.

If I ever come across something in the medium tones that's beautiful, you'll be the first to hear about it. If you are reading this and have already discovered one, please post the link in the comments below!

Related posts:

Is Quartz Sexier than Granite?

How Important is the Colour of Wood vs. Wall Colour?

Which Hardwood Floor is the Most Timeless?

Need help with your colours, download my eBook, It's All in the Undertones.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert. JUNE DATES IN TORONTO!

50 Responses to The Most Timeless Laminate Flooring

  1. Hmmm, when I have clients who are considering wood laminate flooring, I tell them to hold off replacing their flooring until they can afford real hardwood. Laminate doesn't fool buyers – they want the hardwood. It's just not worth it to install laminate that doesn't look great to begin with and wears badly over time. It is not a selling point like hardwood is.

    • Donna Frasca says:

      I agree with you Krisite. Like I said in a comment below, most, if not all, my clients turn their noses up at laminate. You can get engineered wood in the same price range. I prefer wood, cork, bamboo or even tile (which I'm not a fan of) over the clip clopping of a laminate floor.

      • Mary says:

        I am amazed that people who are buying have the nerve to turn their noses up anything that is done well, and can take some wear and tear until they are able to afford to make their own big changes in flooring and countertops. Why would a seller in this market consider putting in huge upgraded items when none of us have the same taste? I think it is a realtor's job to point out (if the floor is done well) that the laminate is a floor-at least it is clean and the buyer can do their own thing later. If a realtor walked into my home and had this attitude they wouldn't be around long. This instant gratification world needs to wake up.

    • Megan says:

      I totally agre with you Kristie. I too know many clients that completely turn their noses up at laminate. Yes there are so many great laminates out there-especially those made with HDF-not MDF. But REAL Hardwood is sooo worth it. I would rather wait and put hardwood in or look for a deal. Hardwood can cost the same as Laminate. If you buy cheap laminate-it just looks CHEAP!!

    • Lisa Lucas says:

      Unfortunately in my area laminate flooring is a big negative for resale and I am having a client take it up and put in carpet just to get her place sold. I steer clients towards a nice looking tight weave carpet. The real estate agents whose clients I work with to help get a house market ready tell me buyers are turning their noses up at the laminate at showings. Maybe because our area is so rainy and damp, the laminates have been warping over time and clients hate the "bounce". I actually found a bamboo looking vinyl that worked well for the price point we needed. When the investors flipping foreclosures won't use the laminate I went to pre-finished engineered wood flooring and carpet.

  2. Jude says:

    Couldn't agree with you more Maria! Espresso brown looks dated. Maple looks great. Our laminate is Beech which has worked well for us . And I love that rattan/wicker cushy sofa!

  3. Shawna says:

    I don't see how any floor can be timeless. When dark floors came into fashion people turned their noses up at the light maple floors. I think people should just do what they like and if they are renovating for a sale it would seem they should just do what the current trend is. I cringe at that, since I am one of those people who will not be influenced by home staging and would rather buy a house that is not recently done in someone else's taste so I don't feel guilty re-doing it in mine. If I am going to buy your house, please don't redo a thing; I won't like it. However, I have watched enough HGTV to know that the average buyer would seem to be fixated on such things as granite countertops and so called "high end finishes" not caring much if the granite is black and white or looks like something the cat barfed up. So long as it is granite. It is the same with the open concept thing. Everyone except me wants that too.
    I dislike faux and if my budget would allow I would rip up the nicest of laminates to install real wood. I also detest base board heaters and carrara marble. Pity my future real estate agent.

    • MaryAnne says:

      Oh Shawna…. I hear you!!! I, too, have watched enough HGTV to be amazed at the lemmings who are obsessed with "granite" countertops….even those, as you so graphically put it, that look like "something the cat barfed up"! Personally, I can't wait to hear Maria announce that granite countertops are a thing of the past. Why do people have to follow "trends" anyway? What is wrong with decorating with things and colors that you love? I have always preferred a white-cabinet kitchen and, yay!, I think that I will finally be "in style" very soon. The days of the dark cherry cabinets and black granite countertops (not at all cherry and bright in my humble opinion) are going the way of oak cabinets and dark green laminate countertops. And, by the way, I agree wholeheartedly with you regarding "open concept"!

