Everyone has seen it: laminate flooring that stretches for miles and miles and miles, from home improvement blogs to the website of Home Depot.
But you’re still not clear on what laminate flooring is exactly—what is it, exactly?
Every day, we receive inquiries like this one.
To put it another way, laminate flooring is a type of composite flooring material.
Decorative concrete is made up of numerous layers, has been around for approximately 50 years, and is intended to enhance the aesthetics and resale value of your property while also withstanding everyday use.
The majority of the time, it is made to look like wood (but not always).
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the situation.
There are a plethora of different types of laminate flooring available today, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
And while it’s sometimes dismissed because of its low cost and once-artificial appearance (xoxo the 1980s), laminate flooring has truly come into its own as a durable, aesthetically pleasing, cost-effective, and low-maintenance type of flooring in recent years.
We’ll give you the lowdown on everything laminate in the sections below.
We’ll cover everything from what laminate is made of to how much it costs, how durable it is, where it can be installed, how to install it.
Bring your friend along and we’ll find out together!
The Fundamentals of Laminate Flooring
Floor coverings made of particleboard wood are known as the laminate flooring.
They have a particleboard wood foundation that is topped with an image layer and a clear wear layer.
Living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways, and other sections of the home that are not subjected to severe dampness are among the most common places to install laminate floors.
When purchasing flooring, there are eight questions to ask yourself.
Perstorp, a Swedish business, was responsible for the invention of laminate flooring in 1977.
By subjecting waste wood items to incredibly high pressure, heat, and binding chemicals, this company came up with the notion of turning the products into useful floor coverings, which they have successfully implemented.
Since then, numerous additional manufacturers, including Dupont, Mannington, Armstrong, and Shaw, have introduced laminate flooring to the market.
Advantages and disadvantages of Laminating Flooring
- Cleaning is simple.
- Excellent for families with pets and children.
- In comparison to other forms of floor coverings, it is quite inexpensive.
- Moisture has the potential to expand the laminate floor base.
- Chips quickly and easily
- Bathrooms and laundry rooms are not suitable for this product.
What is the composition of laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring is made up of three layers, to put it in the simplest terms.
They are listed in alphabetical order starting at the bottom:
To provide the material strength and stability, it should have a dense core or base layer made of plywood or high-density fiberboard.
This is the same base that is used in many of the greatest engineered wood flooring products on the market today.
Layer 2 is a photo-realistic image layer with great resolution.
Again, this image layer is typically used to simulate wood, but you can also discover stone-look and even metal-look varieties of this image layer.
The addition of a protective wear layer increases hardness and protection.
Because of this layer’s high toughness, laminate is one of the most durable flooring solutions available today.
However, depending on the exact product, certain varieties of laminate may additionally include an attached underlayment or backing layer beneath the base to improve moisture resistance or soundproofing properties.
What types of styles are available for laminate flooring?
When it comes to selecting the appearance of laminate flooring, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
Since high-resolution printing has advanced, there are very few types of flooring that laminate can’t accurately reproduce in this day and age.
In the case of elaborate wood floor designs, yet conventional hardwood isn’t a good fit for your family’s lifestyle, laminate offers an excellent imitation wood flooring alternative that looks and feels just like real wood.
Also available today is a laminate option to match practically any hardwood species, which is a huge advantage over the past.
If you like the beauty of hickory flooring but don’t want to deal with the drawbacks of hickory flooring, there is an alternative.
Choose laminate above other options.
Are you looking for an ebony flooring alternative that is sourced ethically?
Laminate is a fantastic material to use. Any color of wood floor you like is available; the only restriction is your imagination!
Where Is Laminate Flooring Appropriate for Installation?
Using laminate in your halls, entryways, dining rooms, and living rooms is a terrific idea (because its super-durable wear layer means it can stand up to heavy foot traffic and scratches).
However, because of its superb graphics, it is perfectly suited for use in bedrooms, family rooms, and even kitchens in some instances.
Materials for Laminate Flooring
Laminate floors are commonly referred to as laminate wood floors, despite the fact that they are only partially made of wood in two ways.
