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Is Laminate Flooring Right for Me?

choosing a floor

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.

Advantages of Laminatechelsea-hickory-room

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.

Subfloors. 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.

Solid Warranties. 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.

Environmentally-Conscious. 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.”

Hypoallergenic Qualities. 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

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 / Not 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.

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(48) Comments

  1. Hi, I have a question regarding laminate flooring. My basement was done in 2014 with 12mm laminate flooring. Underneath the laminate flooring is the DRICORE laying.

    My question is, I’m considering placing a 125 gallon aquarium in the basement but I’m not sure if placing on the laminate floor is a good idea. Mostly due to the weight. The overall weight is estimated to be around 1200 lbs.

    I’d like to get your feedback on this.

    Thank you.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Maj,

      Thank you for getting in touch. I would highly recommend against putting the aquarium on top of the laminate. Laminate expands and contracts over time and the weight of the aquarium will be too much for the floor to handle, it will most likely come apart around the tank. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

      • Thank you. I appreciate your response. I understand the weight of a 125 gallon aquarium will be excessive on the laminate floor. However, is there a maximum weight I can put on 12mm laminate flooring with DRICORE underneath?

        Thank you.

  2. I actually have a question. It’s this, in the home we currently are in, we are looking at redoing the floors with a laminate. I still haven’t been able to decide on which pattern I like the best, however we live in a 4 level side split home and the main floor is already laminate. It’s a oak champagne and wide plank 8mm. I believe it’s old as the extra package that was left has little markings on it except for the color and the 8mm. There’s no brand name or company that it was bought through. So I have no idea what to do where it’s concerned. And the fact it’s the first thing you see when you enter the house leaves me to wonder if I should replace it as well. I know I won’t probably be able to match it since there’s no brand name or company or what have you to help me. I will also be doing the stairs with laminate and there are stairs going up to the upper level as well as the 1st of the two lower levels, and so they will be seen right away. There are chips in the existing laminate as well as the ends seem to be slightly raised like they were pushed too tight together, but not all joints are like that just quite a few. Enough that the first guests we had noticed the problems with the floor immediately. So what do you think I should do? Should I replace the whole floor and have it match the stairs and other levels or should I try to see if I can find something similar? Just remember that you can see it when you walk into the house, the stairs are only 8 ft from the front door. HELP!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Kim,

      Thank you for getting in touch! I don’t have any interior design experience so it’s a bit hard to tell without seeing the area in person. From what you have described I would suggest replacing the entire floor. It seems like the old floor has a bit of wear and once you have that right against the new floor the wear will become much more prominent. It will also make the space look bigger if you have one color throughout rather than cutting the floor into two different sections. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  3. I am renovating my home, and want to replace my current flooring of carpet with laminate flooring. I live in FL and my living room/dinning room, and family room areas are covered with ceramic tile. It will be too expensive to remove the tiles professionally and i don’t have the skills to do the work myself. I have been told that laminate flooring can be installed on top of tile flooring. If that is the case will that increase the height of the flooring where it will it will not look right with the ceramic tile in other rooms that are not being replaced.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Maryanne,

      Thank you for getting in touch! You are correct, you can install laminate over tile as long as you have the proper underlay. One thing to note is that you will need to check to ensure your floor is level before you can put the laminate down. If the levelness of the floor varies greater than 1/8″ over an eight foot span you will need to use a self leveler to ensure the laminate stays stable. There will be a difference in height between the laminate and your original tile but there are moldings that can help transition from the laminate to the tile. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  4. I’m looking at the comments regarding moisture and laminate flooring. I’d like to install in our 2 upstairs bedrooms, but have 2 questions. First, if a careless kid drops a damp towel on the floor (assuming the towel isn’t soaked) in a bedroom and it sits there a while, is that enough moisture to damage a laminate floor? Second, our house is old and the floors upstairs are not completely level, flat but not level. Can a laminate floor be laid on such a surface.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for getting in touch! I can’t guarantee whether the floor will or will not get damaged if the damp towel sits on the floor for an extended period of time. You will want to keep moisture off the floor as much as possible because the material it is made of absorbs moisture and it will start to swell and delaminate. I don’t think it will be damaged if the towel sits there once or twice but if it happens quite a few times you will most likely have spots with water damage, I just can’t 100% guarantee. It may be a good idea to look at using luxury vinyl plank rather than laminate because it is water-resistant.