      • Trends will be trends no matter whether in countertops, flooring, paint colors, etc. I honestly don't think there's much of anything that'll be "forever timeless". If people would just follow their heart instead of the trends, suppliers of all things would then offer more options. Ever notice how when you go to buy flooring/sofa/counter tops/etc, the sales person will say "This is one of our best sellers". He/she says that because they stock what's selling and because if enough people think its "in", it suddenly becomes a "best seller". Oh the stories I could tell about clients "up against the wall" trying to find what they want but the store just doesn't carry it. I tell them, "it's there, you may just have to special order it." :-)

        I would choose real wood over laminate too if the budget allows. Because, with hardwood floors, regardless of the stain/finish, they can always be restained/refinished if you don't like the current look. Our former home had beautiful oak hardwood that we refinished ourselves. We used a stain that was the same as the doors, trim, etc. If I was doing it all over today, I would remove all stain and just put a satin finish on the newly sanded wood. Is that "in" around here? No…but that's what I would like. Another thing I tell clients is "When you're redoing anything in your home, if you've got plans to sell in the next 5-7 years, re-do with resale in mind. If you're not planning to move, do it the way YOU want."

        We had nice neutral carpeting for our basement level and right away the new owners wanted to remove it. You cannot "guess" what a potential buyer will like. However, it's always a safe bet to "go neutral" so the buyer can more easily visualize their own things.

        Our new home has a light black laminate flooring in the kitchen/dining area. While it looks OK when clean, it's a bear cat to keep looking clean! Always dusty and every little dog hair shows up! I'd take my light color, painted-over vinyl flooring in my old kitchen any day over this dark flooring!

  4. Maria Killam says:

    There are times when laminate is appropriate whether it's for a basement, rental or simply more affordable for a homeowner whose only other option is carpet.

    I would much prefer to live in a home with laminate if I had to wait to install hardwood until the reno happened rather than badly worn, old, bossy carpet.

    Bottom line, this post is about which colour is best and hardwood is NOT appropriate or practical for every situation in my opinion.
    Thanks for your comment Kristie!
    Maria

    • I too agree with this comment Maria. Icky old carpeting is not fun to live with! (We're trying to figure out a suitable replacement for ours now.) Sometimes there has to be an "in between stage" when redecorating. Budget constraints often drive decisions. I've always loved light colored floors be they hardwood or laminate. It's just so much brighter…and yes, much easier to keep clean! :-)

  5. Maria Killam says:

    Hi Shawna,
    Actually I do agree with renovating in the current trend if you catch it early enough. I just did a consult with a couple who bought a brand new house 4 years ago with espresso brown cabinets, tumbled marble backsplash, tuscan, earthy tile everywhere and dark flooring. They said they feel as if they are living in a space that is already 10 years old. Which is exactly what happens when you decorarte towards the end of a trend.
    Great comments everyone!
    Maria

  6. Denise says:

    "Timeless" and "laminate" – there are two words I never thought I'd see in the same sentence!

  7. Nadine says:

    My brother-in-law has laminate and it is brilliant! Not just for the look but for the practicality. We partied all through his house (and yes, I wear ridiculously high shoes) and it didn't leave one mark. There's cheap laminate and then there's the good laminate (which is still cheaper than real floorboards & needs much less maintenance.) As for house staging: I'm actually a big fan. Sometimes 'real' homes have a personal style that doesn't appeal to a wider audience & with a more neutral style, it easier to envision their own style in the home. (style, style, style! lol!) I really don't think that people are being conned by 'fancy finishes' and, whether they know it or not, most people are influenced by fashion! :)

  8. Donna Frasca says:

    I know there are some very attractive laminates available now, they've come a long way, but I still hesitate to use or recommend them. You can still get wood (engineered) in the same price range as laminate. However, I know there there are applications where laminates are recommend such as basements, bathroom etc so it's good to know this information. I'm just not a fan of laminate.

