Hardwood floors tend to last much longer than laminate floors, although they need an occasional finish. It's also often easier to repair a hardwood floor, often with a little sanding and staining, while damaged laminate might need to be completely replaced. Hardwood floors can last much longer than laminate floors, which are typically limited to a lifespan of between 15 and 25 years. That said, hardwood floors generally wear out faster than laminate floors because of their susceptibility to scratches, dents, and discolorations.
However, since hardwood is solid wood that can be up to ¾ of an inch thick, it can be sanded and repainted several times to make it look like new. Few installation jobs will inspire you more to leave your home than installing and renovating hardwood floors. The dust, the cure time and the lingering smell are unpleasant at best, and potentially dangerous at worst. Laminates can be professionally installed quickly and easily without nails or glue, and all finishing is done in the factory instead of at home, for a cost.
The latter isn't even fair. Laminates last longer, are easier to install, are more environmentally friendly, are absolutely beautiful and, with their embossed or hand-scraped grain finishes, are impossible to differentiate from hardwoods. And they're still generally much less expensive than hardwoods. Even so, the cost of hardwood varies dramatically: some oak, maple, and American cherry woods are quite affordable and other exotic wood species, such as wenge and teak, expensive.
Real wood is characterized by an enormous variation in texture in the veins of the wood, so no two hardwood floorboards, whether solid or engineered, look exactly the same.