What is Laminate Flooring?
Briefly? Laminate flooring is made of synthetic floor planks composed primarily of milled wood leftovers, and topped with photographic images. These are protected by tough, clear top layers and stabilizing bottom layers. Laminate floors usually simulate a wood plank or stone tile look.
Relatively new in the
field, laminate flooring was invented in 1977 for two main reasons. A lot of
people wanted the look of hardwood, but could not afford it. Additionally,
people who wanted the wood flooring look needed more durability than many
hardwoods can provide. While laminate floors are not considered to be real
wood flooring, they are still primarily comprised of wood material.
Why choose a laminate floor for your home?
- Laminate flooring comes in an unbeatable selection of styles.
- Laminate floors have varying levels of durability.
- Laminate is versatile. There are more room options for laminate floors.
- Laminate flooring costs less.
- Laminate flooring is easy to maintain.
- Laminate flooring is hypoallergenic.
- Most laminates are very easy to install.
- Laminate flooring comes with long term warranties.
- Laminate flooring is environmentally friendly.
What can your floor look like?
There are two broad categories of laminate looks. Laminate Wood Flooring is the most popular style, being the reason this product was invented in the first place. Laminate Tile and Stone Style Flooring is designed to look like floors made out of tiles of stone, right down to the grout lines.
The surface can have a high gloss, “piano” finish, a softer, matte look, and even hand-scraped textures. A properly installed laminate floor will be stable, snug from plank to plank, snug with trims and moldings, level and even. It should look smooth overall, despite any textured finishes.
Where can’t you put some laminate floors?
It can be installed over both concrete and wood, both above and below grade, and into almost any room in any home, but can laminates really go everywhere? Well no, not quite. If your basement regularly floods, you should avoid laminate, and it can never be installed outdoors. There are some things to consider, environmental as well as aesthetic. The big three are the subfloor which would be under the laminate, a room’s moisture levels, and the expected wear and tear.
Installing laminate flooring: should you do it yourself?
Because of the prevalence of click together, floating floor installation systems, it is very possible that you could do a laminate flooring installation by yourself. It is not only likely to be very easy to do, but there is also a wealth of online information on how to install laminate flooring. All laminates come with installation instructions. We are producing an increasing number of videos demonstrating the click together systems and other installation issues, and there are plenty more out on the web.
We had a question posed on our post on Hardwood Floors vs. Vinyl Plank Floors, and I think it may be a commonplace enough issue that I didn't want to leave it buried way down in the comments section of an unrelated post.
Ann wrote: "We have two large dogs and we are involved in rescue so we occasionally foster. Can you recommend a product that will be the most durable and least succeptibile to scratches? Also, warmest under foot as we live in Minnesota. I'm assuming the vinyl is warmer than tile at least."Hi, Ann,
The best balance of your two needs will come with a laminate floor, specifically a 12mm thick one for warmth, one with no pad pre-attached, and with an
AC rating, the laminate durability rating, of at least 3 or 4. We do carry some AC4 rated laminates from time to time. It's a commercial grade floor and we tend to sell to home owners, but when we can get it we do because better is... well, better. You can put a commercial quality floor in your home, and it will just be that much tougher.
For the dogs a stone or ceramic tile would be the absolute best, as you probably know - it's all slabs of rock, basically - but you're right that it will give you a cold floor. Laminate would be the very next product on the list for surface durability because it is usually coated with aluminum oxide, which is very tough stuff. For instance, we recommend no one walk on hardwood flooring with high heels, not on any hardwood. Most laminate? It's pretty much not a big deal, walk all you like.
I also recommend a laminate for the warmth. It's thicker than vinyl, enough to overcome the differences in density. 12mm is the thickest made, so look for those. Also you will have padding under a laminate floor. With much vinyl you not only won't, but you can't.
You see, there is a limit to the amount of padding that can go under a floor, usually up to 4-5mm, and if you already have 2mm attached, you're only able to add a 2mm pad to roll under and add warmth. There are other pads made of felt, rubber and other materials which are designed to add warmth, but they come 4-5mm thick already, so those would not be options under a product that already comes with 2mm of attached padding.
This is such an important factor for some people that we carry laminates both with and without attached padding.
So look for a 12mm thick, AC3-4 rated laminate floor with aluminum oxide on the top and a well chosen pad designed for warmth is the ticket for the situation you've described.
I hope this is helpful!
– – – –
David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager,a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with W. David Lichty
Follow Team Floors To Your Home on Facebook