  9. Maria Killam says:

    Hi MaryAnne,
    I absolutely think that granite is a thing of the past! It's why you only ever hear me talk about quartz on this blog.
    thanks for your comment,
    Maria

  10. Well, Maria, you stirred things up this time. I get what you are saying about colour – the discussion wasn't about laminate vs hardwood. BUT I don't why you think people in the suburbs don't necessarily expect to see wood or stone. After just having sold a house in the suburbs WITH hardwood floors, my realtor was still worried about the 15 year old kitchen not having granite.

    I'm just waiting out the trends till my laminate counters come back into fashion – not that thats likely to happen in my lifetime. :-)

    • Heather, laminate countertops are coming back into fashion. There are some really nice affordable products out there now that don't look like our mother's/grandmother's kitchen countertops. And the durability is there too!

  11. Katy says:

    Laminate is absolutely better than wall to wall carpet, in any situation. I'm wondering if carpet is ever going to go out of style — I'd rather paint my plywood subfloor than live with carpeting in my living areas ever again.

    And thank God the dark swirly granite trend is over. I actually renovated my kitchen and used white tile on my countertops because it's white and I couldn't afford marble.

  12. Karen says:

    If you think laminates have come a long way, you should check out the new vinyl flooring. It is also available in planks and you can get some pretty awesome "wood looks" for a fraction of the cost of the same look in real wood. It may not be for everyone, but it definitely has it's place. I recently used it on a job in a client's lower level where they've had some water issues. It looks just like wood, but is warmer feeling it's waterproof, absorbs sound, you can replace individual planks easily if damaged and the warranty is 25 year residential. And no, I don't work for a flooring manufacturer. This particular floor looked like old planks from a barn and it was gorgeous. Here's a link to the floor I used http://www.konectousa.com/products_prestige.html.

    • Maggie says:

      I agree with Karen.

      I used this flooring in my son's small house and IMHO it is much better than laminates because it is soft and quiet, and the fact that you can replace individual planks is a bonus.

      I would recommend anyone that is looking for a lower cost floor consider this product

  13. Brenda Adams says:

    Actually,I have laminate,I have it thru out my house,I have two little dogs and the laminate doesn't scratch like hardwood,so in my case the laminate is the way to go,and it is oak and looks beautiful,
    Brenda

  14. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    As I read everyone's comments I hear myself several years ago…..when all those choices were SOOO important. Now as the economy is crunching everyone, these agonies seem of lesser weight. I am thankful for a roof that doesn't leak, washer/dryer that works and for that matter, running water. If I were so blessed again to be able to choose new surfaces for a new home, my tendency would be to try and NOT break the bank. It's like jewelry….
    yes the "real"stuff is wonderful, but seldom does anyone ever gives you back what you paid for it when you try & sell it. The look-alikes don't come with any worry either! Just choose them with discernment.

  15. Paula says:

    We installed light maple hardwood flooring in the living area of our home two years ago just because that was the color we liked, and I didn't want to constantly be looking at dusty floors. We have been very happy with our color choice, and glad we didn't go with a laminate. I agree they have greatly improved, though, and I would definitely consider that option in the future. Thanks for a wonderfully informative blog!

