Do you ever look through photos of gorgeous hardwood floors online and wish you could have that in your house? Is your budget screaming no to walnut floors in the living room while your heart is screaming yes? What if we told you you could get that look without having to sell off a kidney?
Laminate flooring has become a popular option in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. Laminate lets you get the look of the gorgeous hardwood floors you love for half the price. Read on to learn more about this flooring option and why people love it so much.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a material that can look like almost anything you want to, from a variety of wood species to tile and even stone. It’s become incredibly popular in homes in the last few years for a variety of reasons we’ll discuss in a moment. Contrary to popular belief, laminate is not made of solid plastic, but of four distinct layers.
At the bottom of a laminate plank, you have the backing, which is responsible for balancing the floor. Then you have the core layer, a high-density board that protects from indentations and moisture, and the design layer, which has a high-resolution photograph of the floor’s surface appearance. And on top, there’s the wear layer, a clear layer made of aluminum oxide that protects against damage and fading.
One of the biggest advantages of laminate flooring is its durability. With hardwood floors, you risk the finish wearing off or the floor getting scratched. You have to be careful about moving furniture, and you may not want to let your pets on the floor for fear of damaging it.
Laminate flooring is made of incredibly durable materials with an iron-clad finish. You can still scratch it if you drag a cast iron TV stand across it, but you won’t have to worry so much about the ottoman scuffing it every time it shifts. And pets can run all over it with no fear of damage.
Easy to Install
Installing hardwood floors is a difficult job requiring several days and at least one carpenter. You have to prepare a subfloor and make sure each piece goes in just the right place and make sure there are no gaps or squeaks. There’s a lot of precision work that has to be done perfectly or the floor won’t turn out right.
Installing laminate flooring is something you can handle yourself in a weekend. You need to lay down a moisture barrier and possible some subfloor material, but then it’s just a matter of snapping each tongue and groove piece into place. You may need to custom cut pieces at the ends and the wall, but that’s a simple enough matter, and you can “float” the floor under the baseboards, so there’s no need to nail it down.
Although hardwood floors are beautiful, they are also expensive, especially depending on what species of wood you’re using. And all that time working with a carpenter doesn’t come cheap. You’re looking at around 1,500€ to install a wood floor, depending on the size of the room and the species of the wood.
Laminate flooring is much cheaper than wood, both in materials and labor. You can expect to pay about 20€ per square meter, depending on what kind of laminate you choose. Most installations cost around 600€, about half the cost of installing a wood floor.
Compatible with Subfloor
When you’re putting in a hardwood floor, you have to have something you can nail into to hold the floor in place. This means you have to have a layer of wood subfloor beneath the actual floor planks. If you have an existing floor already in place, you may be looking at raising your floors, which can cause all sorts of problems for doors, outlets, fireplaces, and other fixtures.
With laminate flooring, you don’t have to worry as much about that. You can “float” laminate flooring over any type of subfloor, including concrete. So if you pull out carpet flooring and put down laminate, the level of your floors should stay more or less the same.
Lots of Options
One of the great advantages of using laminate flooring is it can look like almost anything you want it to. Wood laminate flooring is one of the most popular styles, and it comes in a variety of species. You can get laminate finished to look like hickory, pecan, oak, applewood, cherry, and even mahogany.
You can also get laminate flooring that looks like tile and stone. Like hardwood, tile and stone flooring installation tends to be complicated and expensive, not to mention fragile. But laminate can give you that gorgeous tile or slate look you want with much greater ease and durability.
Easy to Clean
Keeping floors clean can be a pain, depending on what kind of flooring you have. Carpet requires heavy vacuuming and shampooing at least once a year. And some tile or hardwood floors may require special attention to make sure it doesn’t get damaged.
With laminate flooring, cleaning is a breeze. You can sweep up loose dust, dirt, and pet hair without it catching in grout lines or lurking in carpets. And while it may be advisable to use a special laminate floor cleaning product, this is no more difficult than any other mopping.
For people with allergies and other sensitivities, finding the right flooring can be a big deal. Dust, dirt, pollen, and other allergens can lurk in carpets. And flooring with no underlayment can create a haven for mold and mildew.
But laminate flooring provides no safe haven for allergens. You can vacuum up pollen particles, pet hair, and other substances that may set off your allergies. And the moisture barrier you put down under the floor will keep mold and mildew from building up.
