Laminate flooring is an outstanding choice to bring your home to life thanks to its durability, affordable prices, and, a wide range of references. We guarantee you won’t regret it.
Things You Should Know
Although it may seem obvious, it’s important when buying your laminate floor. You start by knowing what is laminate flooring?. Due to its general culture. And also knowing its attributes will help you decide on the best option. Above all, to be able to ask the seller correctly and bring in the right floor. This article shows you everything you need to know about laminate flooring. It contains the following:
- Types and appearance
- Features and wear
- Cleaning and maintenance
- How to choose the right flooring
Each element provides you guidelines and tips to make your perfect choice. Therefore, we recommend you read it carefully until the end. The time invested will be rewarded undoubtedly with the right decision and the right investment of your budget.
What is laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring or floating wood tiles. Knowing its manufacturing process is important when choosing your floor. Because they combine four or five lays of different materials that give them their properties.
The bottom layer (4) is the barrier against humidity. Since it’s against the sub-floor. The middle lay (3), called the inner core, is a thick board of high-density compressed wood. A third lay (2) is made of photographic paper and melanin resin. These fused lays give the floor its appearance. The top lay (1) is what gives the laminate its name, as well as its strength. Its materials are aluminum oxide and melanin.
These lays are fused to give a durable, moisture-resistant floor. In the same way, the fused photographic image layer gives you the design. That makes it similar to almost any real surface.
Abrasion class (AC) rating
Overall, the AC has 5 categories indicated with numbers from 1 to 5. The higher the class the higher the price. All sheets are tested to classify the laminate. This means you don’t have to buy the most expensive one to get the best laminate flooring.
AC5 laminate flooring is suitable for high traffic areas such as shopping centers in high traffic locations. And floors with AC1 to AC4 ratings are suitable for use in residential spaces. In other words, all classified floors pass the strength and durability tests. Therefore, they are all quality floors. Floors that don’t pass the tests don’t get any ratings. For this reason, you only need to choose the right classified floor for your space (See below. How to choose the right flooring).
Types of laminate flooring
There are two main types of laminates. They differ in the melting process of the lays and the composition of the inner core. The first type is the DPL or direct pressure laminate. Its production process fuses the 4 lays at the same time under pressure of 300-500 PSI. Melanin fuses the layers and covers them. This process gives the floor its durability and water resistance.
The second type is HPL or high-pressure laminate. The fusion of all the lays is not at the same time. In the process under pressure of 1300 PSI and by adding heat, it binds the core and the top lays together. In addition, it includes a fifth layer that provides greater durability.
DPL is the most common of the laminates. For residential use, AC1 to AC4 ratings are best. HPL is for heavy traffic and has ratings of AC5 or higher, so it’s not usually suitable for residential use.
The laminate can be installed anywhere. All you need is a flat, dry, and clean floor. The locking systems of the sheets or tiles indicate install types you can do. These include glueless click lock, sub-floor, pre-glued sub-floor, and glued tongue and groove. Below is a description:
Glueless click lock
This is the most common, quickest, and easiest form of installation. The tiles are easy to install and replace. In this type of installation, you can walk immediately after installation. Variations are in the shape of the grooves.
Underlayment for laminate flooring
Also known as glueless laminate or floating floor. It only requires the pieces to be fitted together to form the floor, because it isn’t glued to the sub-floor. The installation is with click lock and requires an underlayment called sub-floor.
This sub-floor serves to rectify the sound, as a barrier against humidity and to cushion the floor. Use it if you install the floor on concrete, cement, or tiles. If it’s on solid wood, it’s best not to install it because it doesn’t allow the wood to breathe and can create problems with your floor.
In this type of installation, the underlayment is attached to the floor. In other words, it has a lower layer that acts as a subfloor. Depending on the type and quality of the laminate, you may still need a subfloor to serve as a moisture barrier.
Tongue and groove attached
The emergence of laminate flooring occurred in the 1980s and this type of installation was the only one. However, thanks to new technologies, glueless click locks born. Despite this, this type of installation still has some advantages. By gluing each board to its partner, the floor is more water-resistant. Besides, the glue serves as a moisture base, i.e. it does not require a subfloor. The floor joints are more resistant and durable.
Install types mentioned are relevant when choosing a floor. The most common and used is the glueless click closure. Combined with the laminate floor sub-floor to offer the feeling of cushioning and hardness. However, if you are installing a solid wood surface, you may prefer the pre-glued underfloor.
Finally, to achieve the installation of your laminate, you need to know What tools do I need to install the laminate floor?. The answer and other useful tips on how to install laminate flooring.