  16. Robin says:

    When I was looking for easy-care flooring for a rental home I turned not to laminate (which can be damaged by water), but to vinyl. I would have walked right past the TrafficMaster Allure Ultra in Cinnamon if not for the huge board announcing it as 100% waterproof. It was sculpted, like hand-scraped hardwood (which is very popular here). Unfortunately it was out of my price range for this project due to installation costs, which at my local store was the same as hardwood. If I had not been too busy I might have tried putting it down myself. Instead I went with Tarkett sheet vinyl – Gunstock was the pattern, I believe. It is not a wide plank look, but my house was built in the '70s so wide planks would look out of place, right? It looks really fantastic for the price point, especially considering the durability. It is often installed in houses at nearby Lake Martin in a wide-plank sawn pattern. Some of you may even consider it inexpensive enough to buy trendy, intending to replace it when you tire of it. It can be replaced quite easily as it is not glued to the floor (though it must be installed by a pro because sheets must be sealed at the seams). The installer seams it with the grain so it looks like a single expanse of perfectly level wood flooring. The clear coat on top is textured to give the look of wood grain when it reflects light, and also makes it non-slip (so no Jerry Maguire moves). It does not look cheap or waxy, and does not have that hollow sound most laminate does (I found out there is a membrane that can go down first to deaden that sound) but it is warmer underfoot and cushier on the joints than hardwood. In fact it really classes up my upper-low-range rental. Vinyl (any type) is a good way to get the look of wood in bathrooms, kitchens, basements, laundries and mudrooms where some people might fret about their investment being damaged. I think some of their patterns (such as the tile patterns) would give utility spaces a fresh start without requiring a commitment.

    Of course neither of these examples are light maple or basic medium brown (they both have slightly red undertones), but the pattern and finish looked more high-end to me than the competition – perhaps the manufacturers also offer the colors featured in this post.

  17. Brenda Thomson says:

    If you are looking for a enginered hardwood that is light, Dansk has a floor that is amazing. We just built and have installed their 5 inch wide, white oak, wire brushed with a slight white wash. OMG it looks Fabulous! And hides everything. There are so many people coming through our house, they all say how much they love it. We have open concept living and my kitchen is Classic Grey white with a medium Carmel oak island. I hate granite so we installed almost white quartz counter tops , Eggshell from caesarstone. Walls are Revere pewter and trim is cloud white, all paint is BM. Maria helped me pick it all out and it looks awesome. I have added Lots of colour in yellow greens, soft yellow, warm orange and coral and a bit of soft red.

  18. Ilona says:

    Hi there,

    I'm feeling a little sad about, "Also, she's out in the suburbs where people don't necessarily expect to see wood or stone when they are buying a home.". Just sayin'.

  19. Nicole says:

    Oh my… Now I'm really confused ; ) We are in the Reno process, we will most likely stay for 2-3 years and then move. Hardwood is out because of cost and we have giant dogs. I was thinking laminate (dark) which I am now re-thinking, but we walked through a house for sale a few months ago with this vinyl planking (maple color) and it was actually pretty impressive! I think I need a design consult! Lol

  20. Maria Killam says:

    Hi Heather and Ilona,
    My point about the suburbs is certainly not to offend but strictly to point out that installing high end finishes in a home that is not your forever, dream home is called over-renovating. You will never get your money out of a home in a neighbourhood where people are looking for 'affordable' not 'high end' finishes that make the price of the house too high to consider.
    Also I live in Vancouver, the most expensive city in the world so that's where my point of view comes from.
    Maria

    • Cher says:

      Hey peeps, this wonderful discussuion is a great demonstration that in this field there is no right or wrong – it's all a matter of taste, context, budget, local conditions. I have 100 year old hardwood in half of our house, but they are goldy/orange and hard to work with. When we took up the carpets the wood was terribly scratched and pock marked with stiletto holes. It's the real thing but cost a small fortune to repair. We renovated the back to get rid of some original old rooms that were in poor condition and add two children's bedrooms. Light Timber-look laminate has been perfect. It was affordable, so easy to clean and is great considering the context. Pros and cons of both…

      I was really interested to read that Vancouver was one of the most expensive cities. Thought I'd see what other cities were also expensive. All the top 20's I found don't include any Canadian cities though.

