Laminate flooring is a wholly manufactured material. It is water-resistant, eco-friendly, durable and relatively easy on the pocket. The material used is often curable resin printed with a high-definition photograph of the material it mimics. Using laminates, you get the look of any material you desire, whether wood or stone, without cutting trees or mining quarries.
What to look for in Laminate Flooring
The first laminate emerged in the year 1977. Branded Pergo, it was introduced to the European market in 1984. Since then, laminates have flooded the market, many of them cheap versions that do not conform to quality norms. It is important to look for CE mark to ensure the quality of material, its recyclability and its environmental friendliness (reputable home improvement retailers like BuildDirect.com only stock quality materials). In general, a quality laminate should have these qualities.
- A protective layer resistant to pets, wheel chairs, heels, etc.
- A decorative layer which is a high definition print of the material mimicked.
- An HDF (High Density Fibreboard) core for stability, durability and impact resistance.
- A melamine layer for additional stability and water resistance.
- An under-layer to absorb imperfections on sub-floor and provide a cushion to reduce impact and noise. It may even provide moisture barrier.
Laminates are versatile
Although laminates mimic wood or stone, they have some inherent advantages. Unlike wood, they are water resistant. Also they do not have the cold feel of stone. Laminates can be effectively used in areas where wood or stone cannot be used to advantage, e.g., in bathrooms or laundry areas. A laminate surface can handle spills, scrapes and cigarette burns, too. Maintenance is easy and these are superb for people prone to allergies. Their specially engineered layered construction allows them to be installed almost anywhere, including over existing floors like concrete slabs and wooden subfloors. The low floor thickness of laminates makes them an ideal for renovation and restoration work in old houses, too.
The different types and styles of laminate
You can categorize laminates in different ways.
By installation method
Glue-less click–lock: Most laminate flooring is this variety. These materials snap together and do not use glue. They are easy to install and the process normally takes less than a day.
Glue laminates: These laminates do need adhesive to install. The process takes longer and is costlier. Rubber cement is prone to emit vapor, which can be harmful, too.
Pre-glued laminates: In these laminates, the glue is already applied to the joints and these need to be moistened before application.
By the material mimicked
Laminates allow you to select the floor you need to go with your furniture, and the general ambience. You can use a variety of laminates resembling different kinds of materials.
Smooth: You get the smooth, varnish-like finish that is usually associated with hardwood. You get to choose the level of gloss in the finish, too.
Textured: Some laminates have a textured look to mimic certain materials.
Hand Scraped: This process can give a laminate product an antique look.
You need to carefully check the guarantee on your laminate floor before buying to make sure that it meets building codes.