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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. Is laminate pratical for a living room where 2 small dogs spend most of the time. I am concerned if they should pee on the floor. Will a laminate stand up when they have accidents?

  2. I have a question similar to Mr. Blatt above. We are enclosing an area of our house to make a sunroom. The room will be off grade and unconditioned. Our contractor is laying cement board as a moisture barrier. Can we install laminate? We live on the water.

  3. We are thinking of putting laminated flooring down. We are concerned about the floor being slippery and we are older and would be using a walker. Also does your furniture move when you set down. Thanks for your input.

  4. Please comment on installing laminate flooring in a basement over concrete slab floor containing imbedded radiant heat (hydronic tubing).

  5. will a laminate floor support the weight of a piano (large grand) without deforming like vinyl would?
    could we move the piano without leaving indentations where the wheels traveled?

  6. I am planning to laminate my sitting room instead of wood. I have house parties occasionally where there is a lot of dancing. I am wondering whether the laminate flooring will be a good idea. If not what type of flooring do you suggest. Thank you.

  7. WHat was your answer to Jack Blatt? We have a summer cottage with the same temperature and seasonal moisture problems. Thanks

    Richard DoBell

  8. We have installed laminate flooring in our kitchen. We Love it but we have noticed that when we walk on it in our bare feet. We see our foot prints all over the floor making the floor look dirty. Can you tell me what causes this. Is there anything we can do to keep this from happening? Not sure what to do about it. In the summer we are swiffering it everyday.

  9. Hi I’m renovating a restaurant in long island I need approximately 1700 square feet of footing some to have health code cove base to it. Wondering if such a laminate product exsists.

    Thank you
    John

    • Thanks for the comment John. Can you elaborate further what specific requirement of laminate flooring you are looking for? Let me know.

  10. Hi we just recently bought a house and it has slate tiles in the living n family room. And with 2 young kids I’m not too happy with tiles in the house. So my husband and I are planning to remove the slates and put laminates.
    Would it be wise to remove slates? Does it affect the value of the property?
    Thanks Zadeeya

  11. I love the laminate look of wood and told it was made from wood particles, but after much reading of many web sites for information, realized it is not.
    I was planning on using it in the kitchen and den which are attached to each other, therefore, making it look like one big long flowing room. My neighbors did this with porcelan tiles and it looks great. My question to you is this: Is there any wood products in laminate? Using glue and resin, is this safe? If I was to put laminate in my kitchen, what about the oven heat, water from sink or dishwasher, and whatever the refrigerator remits from the floor (maybe nothing). I don’t have pets now, but young grandchildren that visit occasionally. After months of research on-line and going to the flooring and hardware warehouse stores, I am not sure this would be a practical idea for me. I love the country feel of the laminate that appears to be wood and affordability compared to wood flooring. I have also consider using laminate in the dining room (where people eat) and living room. Please contact me regarding my floor project. Thanks for your input. Andrea

  12. We are considering laminate throughout the living area and kitchen, as alternative to my long-desired hardwood/tile flooring. Basing this decision on plans to add a good-sized canine to our family and advice from salespeople. Anxious to hear if Denise ever gets a response or has experience with her dogs and their friends. We are also concerned about seeing kitchens in the “do not install here” section, while there are plenty of sites talking about how to install it in kitchens. If I can’t have hardwood, I’d really like to have a continuous surface with the open concept kitchen.

  13. I have an outside
    extension totally enclosed(not a porch) .
    There is no heat or A/C.There is a crawlspace under the floor that is not insulated.
    There is no water problem. Can I use your product?
    Will there be a problem with expansion and contraction with the heat and cold.
    I live in N.Y.C.

  14. We’d like laminate in our living room which also has a piano. Is the consistent and heavy weight of the piano a factor?

    • Hi there,

      What you want to look at is the AC rating of the laminate flooring. AC rating is a measurement of how durable a laminate floor is in relation to where it is most suitable to be installed. The AC rating should always be considered.

      AC1-suitable for infrequent traffic (like bedrooms)
      AC2-limited to specialized areas of the house not noted for high traffic (living rooms)
      AC3-heavy residential use and light commercial use (high traffic areas like foyers and hallways)
      AC4-ready for a wider range of commerical use (busy offices)
      AC5-high commercial use (high traffic areas like Wal-Mart store)

      You will probably need at least an AC2 rated lamiante flooring. With the weight of the piano, you will probably need to put something underneath the piano (protectors) to prevent any marks on the flooring (this concept goes with any other flooring).

      Rodney

  15. I had laminate flooring installed in the summer of 2011. I already have a nick in the floor. What could cause this. The floor is in the dining area of the house. We have no children. We have a lab that lives inside, but this is in the middle of a walk way that would not be an area that anything could happen to. We had wood steps and risers installed on our stairs and they are fairing much better than the laminate. What could be the problem?

    • HI Cindy,
      Thank you for getting in touch with us, and your inquiry. It is hard to say what the problem maybe or what may have happened without seeing the floor and the nick in it. I you would like please send me a picture of the nick and I will have a look at it for you. This way we could suggest what you could do to fix it as well. My email address is garysandur@builddirect.com. I look forward to helping you.

  16. I am replacing lanoleum flooring in my kitchen and adjacent rooms including laundry room and small bathroom (approx 410 sf). I have been considering an Armstrong laminate product, L6568- Ivory Sand, but have concerns about water resistance and reaction to water exposure.

    Cold, hard tile is not our first choice; and, seams in rolled flooring is undesirable. What are your recommendations for flooring materials and manufacturers?

  17. Im confused. This article says its more durable and better scratch resistant than vinyl, and that its a good choice for homes with pets! I’ve seen plenty of feedbacks about laminates saying they scratch easily. Does vinyl scratch more than laminate? Some of the vinyl planks look just like wood, seem more durable…

    • Hi Karen,

      If comparing our vinyl to to laminate flooring, they would have at least an AC4 rating. This means durability is very high and can be used for a wider range of commerical applications, such as boutiques and busy offices.

      Vinyl is very durable and resilient to scratching. Although there is no such flooring as scratch proof, the vinyl is comparable to an AC4 rating for laminate and more durable than a natural product.

      Cheers,
      Rodney

  18. I’m building n builder isn’t wild about it. Says warranties aren’t that great. Will verify later as store has closed.for day. It has 25 yr warranty 12mm n I witnessed salesperson take a car key n rub flooring. Left no mark. I have dogs, big dogs n they have friends. So I’m looking for.reassurance.

  19. The sample you sent [ hazelnut] looks more yellow than the brownish than the the picture looks The sample looks more like the golden walnut i wonder if this is a mistake .

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