  21. Yvonne says:

    Hi Maria,

    I have to disagree with you on this one. As someone who "lives in the suburbs" (in fact in the Lower Mainland, just like you) I still definitely expect hardwood and stone – that comment (from you) is unworthy. In my home we put in laminate through the first floor because we hate carpet and how it holds dirt no matter how often it's cleaned. In saying that though, we will replace it with wood eventually. Laminate always has, and always will be an inferior product compared with the real thing. With home prices being what they are in this area, there are very few, if any, low cost homes. In comparing listings however, I notice that sellers still expect "hardwood" prices for their "Laminate" installs!

  22. Maria Killam says:

    Okay I figured it out. I'm offending some people by using the word suburb instead of neighbourhood. There are countless expensive neighbourhoods in the suburbs, so that was the wrong word.
    Maria

  23. Rebecca says:

    Do look at real wood. Put some in a rental house a year ago and we could not be happier. It just is a big cut above any fake. Big Box stores have some of it at a very reasonable price point. It is a prefinished medium light oak and will stand the test of time.

  24. JulieB says:

    Hmmm… I'm not sure where everyone lives, but in my suburban neighborhood where the average price of a home is 800,000, people expect high-end finishes.

  25. I am usually a "lurker" and not a "commenter" on design blogs (which I love yours, Maria!) but I can't stay quiet on this topic. I HATE, let me repeat, HATE the laminate floor that I had installed 3-4 years ago. Every morning when I wake up and step across the cheap laminate floor in the kitchen, hear the hollow sound it makes, and see the bulges in every seam from where water has seeped in, I get sad. You did point out that laminate has come a long way, and I certainly have not seen the latest products, but unfortunately I am way to scarred by the cheap eyesore I walk across everyday to ever consider buying anything with "laminate" in its name. And as a home buyer, if I walked into a home with laminate flooring I would immediately be adding $10-$15K to the price of the home for all the flooring I would have to replace immediately. Bottom line is laminate is fake. It's trying to be something it's not. And that bothers me.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Haha, Kelly thanks so much for your comment it's great. The bottom line point of my post was really about which colour to choose, the world isn't going to stop buying laminate even if I did slant the post negatively.

  26. Rochelle says:

    I have another alternative to the wood floor….we recently built a new "old farmhouse" and installed wood-look porcelain tile. I'm pretty picky but found a beautiful hand-scraped looking tile by FloridaTile that came in 5-6 different colors. There are many different surface appearances (25?) so you do not see the same plank again and again in the room. Make the grout joints small and match the grout to the tile so it blends and it looks terrific!

    At approx $4.50/sq ft, it may not be inexpensive enough for a rental, but it looks beautiful and is impervious to puppy toenails!

  27. Kelly Joyce says:

    Having lived with beautiful hardwood floors and a very happy 120 lb Great Dane I say that I will never install hardwood flooring in my home again. I struggle with the notion that laminate is so cheap because of the practical reasoning behind it for us dog lovers. Carpet is definitely out for pet owners as well and I live in a cold climate so tile wouldn't feel good on feet. What choices are left? Sigh………….

  28. Cynthia says:

    Maria
    I wonder what the general undertone of the light maple flooring you are suggesting is.????
    I have laminate flooring on most of the first floor.. it is 13 years old!!!!!!! All in all it looks good, no squeaks, warps etc that others have spoken of. My husband was thrilled with your comment on color choice b/c ours is in the light maple color. The best part is the upkeep, EASY. I wash w/ water and Norwex mop. Rarely do you see dust on it.
    If money was a plenty of course I would love real wood, but then I would be worried about it. Like Paula said, real thing is wonderful but like jewelery might not get investment back.
    Oh I do live in the burbs so I guess that's why I have laminate LOL
    Love your site!
    Happy to hear about you and your sister too.