Aside from routine cleaning, many floors have to be maintained to look their best over time. Hardwood floors should be refinished every so often, and as we mentioned, carpets should be shampooed at least once a year. This maintenance can be expensive and time-consuming.
Laminate flooring is incredibly low-maintenance, almost a set-and-forget situation. You may want to trim your pets’ nails to prevent minor scratches and repair any small scuffs that may appear. But other than that, you won’t have to worry about maintaining your laminate floors.
Although hardwood floors are beautiful, they are not very environmentally friendly. In order to get floor-quality boards, you have to cut down a tall tree that has been growing straight for many years. And because hardwood floors tend to be more popular, it can take decades to replace this growth.
Laminate floors make the most of the wood they use, using recycled wood in the planks and sticking to environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. These floors can be recycled or even reused! Because they “float” unattached to a subfloor, you can take them up and take them with you if you move houses.
Life happens, and sometimes flooring gets damaged or is defective. When that happens, you want to have a solid warranty behind you. You don’t want to pay for repairs to a floor you just got done installing.
Laminate flooring companies offer some pretty amazing warranties, with the minimum period being a year. Your company may repair or replace damaged planks themselves or send them for you to manage it. Be sure to check on warranty terms from the company you use.
Another huge advantage of laminate flooring is that it’s moisture resistant. If you live somewhere humid, this can be particularly important, since floors absorb that moisture just like anything else. Summer and rainy seasons can wreak havoc on traditional hardwood floors, but laminate will expand and contract without buckling.
It should be noted, however, that laminate is not waterproof. It doesn’t do well with pools of standing water as you get in bathrooms. Tile and stone flooring are still best in those areas since they can stand up to pools of water.
It’s not something we think about very often, but we need our floors to be a little springy. Unresistant floors like tile, concrete, and stone don’t provide any give or cushion. This can make our feet hurt and be hard on our joints, especially hips and knees.
But laminate flooring provides a little bit of spring in your step – and we do mean that literally. The floors flex just enough to cushion your joints. This can make a big difference in reducing joint pain, especially in areas you stand in a lot, such as the kitchen.
High Resale Value
When you’re spending a few thousand dollars on a home improvement project, you want to know you’ll get something back out of it. When you resell the house, the changes you’re making should let you raise the price more. Laminate flooring can help raise your home’s value, depending on the situation.
If you’re replacing worn-out or irreparable flooring, putting in laminate flooring will raise the value. And even if you’re replacing carpet that’s in good shape, putting in laminate will still raise your home’s price. But hardwood is still valued more highly by homebuyers, so it’s not a good idea to replace hardwood with laminate if you can afford it.
Picking a Laminate Flooring
The first thing you want to look at when you’re picking laminate flooring is the thickness. You want a thickness that will like up with your other floors once you take out the old flooring in the room. You should also take a look at the width of the boards – do you want a large plank look or a smaller strip wood look? And the Abrasion Criteria measures how well the flooring will stand up to damage.
There are hundreds of finishes you can choose from with laminate flooring, as we discussed. But you can also pick different textures to suit your style, including hand-scraped, embossed, or high-gloss. You can even look into getting laminate that’s compatible with underfloor heating if you like.
How to Install It
Installing laminate flooring is a snap; start by preparing the area either by removing the existing flooring or sweeping and mopping it thoroughly. Then measure the width of the room you’re installing the flooring in, dividing it by the width of the planks you’re using and dividing the excess by two to determine the width of the first and last rows. Leave 10 mm of space at either side of the room for the floor to “float” under the baseboards.
Roll out your underlayment and lay your first row of boards down on one side of the room, tongue side facing the wall. Then snap the next line of boards in place, moving across the room to the opposite wall. Once all the boards are laid, including your last line, remove your 10 mm spacers at each side of the wall and reinstall the baseboards.
Get the Best Flooring for Your Home
Laminate flooring has become incredibly popular, and it’s easy to see why. It’s cheap, durable, easy to install, environmentally friendly, and beautiful. It’s one of the easiest ways to get the look you want in your home without having to break the bank or be precious with your floors for the rest of your life.
If you’d like to find the best wood laminate flooring, check out the rest of our website at Floor Experts. We have a variety of gorgeous flooring options, including parquet, laminate, vinyl, and more. Check out our laminate flooring options and get started making your space more beautiful on a budget today.