Laminate flooring is composite wood with four layers: a backing, core layer, decorative layer, and wear layer. It’s popular due to its low cost and versatile nature that mimics hardwood, stone, or tile.
Choosing the right residential laminate flooring for your home goes beyond the aesthetic appeal. Your floor’s durability, functionality, and value are worth considering when choosing a laminate brand.
Types of Laminate Flooring
High-Pressure Laminate (HPL)
High-pressure laminate features several layers of paper fused under high heat and pressure. It’s durable and resistant to wear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas.
Engineered wood flooring is a cost-effective alternative to plastic laminate. It features layers of natural wood alongside acrylic lamination. Engineered laminate is less resistant to water damage but can be sanded and refinished to restore its appearance.
Direct-pressure laminate has layers of melamine-impregnated decorative paper and a high-density fiberboard (HDF) core. It’s best for residential and light commercial use.
Waterproof laminate flooring features a water-resistant core and a protective top layer. It’s suitable for areas prone to spills or high humidity.
Top Considerations When Choosing the Best Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring ranges from $1 to $10 per square foot. The variation depends on the brand, quality, features, and location.
Needs & Preferences
A laminate with a higher AC rating offers better durability and resistance to wear and tear. Consider installing laminate floors with enhanced water resistance properties. They withstand moisture and minimize the risk of warping or damage.
Laminate flooring comes in a glueless click-lock system or glued-down method. In the click-lock system, planks are joined together without adhesive. Glued-down installation involves applying glue to the subfloor and securing the laminate planks.
Laminate flooring comprises several layers of materials fused through a lamination process. Here are the primary materials used in laminate flooring:
- Wear layer: The topmost layer features transparent melamine resin. It provides durability, scratch resistance, and protection against wear and tear.
- Decorative layer: A high-resolution image or printed design layer that mimics the appearance of natural materials.
- Core layer: The core layer is the central layer, providing stability and structural integrity. It features high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
- Backing layer: The backing layer provides stability and moisture resistance. It also helps balance the flooring and prevents it from cupping or warping.
Surface Type & Pattern
Laminate flooring offers several surface types and patterns to mimic the appearance of different materials. A smooth surface has a sleek and uniform texture without noticeable grain, knots, or texture replication.
Embossed laminate flooring features a textured surface. It replicates the grain, knots, and other natural characteristics found in wood, stone, or tile. The texture adds depth and visual interest to the flooring, giving it a more realistic look.
Laminate is available in wood grain, stone, and tile patterns. It has different widths and lengths to accommodate various design preferences and installation needs.
Narrow planks are 3 to 5 inches wide, creating a more traditional and formal look. Wide planks are 6 inches or more in width. They provide a contemporary and spacious appearance, giving the room a sense of openness.