Laminate Flooring Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right One for You

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ILaminate flooring was invented in the late 70s by the Swedish flooring company Perstorp, but it was not widely introduced to the European market until 1984 and was not available in the United States. than a decade later. Today, it’s still one of the most popular flooring options, and it’s not just for kitchen floors.

Along with all the other materials laminate flooring can look like, it’s a good option for any room in your home. Believe it or not, people are even using it on walls these days, especially in rooms with high humidity like kitchens and bathrooms.

What is laminate flooring?

Unlike natural floor coverings such as wood, stone or cork, laminate flooring is a synthetic material. It is made up of four different layers – wear, decor, core and backing – which are sealed together during the lamination process. It is intentionally designed to be durable and affordable. Due to the decorative layer (a printed image), it can recreate the look of more expensive flooring types like wood, tile or stone.

Types of laminate flooring

Equipment

Plastic

Plastic laminate flooring is completely artificial. Some people avoid it because of this, but it can be about half the cost of engineered wood laminate. It’s waterproof and not susceptible to dents, scratches or stains, so it’s great for messy, high-traffic areas. Manufacturers have come a long way to make plastic laminate look a lot like the material it imitates (be it wood, stone, tile, etc.).

Engineered wood

For those who prefer to use real wood, but still want the benefits of laminate flooring, engineered wood flooring uses layers of real wood in addition to acrylic lamination. It can be twice the cost of plastic laminate and is also less durable against damage and water. However, unlike plastic laminate, it can be sanded and refinished multiple times, which can help it last longer.

Type of installation

Click without glue

It is the most popular type of laminate flooring today because it is the easiest to install. It’s simple and mess-free. Most laminate flooring in this style uses a double-click method to fully lock into place.

Glue

This was the first form of laminate flooring. Applying glue can be a messy project, but it’s also a very durable installation method when placed correctly.

Pre-glued

Another simple, mess-free installation process, pre-glued laminate flooring uses a peel and stick method. Sometimes the pre-applied glue must be moistened before the panel is fixed to the floor.

Surface type

Smooth

It’s the easiest type of surface to clean, but it can also look less realistic if you want your floor to look like more natural materials.

Texture

Textured or embossed laminate flooring can appear more true to the materials they are modeled on. Its nooks and crannies make it harder to clean.

distressed

Distressed or hand-scraped laminate floors are meant to look intentionally old. If you desire an antique look for less cost and greater durability, this is a surface to consider.

Model

Traditional

The original laminate flooring was intended to mimic wood flooring so that a traditional pattern followed the standard width and layout of classic wood floors.

Slim

Thin planks of laminate flooring can provide a more modern look, although they look less like real wood, as narrow wood plank flooring is not as common.

Large

Laminate flooring in a wider plank pattern can appear sturdier and more reminiscent of older styles of architecture.

Chevron

A herringbone or herringbone pattern offers more dimension and can be a unique feature of the room.

Laminate Flooring Factors to Consider

Laminate flooring is incredibly versatile. In addition to different types of materials, installation methods, surface types and patterns, it is also available in a variety of finishes to achieve the look you want. It can mimic different types of wood flooring in finishes such as oak, walnut, hickory and maple, or it can model tile or stone floors.

Different materials have different advantages and disadvantages, but in general laminate flooring is a very affordable option, especially compared to wood and stone flooring. Material costs are low and being a DIY option also reduces renovation costs.

Durability is also a key reason for choosing laminate flooring. Engineered wood and plastic laminate differ, but laminate flooring is a tough option and can withstand moving furniture, pet claws, broken dishes and more. It doesn’t require any special tools or products to clean it, and it’s waterproof or water-resistant, depending on the material you choose.

Although manufacturers have been able to produce laminate flooring that looks a lot like the “real thing”, this may be the biggest drawback. If you have a very specific aesthetic in mind that calls for wood, stone, tile or another such material, you may not be happy with an alternative to laminate flooring.

Laminate Flooring Costs by Type

Material cost per square foot

How to choose the right laminate floor for you

With all the varieties of laminate flooring available, there are some key factors to consider before choosing the right type for you.

  • Normal wear. Is it being used in an area with a lot of activity? Look for an option that is extremely durable and has a scratch resistant finish. Check the AC rating on laminate flooring – this stands for abrasion criteria and is the rating system used to test durability, abrasion and impact resistance. In low traffic areas, you can use a lower rating.
  • resale value. If you plan to sell your home soon, engineered wood floors can increase the value more than plastic laminates.
  • Price. Is it part of a bigger renovation or are you focusing specifically on updating your flooring? Laminate flooring is economical and if you prioritize other elements of a renovation, it can be a great option for reducing overall costs. However, if you want to get into flooring, you may be willing to spend more on other types of flooring.
  • Installation: If you want to DIY, laminate flooring is a great option. If you’re considering a more intricate look, you might want to hire a professional.

FAQs

What is the best thickness for laminate flooring?

Laminate floors are available in many thicknesses with common options such as 6mm, 7mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm. The thicker the parquet, the more expensive it is. The thickness only refers to the base of the board to the top of the board; if a pad is attached to the board, it is not included in this measurement.

Although thickness affects durability to some degree, its most important factor is how it affects aesthetics, as thicker laminate can more accurately mimic more expensive flooring materials. Thickness also has an impact on sound absorption. For a floor that most closely resembles real wood, 10 or 12mm is recommended, but if you’re not so concerned about it looking “real” and want to save some money, then 7 to 8 mm also work.

Is it worth installing laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring has many advantages: it’s less expensive than other options, it can be a DIY project, it’s available in many different styles, and it’s generally easy to clean and maintain. . However, it is not likely to increase resale value and with varying AC ratings and thicknesses, some options are less durable.

Do you need an underlay for a laminate floor?

Underlayment is highly recommended for laminate flooring. This affects the feel, sound and hold of the laminate. Underlayment helps eliminate problems caused by subfloor imperfections that can cause laminate flooring to fail. It also prevents moisture buildup, absorbs footsteps, and insulates your home (which can help lower energy bills). If your laminate flooring comes with an attached pad, underlayment may not be necessary.

How long do laminate floors last?

The average lifespan of laminate floors is 15 to 25 years, although it can vary between 10 and 30 years.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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