Want your home or business’s floors to look exactly like wood but can’t afford to spend that much? Laminate flooring is the answer.
But where to start? Our buyer’s guide to laminate flooring will help you navigate your choices smartly and quickly.
Understanding Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring has gained in popularity immensely in recent years. But why? Well, for a start, it’s durable, inexpensive, easy to install, and looks good.
But there’s more to it than just design and style. Let’s start by understanding what laminate flooring is.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate is a synthetic flooring solution made by sealing several layers together through the process of lamination. Designed to be durable and affordable, it consists of four layers:
The Wear Layer
This protects your floor from scratches and makes it easy to clean. It also makes it stain and fade resistant.
The Decorative Layer
This gives laminate flooring its design and natural wooden look, or the look of stone or tiles.
The Core Layer
This layer laminates the flooring structure and makes it resistant to dents. It is because of this layer that laminate flooring is better at resisting dents than hardwood.
The Backing Layer
This final layer provides additional stability and support.
Pros & Cons of Laminate Flooring
All types of floorings have their pros and cons, including laminate flooring.
- Its durability makes it a good option for high-traffic areas.
- Its strong wear layer protects it against scratches, wear, stains, and dents, along with making it easy to clean.
- Laminate flooring offers a realistic wooden, stone, or tile-like look.
- Unlike hardwood flooring, it can be installed over a radiant heating system.
- It is easy to install, clean, and maintain.
- Underlayment makes laminate more comfortable underfoot and hence you can easily stand on it for longer periods.
- It is less expensive than solid wood.
- It is not as water-resistant as vinyl.
- It is not particularly suited to bathrooms or basements, although with certain tips you can make laminate flooring work in your basement.
- If laminate flooring isn’t installed properly, it can make an empty and hollow sound. Although it comes with instructions, contact us for installation if you have any doubts.
Where to Use Laminate Flooring
The durability, appealing look, and affordability of laminate flooring make it a good choice for high-traffic areas like living rooms, foyers, bedrooms, and offices. Waterproof laminate flooring can also be used in basements and bathrooms. But it’s good practice to clean up spills as they occur, else the flooring can start warping and bubbling with time.
You can also use floor planks on walls. To create substrate, use the instructions that come with the flooring and ensure the wall is clean, dry, and primed. Don’t install it on your ceilings or countertops.
Key Features to Consider
Choosing the right laminate flooring can be tricky, so considering its key features will help you make the best choice.
Laminate flooring planks come in different widths, ranging from less than 5 inches to more than 7.
The thickness of laminate planks typically varies between 7 and 12 mm. Some manufacturers include the core and attached pad as well when measuring thickness, so keep that in mind when comparing laminates.
Although all laminates offer similar dent resistance, thicker ones are better at reducing noise and offering resistance to the bending caused by uneven subflooring.
Laminate offers an endless list of finishes, ranging from cherry and chestnut to pine and walnut.
The Abrasion Criteria (AC) rating represents wear resistance on a scale of 1 to 5, with various tests conducted to determine the rating. (The higher the rating, the higher the durability.) AC3 and AC4 are the most commonly used residential products.
- AC1 is used in residential areas like bedrooms where there is little foot traffic.
- AC2 is best suited to medium foot traffic.
- AC3 works well in all kinds of foot traffic areas.
- AC4 can be used anywhere in the home, and if warranted, in some commercial areas as well.
- AC5 is meant for withstanding heavy commercial traffic.
Laminate flooring comes in many types of textures to simulate the look of real hardwood. Embossed or embossed in register (EIR) flooring simulates this look better by adding the texture and depth aligned with the design of the decor layer.
Hand-scraped laminate is not really hand-scraped. Instead, the laminate is pressed to replicate the look of an actual hand-scraped wooden floor. Then, a high-gloss texture that makes laminate flooring smooth, mirror-finished, and resistant to dents and scratches is added.
You can’t use all underfloor heating with laminate flooring. However, you can use compatible ones by embedding the mesh in self-leveller or thin-set before you install the flooring. Make sure you read all specifications and instructions carefully before proceeding.
Taking Care of Your Laminate Flooring
After you’ve spent your hard-earned money on amazing laminate flooring, it’s time to care for it. Here’s how.
- Only use the cleaner specified for laminate flooring and use water sparingly.
- Dust or sweep the floor once a week at least to avoid scratching.
- Clean up any tracked-in dirt or spills immediately.
- In high-foot-traffic areas, it is advisable to use a carpet or rug to reduce wear, moisture, and dirt.
- Refrain from sliding heavy furniture across the floor to avoid scratches.
- Replace the pads and plastic casters on the legs of your furniture with rubber tips or felt.
- Don’t use jet mops or steam cleaners.
Laminate flooring is a wonderful option if you’re looking for something stylish, durable, easy to maintain, and affordable. If you have doubts or questions, make sure you ask someone who already has it installed or a floor installation company. If picked after careful consideration, laminate flooring means you won’t have to worry about your floors for a long time.