Laminate flooring is used on about 8% of the total number of homes in America. It represents about 6% of all floors in new construction. About 29% of new homes have it as an option on their list of top 50 most common flooring choices.
Since laminate flooring is versatile, easy to install, and generally affordable, it’s an attractive option for your home. But before you make the decision to purchase a new floor for your home, there are a few things you should know about laminate floors.
Sometimes people assume that because they have the word “laminate” in the name they are somewhat similar to real wood or natural stone tiles.
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. Due to the fact that laminate floors are made of multiple types of layers, they can be anything from a dense, thick surface to something very thin and delicate.
The layers in laminate flooring have different textures. Some layers may feel more like hardwood while others feel more like a soft grade carpet. Because the name “laminate” is not closely related to any actual product type or material, this flooring will vary considerably from one laminate flooring manufacturer to the next, even within the same brand.
As a result, there are many different types of laminate flooring option.
Types of laminate flooring
When choosing the types of laminate, you have two options: engineered wood laminate and plastic laminate.
Engineered wood laminate
Engineered wood laminates are made of multiple layers of real hardwood, pressed into shape. Because it is engineered wood, this laminate is typically made of hardwood particleboard and medium-density fiberboard.
It may also be made up of other types of wood or natural materials like bamboo, hard maple, and mahogany.
The core layer of engineered flooring may be pressed cardboard, chipboard, or plywood covered with a high-density fiberboard (HDF) veneer.
It may be stained or not stained. It may be finished with a high gloss coating or it may have a matte finish.
Plastic laminate flooring, as the name implies, is made of multiple layers of plastic, not wood or stone. It can have many of the same layers as engineered wood laminate, but the top layer will typically look like hardwood rather than tile or stone.
Regardless of the print design on the surface, plastic laminate is typically sold either as a single piece of flooring or as modular flooring tiles. Modular flooring tiles can be assembled in any pattern to create large expanses of floors.
What should I look for when buying laminate flooring?
When you set out to shop for laminate flooring, there is some basic information you should take into account, such as the quality of the laminate, thickness, plank size, pricing, ease of installation, and its maintenance among others.
What is high-quality laminate flooring?
These are the five most important criteria of quality laminate flooring.
1. Thickness of the laminate
So what thickness is best for laminate flooring? Laminate flooring is available in 7mm to 12mm thickness. The thicker the laminate the more it feels like a real hardwood floor. Thicker laminates also help cover uneven areas in the subfloor and absorb noise.
2. AC Wear Rating
What is AC Wear Rating? AC means Abrasion Rating, and AC Wear Rating basically determines how resistant a laminate flooring product is from abrasion and impact. Each laminate is designated with an AC rating that ranges from AC1 to AC5, with 5 being the highest.
- AC1 is for rooms that get light foot traffic usually in guest bedrooms or dining rooms that are rarely used.
- AC2 is for areas with moderate foot traffic such as family rooms and bedrooms.
- AC3 laminate is considered the highest rating for homeowners and can be used for areas at home that get heavy traffic such as living rooms, hallways, stairs, and kitchen.
- AC4 rating is specifically tested and intended for commercial spaces such as offices, salons, and cafes.
- AC5 is the highest durability and abrasion-resistant rating. It is suitable for high-traffic commercial spaces like department stores, public offices, and buildings that get a lot of heavy back and forth foot traffic.
3. Moisture and water resistance
Flooring products are tested to determine how moisture and water resistant the laminates are. Laminate flooring protects your floors from water penetration by encapsulating the subfloor with a protective barrier. The air-permeable waterproofing membrane stops water from seeping into the main subfloor of your home. Water damage will be reduced and the longevity of your floor will be significantly increased.
Which laminate flooring is waterproof? There are laminates in the market that features some waterproof capabilities such as Mohawk Antique Craft, Estate, and TimberCore. However, these water resistant and waterproof laminates come with a higher price tag than the traditional laminates.
4. Texture and finish
Laminate comes in a variety of textures and finishes. The finish is the actual texture of the floor. You can select from smooth and high gloss to woven patterns and different grain patterns to give it a more solid feel of real wood.
5. Environmental and health-friendly
Laminate flooring contains VOCs or volatile organic compounds that off-gassed from chemical flooring adhesives. This includes formaldehyde, aluminum oxide, isocyanate, melamine, and cyanuric acid.
How to reduce the toxicity of the laminate floor in your home?
- Make sure to open windows for a few minutes daily and let the fresh air in.
- Install exhaust fans
- Make sure rooms with laminates are smoke-free including tobacco smoke
- Ensure home temperature and humidity levels remain low
If you want to ensure that your laminates are safe and eco-friendly then we suggest purchasing a non-formaldehyde laminate that will not require any adhesive such as floating laminate.
Choose a laminate floor with water-based ink and contains low VOCs and isocyanate-free glue. Check if the laminate manufacturer off-gasses before selling to their suppliers.
Look out for the following labels:
- NAF (no added formaldehyde)
- NAUF (no added urea-formaldehyde)
- ULF (ultra low-emitting formaldehyde)
How much is laminate flooring?
The price of the laminate flooring depends on its grade. An entry-level laminate costs around $2 and up. A good quality laminate costs between $3 and $5, while the best is on the market today, with a top layer of solid hardwood and no warp or movement problems, can cost from $20 to $35 per square foot or more.
How much does it cost to do laminate flooring?
The installation cost for laminate flooring in the US is around $0.15-$0.25 per square foot. The cost depends on the type of installation and the quantity of materials needed to do the job. Improved designs and materials used in manufacture can lower the installation cost but not by more than $1-$3 for a typical home size installation.
What tools do I need to fit laminate flooring?
When you want to go the DIY route, these are the tools you will need to fit laminate flooring:
- Pencil and a level
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Punches and nail set
- Shovel or vacuum cleaner
Where to buy laminate flooring?
The best flooring stores in the USA that sell laminate flooring are Home Depot, Lowes, Ace, and Lumber Liquidators.
Laminate flooring is the most popular choice for homeowners in the US and around the world. However, selecting it as your new flooring can be a difficult task because there are so many options and types available on the market today.