Let’s take a quick look at laminate flooring, its pros and cons, and when you should and shouldn’t be using it.
While laminate flooring has earned a bit of a bad reputation over the years for being both cheap and looking cheap, the kind of laminate flooring you can buy today is not the same as what your parents might have installed. The quality has dramatically improved.
Laminate is now an affordable way to get a real wood look, or a number of other natural looks, at a fraction of the price. High-definition printing and embossing techniques mean that the planks not only look real, but they can also feel real underfoot—and all this for around $1.00–$5.00 per square foot, depending on the options you go with.
You can expect to pay between $3.00–$10.00 per square foot for standard hardwood floors.But that is not where all the cost lies. They are also infamously tricky to install and require a professional. Laminate floor on the other hand is relatively easy to install, as you can float the floor on top of most existing floors. Anyone reasonably experienced with DIY should be able to do it.
The floor you are left with is also easier to maintain than hardwood and more durable. In particular, it does a better job of holding up against liquids and won’t warp at the slightest spill. This means you can put laminate in kitchens and bathrooms, spaces that are often a complete no-no for wood.
But, of course, laminate floors aren’t perfect or everyone would have them. One of the major drawbacks is that they add absolutely nothing to the value of your home. But that is not necessarily the thing you should be most concerned about.
Laminate flooring can contain volatile organic compounds, which basically poison the air you breathe. You will need to shop around and pay a little more for options that are VOC-safe. If you are concerned about the environment, you also will not be pleased to hear that laminate is not biodegradable. But again, you can find more environmentally friendly options if you are willing to pay a little more.
While laminate flooring is durable, if it does get damaged, there isn’t much you can do. There are no options to refinish the floor; the planks simply need to be replaced. Also, while laminate is much more water-resistant than hardwood floors, they aren’t waterproof, so you will need to monitor the space for dampness and the floor for damage. For this reason, luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring can be a better option in damp spaces.
So the verdict is that laminate flooring is a great option if you are looking for a more affordable way to get a hardwood look in your home, perhaps one you can install yourself. It can also be an option for a hardwood look in spaces that are too damp for hardwood, but there are other, better options for these spaces as well.
Before dwelling on the design layer, it’s important to understand the rest of the laminate sandwich.
The bottom backing layer, also known as the balancing layer, provides a stable support surface for the rest of the plank. It’s a bread slice.
Atop the backing layer sits the meat of the sandwich, called the core. Made of particle board or, more typically, high-density fiberboard, the core contains the routed tongue-and-groove edges that allow each plank to connect to its neighbors.
The design layer is applied above the core, providing the image of the actual wood grain, ceramic tile, or stone pattern. Digitally enhanced embossing technology allows Mohawk and other manufacturers to create remarkable reproductions of their natural wood and stone counterparts.
The transparent top layer of the sandwich provides protection against wear, fading, staining, and scratching. This layer may include melamine resin or aluminum oxide for extra durability and moisture protection.
The layers are then laminated, or pressed together, using intense pressure and heat into laminate sheets. Finally, the sheets are sliced into individual planks and the tongue-and-groove edges are cut.
One additional layer should be noted: the underlayment. The laminate underlayment is typically a separate layer acting as the plate for the sandwich, providing a smooth and even layer on which the laminate flooring system “floats.”
West Ashley Tool & Rental has the equipment you need for flooring prep, installation and maintenance.
This content was originally published here.