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Pergo invented laminate flooring, but the term “pergo” isn’t a synonym for all types of laminate flooring.

The company wants you to know that so it can protect its trademarked name from becoming so commonplace that it no longer qualifies for trademark protection, but that’s not the only reason to remember that it doesn’t exist in a category of one.

More than that, other manufacturers want you know that Pergo isn’t synonymous with laminate flooring because others offer different styles and types of flooring — and some think their products are superior to Pergo.

Pergo laminate flooring was the first of its kind when it came on the market in 1977. Perstop, a Swedish company, started the laminate flooring industry when they introduced the product they called Pergo. The company, however, had been making other types of laminate surfaces since 1923.

Pergo entered the European market in in 1984, but it was another 10 years before the product came to the United States. The Pergo name is often used to refer to any type of laminate, but the company’s trademark PERGO is protected from use by other companies.

That’s fine with many makers. Some claim they have superior manufacturing techniques, better style choices and even easier installation.

Laminate flooring is touted for its durability and ease of installation. While some higher-quality laminates stand up to abuse as well wood and stone tiles, laminate installs more easily than most flooring. In many cases, it can float about existing flooring or over a thin rubber or plastic mat.

Once a first row is laid, rows are simply tapped into place against it. End boards and those going around floor obstructions must be cut, but the planks filling the field of the floor don’t require cutting, painting or gluing. A sealant is usually applied over the finished floor, and other seals and accessories can be used for special applications.

While it is usually made to look like wood and installed in long strips similar in shape to natural planks, other looks and other shapes are also available. Wood-like patterns are the most commonly available styles made by Pergo.

So what it is? Laminate flooring is a synthetic floor covering made by fusing — or laminating — several layers together. The thickness of the decorative surface varies depending on the product’s quality, so dirt and debris can sometimes damage this type of flooring’s finish. Grit falling into the cracks between planks can also make the product look dirty if it isn’t cleaned regularly. Good installation can prevent these seems in the first place.

In addition, it’s important to keep most types of laminate flooring dry so the layers won’t warp, bulge or separate.

Despite the ease of installation of laminate flooring, the laminate flooring industry in general has been criticized — perhaps wrongly — for its impact on indoor air quality because formaldehyde is used in the manufacture of laminated products. Some experts, however, say this criticism is unfounded. Particle board, a common building material used in millions of homes, releases far more formaldehyde than Pergo laminate flooring or any other brand, they say.

No matter whether it is made by Pergo or another manufacturer, laminate flooring is considered a good-looking, economical alternative to natural floorings for a wide variety of applications. It is an especially good choice for quick and easy, low-mess remodeling.

No matter the application, laminates are worth considering alongside other flooring choices.

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Rob Woods

Rob served as BuildDirect's marketing manager from 2000 to 2010. In addition to heading up his own marketing company these days, he remains to be a handy guy around the house to this day.