Laminate flooring gives you the best of both worlds. If you like the look of a beautiful hardwood or tile floor but don’t want to incur the expense or upkeep, laminate flooring can be the perfect solution.
Laminate flooring is comprised of a fiberboard layer, a balancing layer, thin paper-like fibrous material, and various sealants. An image of a certain hardwood grain or stone tile is imprinted on a layer of the laminate flooring so it looks like the real thing. The flooring’s top layer is a protective sheet that helps to prevent wear and tear, to keep your floors looking brand new at all times. It is like having a big laminated photo of natural flooring that is mounted onto your floors.
After you make the decision to use laminate flooring in your house, you might think you have made all of the hard decisions. However, you might feel overwhelmed by the huge range of options that are available. The following are five important things you should consider when purchasing laminate flooring for your home:
1. Laminate Floor Design
Whatever you can dream up can be placed on your floor. If you are having fantasies of the gorgeous tile floor that you saw in Italy while on vacation, you can have a very similar look in your house. Would you like your floors to look like the wood floors in your grandmother’s house? You can have that as well.
After you have selected your design, locate a manufacturer that provides several “photos” of the same flooring. No two tiles or planks are alike in a natural floor, so you want your laminate floor to have this same effect. There more variations that are available in your chosen product design, the more likely you will be able to fool neighbours and guests!
Another factor that you should consider when selecting realistic-looking laminate flooring is to locate a product that features “embossed in register.” That means that the surface lines in the laminate follow the design of the image. If this feature is not contained in your product, it will be a dead giveaway since the surface lines of the laminate will stand out against its design.
2. Live With The Laminate
Most manufacturers allow you to buy a simple tile or plank for as low as $5 to test it out inside of your house. You can order a simple online and will often receive not only the sample but also a product catalogue and maybe even a mail-in rebate or certificate that you can use towards your final purchase. Place the samples in whatever rooms are planning to install laminate flooring in and then live with it for a while. Do the sample look good with your wall colour and furniture? Do you still like the sample as the light continues to change throughout the day?
3. Direct-Pressure vs. High-Pressure Laminate
The difference between Direct-Pressure Laminate (DPL) and High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) is the difference in the layers. Having more layers is better. That is because more layers offer better protection against the elements and your children also! Generally speaking, HPL has five layers at a minimum and DPL has just three layers. Although HPL costs more, if it is being installed in a high-traffic area, then it can definitely be worth the extra cost.
One of the major ways that you can tell whether a floor is natural or laminate is the sound that it makes when walking over it. If noise is a concern for you, then the best choice is HPL since more layers help to muffle noise. Laminate flooring is also available with sound barrier layers.
4. Installing Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is a great option for do-it-yourself people since it is fairly easy to install. There are even products you can purchase that have glue on the edges already. To activate the glue you just wet them down. You can buy an installation kit ($25 to $500) and install your own laminate floor. You can lay around 100-300 feet day, depending on the number of people working on it and the kind of product you are using.
Three Methods For Installing Laminate Floors
When deciding how to install a laminate floor, it is all about the glue that is used. There is glue laminate where glue must be applied to every piece of flooring before laying it down. Pre-glued laminate is available where you just need to moisten it before putting the pieces together. The third option is a laminate that is glue-less and uses a system where the tongues and grooves are snapped together to lock the floor in place. It takes longer to install glue laminates and you will need to wait for a longer period of time to walk on them after you have installed the flooring.
5. The Reputation of the Manufacturer
Make sure your product meets industry standards by checking to see that it carries the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) seal of approval.