There are many options on flooring you can choose from but the most popular and frequently bought is undoubtedly laminate.
There are a lot of products and informative guides available online about laminate flooring and how it compares to its peers but we struggled to find a definitive piece that explained what it is, what to look out for, how to choose the right one for the purpose and after care all on one page.
In this article we tackle these topics, so you can make a more confident informed decision if you’re looking to buy laminate flooring for your purpose.
What is Laminate Flooring
Laminate is a type of synthetic flooring that is constructed from layers fused together through a lamination process, giving it its name. It usually has a wood-like appearance with a top “photographic” layer designed to look like wood grain underneath a clear protective wear layer but it’s not limited to wood as you know CGI can visually mimic anything.
It is often easily confused with vinyl flooring, but these are constructed out of different materials – vinyl tiles are 100% plastic whereas laminate flooring is 99% wood.
Types of laminate
There are differentiating types of laminate flooring available to suit your requirements including the ways in which it can be installed, different styles, effects and finishes, its durability properties, thicknesses and features like scratch resistance and water resistance.
Laminate Styles & Effects
The huge advantage of laminate flooring is that it’s easily available in so many different styles that can fit your existing home décor, whether that’s modern and sleek or rustic and traditional. For a home that needs sophisticated and minimalism in its flooring, you can purchase laminate in a smooth or satin finish.
Natural wood is the most popular effect laminate is known for and it can be used in most home décor styles, but it best complements country and farmhouse style interiors thanks to the fact that it can be designed to almost exactly mimic real wood but with all the advantages of synthetic flooring.
Most laminate floors claim to be water-resistant which is not to be confused with water-proof. To achieve the latter, you need take extra measures like sealing the edges to walls and around water bearing appliances likes sinks, bath tubs, shower cubicles and toilet basins.
Another popular feature is scratch-resistance which doesn’t guarantee it can’t be scratched from the most common chips of stones being caught on the grip of your show sole, but it usually refers to light scratches when children are dragging or scraping their toys against the floor.
A recently and not yet common feature that is slowly coming available is the stain resistance from ink which is an advanced feature on the general drink or food stain resistance you would expect on laminate if you don’t leave it to dry for days.
Durability AC Ratings
Most people don’t realise that laminate flooring is available to purchase in different levels of durability depending on what it’s needed for. To differentiate between these, the laminate is rated on a scale called the AC rating which is a combination of the materials used, layers and its thickness.
You will generally find the thicker you go the higher the AC ratings will become but that’s not the case for all so please look out for the AC ratings to conclude whether its fit for propose.
For most homes and domestic properties, an AC rating between AC1 and AC3 should be sufficient.
AC1 is ideal for areas that have very little foot traffic, and AC2 for lightly used areas such as bedrooms and guest rooms.
For higher traffic areas that may have more wear and tear like entry halls, bathrooms and kitchens, a laminate flooring with an AC3 rating is best.
The higher levels on the scale, AC4 and AC5 are best suited for commercial properties. AC4 flooring can work well in offices where people may be moving around while wearing shoes.
AC5 is the highest level and thus is the most durable. This is perfect for areas with very heavy traffic such as department stores.
The cost of your new laminate flooring can vary hugely depending on all the above factors. The more durable types of laminate flooring tend to be more expensive, but it can depend on the amount of work that’s gone into the style.
For example, you may think that choosing a higher AC rating may work better as it will last longer in the long run, but those designed for commercial properties will most likely not fit the style you need. It’s important to balance up the different factors to see which kind of laminate flooring will best suit your needs – the most expensive one isn’t always going to be the best decision for your home, but neither is the cheapest.
One thing for sure is that Laminate flooring does not need a subfloor to be installed, but there are two different ways in which it can be put down in your home: an easy to install click system and a glued laminate.
Before you jump to your decision there are advantages to each type of laminate floor installation:
Click system simply needs to be slotted into place and can be done without the help of a professional in most cases; in contrast,
Glued laminate is more time-consuming and messy to install but it’s far stronger and if you are looking to buy a long life laminate floor which you don’t intend to change for at least a decade.
Whichever one you choose if you’re thinking of doing it yourself and it’s your first time installing laminate flooring on your own, our installation guide will be useful.
Maintenance & Care
To get the most out of your laminate flooring, it’s important to care for it as best you can. While it can be very durable, it is still prone to damage. It’s important to remember too that laminate flooring, unlike vinyl, is not entirely waterproof – it can be susceptible to warping and dampness if it’s flooded due to the layers it’s made up of. It’s recommended to use a soft broom or vacuum cleaner to remove any particle left on the surface, and any dirt can be cleaned off with a damp mop or cloth. A wet mop will likely saturate the flooring and could cause damage.
Make sure to read up on how to care for laminate to make sure that your laminate flooring will last to its potential.