Wood flooring

Wooden or laminate flooring?

Introduction

Using wood in construction and interior design has a long history, particularly in Austria, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. The primary reasons for using wood in interior settings are aesthetics, a pleasant ambiance, a healthy climate, hygienic considerations, and a reduced risk of allergies. Additionally, people prefer wood products due to their superior environmental profile, reduced greenhouse impact, and reduced solid waste generation compared to other materials. However, psychological or emotional traits also influence the decision to use wood as an indoor material, as people perceive it as warmer, more beautiful, more homely, more soothing, and more inviting. These investigations typically compare wood to other materials like ceramics, glass, paper, leather, stone, and plastic. Different surface textures and color preferences may influence how people see different materials. This raises the question of whether people assign different psychological qualities to wood when compared to a visually identical substance.

Laminate is a similar substance to wood. Previous studies on the psychological perceptions of laminate and wood did not identify the type of laminate product used. In this study, the term laminate refers to recycled wood (plywood) made up of laminations. People frequently use laminate as a substitute for wood due to its similar appearance. Visual distinctions between laminate and wood are difficult to identify with modern laminate manufacturing techniques. However, haptically evaluating wood and laminate reveals different perceptions. As a result, the purpose of this study is to evaluate wooden and laminate materials using a visual and haptic evaluation to determine whether psychological factors may distinguish between wood flooring and laminate flooring.

Psychological Characteristics of Materials

The majority of product evaluation studies focus on the product’s practical functions or aesthetics, such as design, craftsmanship, value, assembly, or security. With the exception of symbolic meanings, studies rarely address the psychological components of items. Symbolic values are socially defined symbolic meanings that might trigger thoughts, feelings, and associations related to the product. Symbolic values encompass characteristics such as modern, simple, pricey, businesslike, sympathetic, innovative, or captivating. Symbolic values such as elegance, innovation, luxury, or prestige have a better correlation with consumer satisfaction than non-symbolic attributes such as utility or aesthetics. Numerous studies have established eco-friendliness as another key symbolic value. In addition to symbolic values, products can elicit emotional reactions. Purposefully creating products to elicit an emotional response (affective engineering; “kansei”) can engage people on an emotional level and enhance the product’s value [19]. Products might be considered delightful, joyous, gratifying, surprising, trustworthy, shady, disappointing, or repulsive. Desmet and Hekkert [23] suggest that product perception can trigger these feelings; for instance, engaging with a kangaroo ball can trigger emotions like excitement or happiness, leading people to perceive the kangaroo ball as a source of enthusiasm and happiness. According to Desmet and Hekkert, there are three categories of product emotions: appealingness (which encompasses emotions like love, desire, or disgust), praiseworthiness (emotions like adoration, appreciation, or disappointment), and desirability (emotions like jealousy, enthusiasm, and happiness). A further modification divides product experience into three categories: visual enjoyment, attribution of meaning, and emotional response. The interconnection of all three product experiences can have an impact on the product’s evaluation. These studies primarily focus on the emotional responses that products may elicit. Research on other psychological characteristics, like stress reduction, activation, or the ability to improve performance or communication, is less common. Harbich and Hassenzahl’s study, which examines product behavioral tendencies, is a significant example. They might assign traits like the ability to improve creativity or performance to items in their research.

Wood and wood products offer psychological features.
Previous research examined the effects of hardwood interiors on individuals: People view wooden flooring as more pleasant, appealing, healthy, durable, and environmentally friendly than carpet. Furthermore, people perceive wooden materials as warmer, more natural, more homey, more soothing, and more inviting than ceramics, glass, paper, leather, stone, and plastic materials. Furthermore, rooms with wooden furnishings encourage participants to relax or lie down, whereas rooms without wood promote activities such as working or exercising. Kelz, Grote, and Moser discovered that wooden floors, ceilings, cupboards, and wall panels positively influence an individual’s stress level, resulting in a lower heart rate and increased heart rate variability.

Another study reported a similar finding, showing that a room with a wooden floor and partially covered walls increased heart rate variability while decreasing diastolic blood pressure. Furthermore, a wood-equipped bedroom improves sleep quality, whereas wood-equipped offices and schools minimize stress and strain [9, 28]. We still need to thoroughly research the reasons behind wood’s health benefits for humans. One argument could suggest that the use of natural, untreated wood indoors enhances acoustics and air quality, leading to a more comfortable interior climate. Another hypothesis, the attention restoration theory, states that seeing nature increases the restoration process because natural settings require less attention to the surroundings, allowing the individual to recuperate. We can also achieve this restoration procedure in nature-based indoor contexts, like potted plants and windows overlooking trees, and thus apply it to wooden interior settings. These findings imply that the appearance of wood is predominantly associated with these positive psychological characteristics. However, even when comparing different wood surfaces, color, structure, and grain produce varied psychological responses. People perceive wood with a rough or untreated surface as warmer, while they perceive wood with a clean surface as cooler [8]. The wood rating also varies depending on the species used. As a result, it is critical to compare wood to a material that looks as similar as possible. We reduce the possibility of incorrectly judging the color and structure of the material by comparing wood to a substance with similar color, surface texture, and grain.

Psychological Differences Between Wood and Laminate
Laminate is a material with a similar appearance and surface, making it a popular substitute for wood items. Jiménez et al. investigated the psychological effects of wood and laminate products using photos. People perceive wood items as much more warm, pleasant, healthier, and physically and mentally engaging than laminate products. However, research indicates that people generally favor natural products over synthetic ones due to their perceived health benefits, sensory appeal, purity, safety, and ethical justification. This so-called “green consumer behavior” encourages people to seek out and purchase green products. According to these ideas, consumers are more likely to buy wood products and are willing to pay more for them. Marketers position wood as a more natural material compared to laminate, potentially influencing consumers’ preference for wood over synthetics. However, Berger et al. demonstrate that consumers perceive wood differently even without knowing the type of material. They only compared wood and laminate based on haptic experience, not informing their subjects about the differences in the materials. The findings showed that subjects assigned each material differently, even when they were not aware of their differences. Participants described untreated wood as warmer, rougher, and softer, while they described laminate as colder, smoother, and harder. These findings indicate that wood is associated with more favorable psychological qualities than laminate, even when participants are unaware of the composition and look of both materials. This finding suggests that, even when people are unaware of the material’s kind and composition, they subconsciously ascribe different psychological qualities to wood than to laminate items. The surface structure of wood and laminate goods may influence this perception. When touching a rough substance, the effective contact area is smaller than with smooth ones. Smooth surfaces have higher heat transmission, resulting in a cooler sensation when touched.

Conclusion
Previous research confirms that people perceive rough materials as more warm, soft, and pleasant. People perceive wood as a rough material, potentially influencing other psychological qualities like warmth, softness, and pleasantness. Laminate, on the other hand, feels smoother; therefore, cold and hard characteristics appear to be more common.

Wood flooring