Laminate is one of the most popular flooring choices in North America. It comes in nearly every color and style under the sun and is durable at a wallet-friendly price. Laminate is also a hypoallergenic flooring, so it’s perfect for commercial application, or in homes with pets or kids.
Laminate is going to be less expensive than either hardwood or tile flooring, yet looks identical to the hardwood you love. This isn’t the only reason for its increased popularity. Laminate can actually be stronger and resist chips and dings more than traditional wood flooring. It is easy to maintain and won’t fade like linoleum.
I am remodeling my kitchen next month, and yes, I am going with laminate flooring. Let’s get into the details of laminate.
There are two main type of laminate flooring on the market. The first one is known as DPL, or Direct Pressure Laminate. The other is HPL, or High Pressure Laminate.
The two floors are very similar, both are created with four layers of materials. The backing and top wear layers are treated separately and then fused directly onto the core. This created a strong and durable floor. The only difference is in HPL laminate, a 5th layer is added that is extra strength. This makes it slightly more expansive, and mostly designed for commercial use.
Laminate flooring is rated on the AC (Abrasion Class) scale. Generally, the higher the AC rating, the higher the price. You want to be sure to not overpay, but not underpay either. Choose the floor with the rating that matches your needs.
- AC1 Moderate Residential. Built to withstand only light residential use. Suitable for closets or bedrooms.
- AC2 General Residential. Built for moderate foot traffic. Suitable in residential spaces that don’t see a tremendous amount of wear and tear like dining rooms or living rooms.
- AC3 Heavy Residential/Moderate Commercial. Built for all kinds of residential use including high–traffic rooms and even commercial spaces that have light traffic like offices without off-street traffic and hotel rooms.
- AC4 General Commercial. Built to withstand every kind of residential use as well as more heavily trafficked commercial spaces that have off-street traffic like offices, cafes, and boutiques.
- AC5 Heavy Commercial. Built for the busiest commercial uses and high–traffic spaces like department stores and government buildings.
Once you’ve chosen your laminate, you need a few additional pieces to install your flooring. Underlayment, thin material to go underneath the laminate, is the first step of installation. Make sure you can purchase transition pieces (such as when stairs or carpet begin), and trim that match. These pieces will need to be part of your installation to create a seamless look. Most laminate floors no longer require adhesives. The easier click lock systems now almost completely dominate the marketplace. There are several youtube videos, as well as easy instructions with whatever package you purchase.
Generally, the higher the AC rating, the easier it is to maintain and the longer it will last. You can maintain your laminate flooring with a simple cleaning. Laminate flooring doesn’t require any special finishes or polishing.
The exposure a laminate floor gets from feet, wheels, paws, furniture, spills and every other form of wear and tear will show with time. Laminates are perfect for most indoor spaces but doesn’t always react well to high humidity areas, so bathrooms and laundry rooms may wear down faster than dining areas or living space.
Keep any extra laminate, even if it is a cut piece. If you ever damage a piece, you will have an original you can swap out, and replace. I know I didn’t cover any cons to laminate. That is because I don’t know of any. It wins in all categories of price, durability, maintenance and installation!
Laminate flooring can give you the look of deep hardwood, smooth tile, or textured stone, at the fraction of the price. Whatever look you’re going for, you can find limitless varieties of laminate flooring for any room in your home.