  29. Carrie says:

    What would you consider timeless for utility/basement areas where a wood tone doesn't make sense? I'm leaning towards tile; the tile already in the house is black, white, or gray none of which seem right for a dark basement.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I don't think tile is timeless. It's bossy and trendy so I would just look for something light that picks up a colour you intend to use down there or that is so non-descrpt it works with any colour.
      Maria

  30. Joan says:

    Six months ago we built a new house and had beautiful Dansk engineered hardwood plank flooring installed. Slowly over the months to follow it began to "cup"… now in some places the boards have risen so much you almost trip on them. They are willing to replace the floor but now I am a little gun shy. The flooring has also lost it's lustre and smudges very easily. Do I go to high end laminate or carpeting is the question? I am afraid this will happen again and I can't imagine having everything torn out twice.

  31. Leah says:

    I'm going against the grain here – I love laminate! We put it in our house 3-4 years ago and it's still my favourite part of the whole house. I will never have carpet again – so filthy. We are temporarily living in a different city (for work) and have hardwood in this house. I don't really like it for a few reasons. We have young kids, and it scratches ALL THE TIME. Also, in natural light it shows the dirt/dust so much I would have to wash it 6 times a day to keep it looking clean. I don't know why everyone is complaining about water and warping laminate. Who lets water sit on their floors? Where is this water coming from? My parents installed laminate in their home in 1995 (so the older style laminate) and it still looked exactly the same (no scratches or warping) when they sold it in 2010. 15 years and all they had to do was damp mop it once a week. No refinishing, waxing, etc. I will take laminate any day (even if it is "fake") since, if you take care of it and install it properly, it gives you a beautiful look with virtually no work. A big plus in a busy, messy house!

    • Barb says:

      If you have a puppy, they can sneak away to an area and pee on the laminate floor. You may not discover this until after the floor has warped.

      Ask me how I know about this! Thankfully it is in our basement, but it still bugs me.

  32. Joan says:

    Leah thanks for your comment. It is starting to make my choice easier. There are those who swear by hardwood and those that don't. In my case it has been a total disaster. Your point about it showing the dust, etc. and in my case dog hair and scratches are dead on. We have huge windows in the house and you can see every dog hair (yes it is a dark floor) and every smudge from bare feet..but of course our flooring has alreay bit the dust…. I was so surprised to see all the crap when we first moved in because I thought this was going to be the best thing ever! Yes, I came from a carpeted house but never expected the work of keeping this clean…and it's only hubby, me, and a little dog.

  33. Robin says:

    Was just reading through the April 2012 issue of House Beautiful and on page 71 the Editor in Chief gives a favorable opinion of the Allure planks I mentioned above (just a reminder they are vinyl not laminate). By the way, I also want a traditional floor plan with hardwood floors someday. But in the meantime any hard surface that doesn't make my allergies go crazy is good in my book!

  34. Frieda says:

    Cork!! Warm, soft, scratches "heal" themselves, and now comes in lots of amazing colours. (Have been looking for replacement of my old, hollow, hard, cold laminate in the kitchen – and cork costs much less than extending the hardwood into the kitchen) Just saying.

  35. Jena says:

    We are getting ready to do something with our floors. Any opinions on stained concrete?

  36. Farha Syed says:

    Hello Maria

    The day has finally come that my husband has agreed to having laminate in the entire downstairs area, leaving the kitchen and powder room, which have tiles. YAY!!
    I wanted them in the bedrooms on the second floor but I'll compromise right now, but have set a deal with him, that the next house we buy I want hardwood floors in bedrooms as well as the main level.
    Since he said yes to laminate – I started my search for this particular post to see which one you had recommended as one that can go with grays and other colors without any problems of color clashing.
    The light maple will work with my tiles. Tiles do have a bit of strain going on but they're not extremely busy. But I can live with it because I might be selling it – its something I can live with for a few more years.
    My question to you would be for the counter tops. Should I then get a solid colored Quartz so that it doesn't clash with the tiles. That's the other project besides the flooring of the main floor.
    And yes I agree carpet is so bossy, something I cannot live with anymore, I have waited patiently for the kids to grow up.

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