The accessories are elements to give the final finish to your laminates. Since this floor requires a wall expansion space to fit properly. For this reason, end pieces are needed. They are mainly: moldings and transition pieces. We tell you the types and uses of each one.
They can be the same color as the floor or basic colors (usually white or brown). There are two types: quarter circle and base or wall socket. The first one is small and has the shape of a quarter cylinder. While the second one is taller and is the most common and well-known.
You may be wondering if you need transition strips for your laminate floor. I definitely do. Either to create a transition with an area of another floor that is higher or lower. Or for the beginning and end of your floating tile floor.
In either case, some T-mouldings are used to create a transition with floors of equal height. Reducing strips for transitions to lower floor heights. And threshold pieces for transitioning with carpeting and other types of flooring.
Features that make them chosen
The laminates are environmentally friendly. The reasons: they don’t use natural wood in their construction and their click system doesn’t require stains or sealants that damage the ozone layer.
Huge selection of styles and colors
The variety of laminates is unique. In laminates, you can find wood, oak, cherry, pine, stone, marble, even tiles. The realism of today’s laminate designs is amazing.
The top layer of the laminates makes them shiny, durable, and, if that is not enough, scratch-resistant. That’s why laminates are perfect for homes with children or pets.
Due to its photo design layer, it’s easy to find the color and design you are looking for. That’s why it’s important when choosing: to be demanding. The look of the floor can be wood, stone, and also marble. You can find everything from rustic wood to the most modern styles.
The Innovation in manufacturing process, particularly in the design layer, has meant that laminates can imitate almost any material. But it’s not just any imitation, in a laminate, you can see the wood grains and textures. Therefore, it’s sometimes almost impossible to distinguish between a laminate and a hardwood floor.
Another important element of laminates in terms of appearance is that all designs are unique. Even if you buy the same floor, it can be combined in different ways. Your pieces are designed to achieve this effect.
Wear and tear
In this paragraph, we’ll answer the question of how long laminate flooring lasts. You’ll want to know this before you invest. Because sellers offer you between 10 and 30 years’ warranty. Experts may offer you a lifetime guarantee. But how true is that?
Yes, the durability of laminate flooring is due to the materials it is made of. As we saw before, the layers and the fusion processes (DPL or HPL), make them durable. Therefore, the wear and tear of these floors, although it occurs, is minimal and can take many years.
Before the laminates, solid wood and ceramic were the preferred materials for houses. They lasted «forever». However, technologies have made laminates the best choice. With the same attributes of the classics at incredible prices.
You’ve probably heard that laminate floors are easy to clean and maintain. We show you how to clean your laminate flooring. And you can judge for yourself how easy it is.
To clean your laminate floor, all you have to do is sweep it, dry it, and occasionally wipe it with a damp mop. Keeping your laminate floor clean and shiny requires only small details. We recommend the use of carpets in the entranceway to keep out abrasive dirt. It is also recommended to use legs for your furniture. Especially if they are heavy. And finally, clean up spills directly.
If you follow these tips, your laminates will last and be maintained for a long time. For more details, see: How to clean your laminate flooring.
How to choose the right laminate flooring
In short, when choosing your laminate, there are a few things to consider. Style, color, price, type of installation, quality, accessories are essential. The details of each of them are detailed below:
Style and color
Style is personal. There are some things you can consider. Faux wood «goes with the territory.» Stone is a more refined style. There are also styles such as beach, yellow, gray, dark, and even black. But the choice is yours alone.
For color, consider contrasting colors. Light colors add width to space. Dark colors are ideal for intimate spaces.
As mentioned above, glue-less click locks with subfloor are the most common types. They fit all types of surfaces and have a variety of designs and colors. Glued tongue and groove install are often used in kitchens, due to they are more resistant to moisture.
If you are installing a laminate floor over solid wood, glued laminate flooring can be a great option.
The AC rating is important in laminate quality. Choose the right laminate for every space. For example:
- AC1: Low-traffic residential areas such as bedrooms.
- AC2: Areas with moderate residential traffic such as dining rooms or living rooms.
- AC3: High residential traffic areas. It’s recommended for all types of places in your home.
- AC4: Areas of high residential and commercial traffic. It’s recommended for all types of places in your home and commercial spaces.
- AC5: High traffic commercial areas. It’s not highly recommended for residential spaces. Primarily used in high traffic commercial spaces.
Finally, to choose your laminates considering that you will need accessories, ask for the transition strips of the same color and tone of your floor. As for the moldings, you can choose whether to include them in the same color or in basic colors.