What, Exactly, Is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is an excellent option for any home and especially in rooms that are not suitable for hardwood flooring, such as bathroom and kitchens. A laminate wood floor installation also provides the look of other flooring materials such as solid stone or high-end timber but without the price tag!

Laminate flooring is a synthetic floor material created by fusing together multiple layers of materials, which are then topped with a photographic reproduction of floor tiles, timber, and the like. This photographic layer is covered in a thin, protective plastic coating.

While synthetic flooring might be not the preferred choice for many homeowners, a laminate wood floor installation offers many benefits and especially when compared to low-quality flooring options. While a laminate flooring contractor near you can offer some specific advice as to the best choice of floor tiles, hardwood, carpet, and other materials for your home, note some reasons why you might consider laminate tiles, a laminate floating wood floor installation, and other similar laminate options.

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What Is Laminate Flooring?

The term “laminate flooring” gives you a clue as to how this material is created. Laminating something refers to fusing or binding it permanently to another material; a laminated lapel card, as an example, is typically a paper card covered in plastic and then put through a heat source so that the plastic melts and fuses to the paper.

While this is how paper is laminated, keep in mind that laminated floorboards are made in a factory and installed in your home just like other flooring materials; the floorboards are not fused to your home’s flooring! To better understand if laminated floors are right for your home, you might note the process by which this flooring material is created and then installed in a home. This can help you appreciate the durability of laminate tiles and note why it’s such a popular option for many homeowners today!

  • Laminated floorboards start with a layer of melamine, a type of plastic that is shaped and molded to create a sub-base for the floors and which provides both fire and water resistance for the flooring itself. This layer of melamine also adds balance to the floorboards, ensuring that they’re the same weight on the top as well as the bottom.
  • A core layer of medium density fiberboard or MDF is added, to give the floorboards stability and strength as well as their thickness.
  • Next, the floorboards have what is called their visual layer added. This visual layer is actually a high-quality, high-resolution photographic reproduction of another material such as wood, stone, vinyl flooring, and the like.
  • The last layer is a topcoat over this visual layer. The topcoat is comprised of a very thin layer of resin and cellulose, providing protection for the photograph under it! The topcoat might also be etched or scored to match the photographic visual layer; this etching might resemble wood grain, the pits and pores of stone, or other such patterns.
  • An underlayment is placed underneath the laminate flooring during the installation process, to cushion the floorboards and provide added sound absorption. An underlayment also reduces movement of the floorboards and any clicking sound of boards pushing together as you walk across the floors.

Why Choose a Laminate Wood Floor Installation

A laminate wood floor installation offers many advantages over solid hardwood flooring, stone, tile, carpeting, and other materials, and is an especially excellent choice for rooms that are not right for hardwood and carpeting, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Note some reasons why you might choose laminate flooring and why this flooring installation is a great choice for any home.

  • Installation of laminate flooring is fast and relatively simple for most flooring contractors. A laminate floating wood floor installation is placed over your home’s current flooring so there is no need to tear out carpet or tile, resulting in less time and less mess!
  • Laminate flooring needs little to no maintenance over the years; the protective top layer rarely suffers chips, cracks, scratches, and other damage, so there is no need to refinish the flooring as you need to do with real hardwood.
  • Laminated floorboards come clean with a simple damp mop. The upper layer also repels water, food stains, and the like, keeping the floorboards looking like new for years to come.
  • The photographic visual layer of laminated floorboards will not typically fade or discolor over the years, as will many flooring options and especially when exposed to harsh sunlight and heavy foot traffic.
  • A laminate floor doesn’t trap and hold dirt, dust, pollen, pet hair and dander, and other irritants, as does carpet fiber. Your home’s indoor air quality is often improved when you choose a laminate wood floor installation!
  • As laminated wood floorboards never need stripping and repainting or a fresh coat of stain, you don’t need to worry about volatile organic compounds and other irritants that are present in floor paints and coatings. You also don’t need to worry about dust and debris that tends to settle onto a home’s surfaces during wood floor refinishing!
  • The upper layer or topcoat of laminate flooring repels water so it’s an excellent choice of flooring for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements, and any other interior space with lots of trapped humidity and the risk of water spills and floods.
  • The underlayment of laminated floorboards keeps them quiet and soft underfoot.
laminate flooring

Are There Disadvantages to Laminate Flooring?

Of course there are disadvantages to any flooring material for a home, and laminated floorboards are no different! One disadvantage is that they do tend to look and feel synthetic and a person might be able to tell the difference between your new laminated floors and real hardwood.

While many homeowners appreciated that laminated floorboards don’t need sanding and refinishing over the years, this also means that you cannot change the color of those floors! Real hardwood offers you the chance to sand off the top coat and apply new paint or stain, whereas laminated floorboards are unchangeable. While laminated floors are incredibly durable, they might suffer dents and dings on occasion and, since they cannot be resurfaced, they then need replacing.

The underlayment of laminate flooring does soften the feeling of those floors underfoot, but these boards are not as soft as carpeting. If you have children who play on the floor, you might need area rugs in their playroom to soften that flooring under their delicate knees!

It’s also vital to note that most brands and types of laminate flooring are highly recyclable, meaning that a high percentage of the boards can be recycled or reused. However, you typically cannot just put old laminate flooring in your everyday recycling bins as most recycling companies cannot break apart the fused layers of these floors. Instead, you might need to have a laminate flooring contractor remove those floors and send the old boards to a flooring company that accepts laminated floorboards for recycling.

Is Installation of Laminate Flooring a DIY Job?

A floating laminate wood floor installation is not as complicated as putting down solid wood floors or installing carpeting, as floating floors snap together over the current materials. While some homeowners might consider tackling this job on their own, there are many good reasons to consider relying on a laminate flooring contractor near you instead.

One reason is that your home’s current floors need to be strong and in good condition to support a floating floor. A laminate flooring installation contractor is qualified to give those floors a thorough inspection and ensure that they are suitable for a floating floor over them. Loose tiles, especially worn carpeting, damaged subflooring, and other such materials might need replacing or removing before a floating floor installation.

Certain tiles and wood floors might also require thick underlayment, to help absorb sound and movement, whereas some carpeting might be overly thick and crowd the laminate floorboards. You also don’t want to trap dirt, dust, and other debris under your new laminated floorboards, and a flooring contractor ensures that those floors are clean as well as strong enough for new flooring.

As with any floor tile or plank installation, it’s vital to install each piece precisely level and even so that the end result is cohesive and attractive. Improper laminate flooring installation might result in some planks “veering off” in a certain direction or sitting uneven against walls and baseboards.

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Related Questions

Are all laminated floorboards alike?

As with all types of flooring materials, there will be differences in the quality of various laminated floorboard brands. Name brands might be more expensive but will often have thicker underlayment and better quality visual layers, for a more attractive and comfortable laminated flooring.

How long do laminated floorboards last?

The expected lifespan of your new laminated flooring depends on the brand name, the quality of installation, and its everyday wear and tear. Check with your flooring manufacturer or installer for the expected lifespan of your new floors, and don’t hesitate to ask for tips on how to keep that laminated flooring in good condition for as long as possible.

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