Is Laminate Flooring Right for Me?
So you’re thinking about buying a laminate floor to transform a room or even your entire home, office, or business. Now all you have to do is decide if laminate is right for your needs. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of laminate to help you decide.
Yes, laminate looks good and is made to mimic the look of wood, stone, or tile. Yes, it’s durable because it resists scratches and stains. And laminates can be priced perfectly to suit your needs. There are many reasons why a laminate floor might be perfect for you.
Laminate Flooring is Durable
Laminate is a strong, scratch-resistant, and highly durable flooring surface. It is protected by a tough external layer and resin coating, making it compatible for high traffic areas and houses where there are pets and children. For general residential and light commercial use, be sure to choose a laminate with an AC rating of 3 or higher.
Easy To Install
Laminate is a lot easier to install than other floor types. Why? Because the boards are designed to interlock, making them easy to work with. Laminate can be “floated” over most existing floors, saving significant installation time over other types of flooring which may need to be glued, stapled or nailed down. Over two-thirds of laminate is glueless click, further saving on installation time and cost. It’s so easy to install, most people can do it themselves.
An incredibly versatile flooring option, laminate can be installed on nearly any type of dry, clean, and level subfloor. Subfloor options include concrete, new wood subfloors, and existing vinyl or ceramic floors. In many cases when the installation of a hardwood floor is not compatible with a subfloor, laminate flooring is a viable option.
An Economical Choice
Laminate flooring is relatively less expensive than most flooring options available in the market and yet does not fall short when it comes to form and function. There is a laminate flooring choice for every price range.
Wide Choice of Quality
There are ways you can tailor your laminate flooring choice to your exact needs. If you have a truly high traffic situation like a retail store or another type of business, you can choose to spend more money on a thicker laminate with a higher AC Rating. Conversely, if you just want a nice living room floor and your living room will never see the kind of foot traffic a retail store will, you don’t have to spend money on thickness or a higher AC Rating. Instead, you can concentrate on getting the look you’re after.
Wide Variety of Styles
Laminate flooring is sold in a wide variety of wood, stone, and tile finishes. All of these are available in different colors, surface treatments, thicknesses, and plank styles.
Most laminate floors come with great warranties against wear, staining, and fading. In other words, the manufacture is guaranteeing that their wear layer will stand up to years of use. You may even find some laminates with warranties against moisture meaning that their product is guaranteed to stand up to use in areas like basements and kitchens, etc., although bathrooms are usually out of the question.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
Laminate flooring’s moisture and stain resistant surface makes cleaning of spills easy. There are no special cleaners needed to keep a laminate floor in top shape. Daily sweeping is all you need.
According to the North American Laminate Flooring Association, “Since it is made from paper, laminate’s manufacture does not involve the harvesting of hardwoods as does that of wood flooring. Unlike some carpet, laminate does not contain significant quantities of some elements that affect indoor air quality. And when a laminate floor is easily replaced, it can be destroyed with no danger to the environment.”
Since there are no places to trap dust and other particles that can cause allergies for some people, laminate flooring is a great choice. The underlayment provides a moisture barrier that not only protects the floor from damage, but also prevents mold from forming and sporing.
Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring
Not for Every Use
Laminates can’t go everywhere. For instance, it is not recommended to install a laminate floor in areas where there is a great deal of moisture. Outdoors? No, never. Basement? Yes, within reason. Don’t install it in a laundry room or bathroom where there may be wet objects or accidents with water are likely to occur. Check here for more where to install it dos and don’ts.
Laminates are built to be moisture resistant but not waterproof. The well-sealed wear layer of laminates easily tolerate damp mopping etc, but once moisture finds its way along the edges, underneath the surface layer, or into the locking system, warping, and swelling can ruin your floor.
Wood-Like But Not Real Wood
Laminates are not solid wood. So they will sound and feel slightly differently underfoot. If you want the acoustics of real hardwood under your bare feet, laminate is probably not the right choice for you, unless you opt for a thick board such as 12mm or 15mm.
Additionally, because laminates are floating rather than attached to the sub-floor as hardwood floors are, there will always be a slight gap between the laminate and the subfloor—even with the underlayment. That’s why laminates tend to sound different than wood. You can ask for thicker underlayment to minimize this effect but a laminate floor will never sound exactly the same as hardwood. Some people don’t mind at all whereas for others that is reason enough to bypass laminates altogether. You have to decide for yourself.
Where Can Laminate Floors Be Installed?
Laminate wood floors are extremely versatile flooring products. A laminate floor installation can be done in almost every room of your home, above or below ground, over wood or concrete. Most of the floor manufacturers market their laminate floors as an ‘install anywhere’ product.
You can even install laminate on stairs without underlayment but you’ll need to ensure it meets your local building code. Are you looking for a laminate that will be compatible with your radiant heated floors? It’s possible to find one but make sure it’s the right one—check with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Don’t install laminates in bathrooms, laundry rooms, saunas, enclosed porches, verandas or anywhere that may require wet mopping. Use common sense to keep laminates away from copious amounts of water.