      You will need to have a level floor to install laminate. If there is a variance in how level the floor is of over 1/8″ over an 8 foot span you will need to use a self leveling product or the floor will not stay stable when it is installed. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  5. Pingback: Where Can You Install Laminate Flooring?

  6. We are selling our home. We have saltillo tile in kitchen, bath, hall and LR, about 500 sq ft. To have the tile restored is very costly. Can the laminate be installed directly over the tile or do we need a subfloor. If we need a subfloor, how much vertical space would the subfloor and the laminate take? ie How far up would the floor go with the addition of subfloor and laminate? Thank you for your help.

  7. I live in a high rise apartment and I am strongly interested in having a laminate wood floor installed in the living room and dining room because I think it will be easier to clean. Currently, I have carpeting in these rooms. During the winter I do not humidify my apartment. The level of humidity is about 35% to 40%. Given low humidity environment is a laminate floor a wise choice?

  8. Looking for flooring for beach kitchen but just read “where not to install laminates in kitchens, bathrooms, etc. anywhere where you mop.??? I have to mop. Can’t stand dirty floors and we live in our house. How do you clean them?

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Damp mops and dry mopping are the way to go with laminate flooring. Too much moisture tends to seep into the seams, which can cause the boards to swell. But, a damp mop generally does the trick. So, you don’t have to suffer dirty floors when you install a laminate. Luckily, with the wear layer on a laminate floor, it’s pretty easy to keep them clean without soaking them anyway.

      I hope this helps!

  9. Actually, I have a question. I am a wheelchair bound lady and live in a mobile home.Because the doors on the home are quite narrow I use an office chair to get around inside, hence, the problem. I am in dire need of new flooring. I had vinyl plank installed in my kitchen and because the wheels of the chair I use are hard rubber, it took very little time before the planking was ruined. I constantly get caught on the floor and one of these days I expect the chair to throw me right out of it. I would like to install either sheet vinyl or the vinyl squares. What would you suggest?

  10. Well, it is like this. I am in the middle of a sewer back up problem that wiped out 1600 square foot of flooring mostly 9″ vinyl tile (28 yrs. down) and carpet. The carpet wicked up the moisture into the walls and in most cases 4′ of sheetrock and all of the paneling was removed. Now I am having to decide what to place back on the floors. It is cement slab. I wanted to sand and polish the concrete but there is black mastic left from the old vinyl tile. I thought of staining the floor but that requires diamond sanding which is expensive. Painting was an option too but the square edges of the old tile shows and still would take a lot of sanding so I am told. Shaw makes a vinyl tile in 6″X36″ that looks like wood and has a pad attached and besides even looks good. However, I am told even though it floats the edges will come apart eventually and my contractor does not recommend it. So what can I use? Laminate is noisy to me. I do plan to use area carpets where I can…in the Den, Playroom, in-laws suite, library, laundry, and bedroom. Help me please!

  11. I have radiant heat in my kitchen and laundry room I was thinking about putting this flooring in the two rooms I don’t had a problem with water, other then a spill of something . is this bad for my heat ?
    It feel great in the winter under your feet so I don’t know what to do linda

  12. I have a rubber tile in my kitchen which I would like to replace. It’s been there for over 50 years and is just now starting to crack … Problem is that the covebase is the floor rolled into place. Do I have to remove existing floor? And … the rubber floor is “rolled” into place as a covebase. Can I roll the laminate as well?

  13. Dumafloor and Aqua-step offer waterproof laminate flooring. Does anyone know if their products are good? I have puppies that need to live on the flooring – wet, scratch resistance needed

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