Laminate Flooring Guide
What is Laminate?
Laminate flooring has a layered construction:
A) Wear layer: This easy-to-clean surface contains aluminum oxide which protects the floor from stains, fading and wear.
Look for an abrasion classification (A/C) rating of at least 3 for adequate residential use protection.
B) Image design layer: A photographic image of wood, stone, or virtually anything you can imagine.
C) Inner core layer: The core provides the floor's structural strength and stability. It is made from high-density fiberboard (HDF). The core is often impregnated with a plastic resin called melamine to increase the floor's strength, stability and resistance to moisture. Products that have high levels of melamine do not require acclimation before installation.
D) Backing layer: Found beneath the inner core, the backing is made with resin saturated paper. It creates a moisture barrier that protects the floor from warping.
All laminate floor layers are fused together using one of two processes. DPL, or direct pressure laminate, is the most common construction for residential use. HPL, or high-pressure laminate.
Laminate, is an extra-hard construction. The difference between the two relates to cost, performance and design realism. DPL is less expensive, has the same gouge resistance as HPL when objects are dropped at or below counter height, and is easier to emboss for more realistic texture. HPL is more expensive and less likely to gouge if items are dropped from above counter-top height, but is harder to emboss, so it doesn't look as realistic.
if items are dropped from above counter-top height, but is harder to emboss, so it doesn't look as realistic.
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Laminate is the ultimate copycat of the flooring universe. Its uncanny ability to visually replicate the look of wood, stone, brick and ceramic is possible due to highly detailed photography of the genuine material. So, when you look at laminate, you're looking at an image identical to the real McCoy. The image is coupled with advanced embossing that adds realistic texture to the floor surface. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish laminate from the material it is mimicking. Laminate also has an easy to clean surface that protects the floor from stains, fading or wear. Laminate's powers of impersonation allow you to get the look and feel of rare, exotic wood or expensive stone at a fraction of the cost, with no natural material drawbacks
Laminate can be used in any room of the house, below, on or above grade level . Laminate floors do have some sensitivity to excessive moisture, so if you plan on using laminate in a bathroom, you'll need to take special precautions. Back to Top
Durability & Life Expectancy
A quality laminate product is one of best flooring options in terms of durability. A quality product should last 15 to 30 years. Its good performance is due to good inner core stability and a tough wear layer. The aluminum oxide in laminate's top coat is unsurpassed for wear and stain resistance. Even though laminate stands up well to wear and tear, keep in mind that if it does scratch, it can't be resurfaced like hardwood can. Scratches can be concealed using special pencils made by the manufacturer. Chips, gouges and deep scratches can be concealed using filler sticks. If an area of the floor does become damaged, replacement can be a tricky job that's best left to a professional.
Keep in Mind:
Do not expose laminate flooring to standing puddles of water, which can permanently damage the floor.
Consider the pros and cons of DPL and HPL constructions for durability and visual authenticity when choosing your laminate floor. There is a tradeoff when one of these attributes is more important than the other.
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Laminate flooring carries different warranties that cover specific performance features. A quality product should offer the following warranty protection:
Wear, fading and staining: 20 years or more
Moisture resistance from normal household cleaners and liquid spills: 20 years or more.
Will not unlock at seams: 20 years or more.
Care & Maintenance
Easy-living laminate needs minimal care and never needs waxing. When necessary, mop using a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. Exposure to water can damage laminate flooring, so if you choose to clean with water, make sure to use a damp mop.
Keep in Mind:
Sand and grit are the main culprits in damaging the finish of a laminate floor. Practice preventative maintenance by removing dirt regularly with a vacuum that has a wand attachment, or dust mopping. Do not use brooms—they can drag the grit across the floor, creating scratches.
Chair and table leg protectors will help extend the life of your floor. Back to Top
Pros and Considerations
- Ultra Realistic Designs
- Provides the realistic look of wood, tile or stone at a lower cost.
- Long Lasting
- Extremely durable and far less apt to scratch than wood.
- DIY Friendly
- Exceptionally easy to install because interlocking pieces "float" over, rather than attach to, a subfloor.
- Easy Area-to-Area Transitions
- Easy to adjoin to other floors, due to its 7 to 10 mm (approximately 1/3") thickness.
- Child and Pet Friendly
- Superior durability for households with children or large pets
- Cannot be Refinished
- Unlike hardwood floors, laminate cannot be refinished or recoated.
- Shorter Life Expectancy than Natural Products
- Laminate's life expectancy of 15 to 30 years is on par with other types of manufactured flooring, butconsiderably less than that of genuine stone, ceramic and other natural materials.
- "Hollow" Sound if Not Installed with Correct Underlayment
- Laminate's construction and installation method can create hollow sounds when people or pets walk onthe floor. Using the correct underlayment eliminates or reduces this problem.
- Adds Less Value to Your Home than Natural Products
- Laminate does not have the same perceived value of the natural materials it mimics.
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