In the first place, the laminate floor base is made out of wood chips that have been crushed together.
For the second, because of the exact image layer, the top has the appearance of real wood—basically, a well-rendered photograph of wood encased in a clear, resistant wear layer—and is therefore more durable.
In order to make sheets, wood particles are compacted and exposed to high pressure.
These sheets have a photorealistic image of wood or stone put to the top, and the image is protected from damage by a protective wear layer on the bottom.
The wear layer, which is a robust, thin, clear plastic sheet, serves as a barrier between the fragile bottom layers and external elements like moisture, ultraviolet rays, and scratches.
It is made of polycarbonate plastic.
Wear Layer: Laminate flooring is a surface layer made up of two thin sheets of paper impregnated with melamine that is applied over a wood subfloor.
It is made of a hard transparent form of plastic sheet that is impenetrable to dogs, chairs, high heels, and other frequent harmful components.
It is the topmost surface layer.
Image Layer: Even when viewed up close, laminate flooring can appear to be genuine in appearance.
This is owing to the photographic-quality image of genuine wood that is printed on the laminate beneath the wear layer.
Base Layer (Core): There is approximately a half-inch of wood-chip composite beneath the wood-grain image.
Water damage can occur in any sort of wood chip product due to the nature of the material.
It is generally agreed that the base of laminate flooring is dimensionally stable, but only to a certain extent. It will withstand a certain amount of water, but only if the water is evacuated as rapidly as possible.
Methodology of Installation
Floating laminate floors are the only type of laminate flooring that may be laid.
The floorboards are connected to one another but not to the subfloor using this form of construction.
Because laminate floors use a modified tongue-and-groove system of attaching boards, they are installed in a manner similar to real hardwood flooring.
However, in contrast to hardwood flooring, which is normally installed by a professional, laminate flooring is extremely simple to install with only a few basic tools by the do-it-yourself enthusiast.
Laminate is always laid as a floating floor, regardless of the manufacturer.
Because it is not made of hardwood or engineered wood, it does not provide the same installation challenges as hardwood or engineered wood.
With the floating floor approach, you first put out a low-cost foam underlayment, then tape the underlayment together before laying out the laminate boards on top of the underlayment.
Because the planks are connected together from one piece to the next piece to form a single, extremely hefty unit, it is unable to move about at all.
Laminate flooring boards are either snapped together or glued together, depending on the type of laminate flooring you purchase.
The snap-together method that is most widely utilized is referred to by several names, including fold-and-lay and fold-and-lock.
While tongue and groove joinery, which is common in the woodworking industry and involves sliding one board laterally into the adjoining board, fold and lay begin with the two boards joined by outside grooves and oriented to one another.
Afterward, one board is folded down until it is the same thickness as the companion board.
With this folding mechanism, the two boards are brought imperceptibly closer together, reinforcing the bond and preventing water from leaking through.
Subflooring and underlayment are two terms that are used to refer to the same thing.
Laminate floors, like all floor coverings, require a sturdy, firm subfloor to function properly.
Underlayment is a layer of foam or felt that is placed between the subfloor and the laminate, separating the two surfaces and producing a softer footfall.
In rare cases, where the flooring is inadequate, an intervening underlayment of thin plywood may be added above the subfloor and below the foam underlayment to provide additional support and protection.
Installing laminate over flooring that isn’t level may result in ugly gaps between boards, so you’ll want to check that the subfloor is level before proceeding with the installation.
What is the lifespan of laminate flooring?
In a word, extremely. If your floors are subjected to a great deal of traffic and wear and tear, laminate flooring is one of the best options available.
Because, after all, what is laminate flooring if not extremely durable?
Stains and scuffs are easily removed from laminate flooring.
Maintaining new floors is a difficult task (even if you don’t have any children or animals).
Laminate, on the other hand, is one of the most durable types of flooring available.
It is difficult to discolor or gouge because of the strong wear layer that protects the surface.
Again, with the exception of PVC flooring and specific types of floor tiles, you will not find a scratch-resistant flooring option anyplace else.
As previously said, laminate is an excellent choice for high-traffic areas—especially if your home is not a “shoes-off” house.
Scuffs and scratches are unavoidable in everyday life, whether you’re dragging in your work boots following a long day at the office or dragging in your Amazon Pantry box from the porch.
Because laminate flooring is resistant to wear and tear, you can keep your floors appearing newer for a longer period of time.
In the case of comparing different types of flooring, such as carpet vs. laminate, this is a significant advantage for Team Laminate.
Is laminate flooring suitable for children? Is laminate flooring suitable for use with pets?
Your dog rushes around the corner at the slightest crinkle of a food wrapper, or does he ignore it entirely?
Do your children have a proclivity for unplanned juice spills and glitter explosions?
Laminate is available to you.
We adore our children and pets… but not all types of flooring share this sentiment.
When picking which floors to install in your home, you’ll want to consider how well they’ll function for all of the people who will be living there.
You’ll like laminate flooring’s great resilience and easy-to-maintain surface, which is perfect for new pups or slightly older children.
The scratch-resistance of laminate flooring surpasses that of even the best wood flooring for dogs.
However, keep in mind that more durable flooring is typically harder floors, and laminate is no exception to this.
Is your pet a little child who is just learning to walk or an elderly dog who might benefit from walking on a softer surface?
For example, you might want to look into the best cork flooring options available, or even the peel-and-stick carpet tiles available from Home Depot by the crate.
Is laminate flooring resistant to water?
Yes, as we described a little earlier, laminate can be used as a water-resistant flooring surface.
However, it is entirely dependent on the type of product you purchase!
Even plain ol’ laminate can withstand water in the same manner as engineered wood can withstand water.
You won’t have any problems if you clean up liquids as soon as possible.
This is due to the fact that the laminate’s wear layer is both sturdy and water-resistant, making it ideal for the occasional little spill or a pair of dripping rain boots.
Alternatively, if water leaks between the planks and is absorbed into the core layer, swelling and warping are both conceivable outcomes.
Once again, if you get a specific waterproof laminate product such as Revwood, this will not be an issue.
Is Laminate Flooring a Comfortable Floor Surface?
It is, without a doubt! Fiberboard or plywood is used as the foundation layer of laminate, which provides a wonderful cushiony sensation underfoot.
In fact, when it comes to faux wood flooring, the only surfaces that can compete with high-quality laminate in terms of comfort are some of the most luxurious EVP flooring products available on the market today (WPC flooring in particular).
However, like with all floors, the comfort of laminate flooring is dependent on a variety of factors, including the type, price range, underlayment, and installation method, among others.
Our Final Thoughts
Laminate flooring, which was first produced in the 1970s, was one of the first man-made alternatives to hardwood flooring.
It’s a terrific option for homeowners who want the look of hardwood floors but don’t want to spend a lot of money on flooring materials because it’s affordable.
Because of its thick composition, it is rather comfortable to walk on, making it a good choice for use in living rooms and corridors.
Frequently Ask Questions
What Is the Price of Laminate Flooring?
Back in the day, laminate used to be considered “cheap” or low-end—but that’s a relic of another time.
These days, technological advances have made this material both stylish and affordable.
The wear layer is no longer the plasticky-looking high-gloss you may remember from laminate’s early days (it was invented by Pergo back in 1977), and its price point varies widely.
Incidentally, Pergo still makes some of the best laminate around—check out some Pergo reviews for more info.
How much does laminate cost per square foot?
You can find laminate flooring at almost any price point. Prices start as low as $1 and range up to $10 or more per square foot.
This wide range accounts for the many design options available to you.
When you compare this to wood flooring costs, where exotic species can go for over $15 per square foot (before installation), you’re looking at saving a great deal of money when you opt for laminate.
And with its authentic-looking image layers, laminate makes it really hard to tell the difference.
How much does professional laminate installation cost?
It is conditional. The cost of professional laminate installation largely varies based on the type of job, the installation method, and your location.
The average cost per square foot is between $1 and $5.
If you compare that to the cost to install vinyl plank flooring, you’ll see the prices are about equal—which makes sense, given that the products can be installed in the same ways.
When compared to the expense of installing engineered hardwood flooring, however, laminate is the less expensive option!