What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring was introduced to the residential flooring community decades ago. It remained unpopular for a long time since this flooring did not seem attractive to property owners. However, thanks to rapid advances in its technology, Laminate flooring has become more appealing to the owners through significant changes in appearance, resistance, and installation mechanisms. The innovations in laminate flooring include sharper high-definition imaging, deeper embossing, and better seaming mechanisms.
Above everything, Laminate flooring imitates hardwood flooring pretty well without the price tag. It requires minimal maintenance and cleaning, making it a perfect choice for your everyday life. New printing techniques, authentic textures, micro bevels, simulated knots, grains, and veins are the main improvements that enable Laminate flooring to mimic Wood flooring ultra-realistically.
All said, no flooring is perfect. Like every other floor covering, Laminate flooring possesses both advantages and disadvantages. If you are planning to lay a new floor covering, whether, in your home or commercial space, you should make important considerations such as choosing textures, styles, colors, grains, and plank sizes besides knowing underlay requirements. Read on for more insights on Laminate flooring pros & cons, and how to choose the right one for your project.
What is Laminate Flooring made of?
The experience of buying a product without a good understanding might seem awkward. Having information about the manufacturing process will help you to buy smarter. Therefore, in this part, we will discuss how laminate flooring is made, and what it is made of.
Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic product in which layers are fused together through a process called lamination. Lamination is a manufacturing process in which a material is made from multiple layers in a way that the composite achieves improved properties such as strength, stability, appearance, or sound insulation. Laminate planks are made of several layers of different materials to form a firm, durable, and beautiful product. Each layer in a Laminate plank serves a distinct objective.
Also called the wear layer, this layer protects the flooring against scratches and heat. It is made of a strong and stable material, which is usually Aluminum Oxide. In addition, the protective layer provides the finish of the Laminate plank, giving it a matte or shiny appearance.
The pattern layer forms the texture of the laminate flooring. It is the second from the protective upper layer and contains the design and texture of the laminate. High definition images are photographically printed utilizing the most novel printing techniques and highest quality ink. Then, the printed-paper is fused with resin and joined to the third layer of laminate.
Also known as the substrate layer, the core layer helps to prevent dents and retain the structure of laminate flooring. It is composed of fiberboard, where the density of fiberboard ranges in different manufacturers. In high-density fiberboard, wood chips are used while wood waste is the main material in medium-density fiberboard. The process is done by mixing the materials with wax and resin, then making them into panels under intense pressure and heat.
The bottom layer, which is called the back layer, is the base of laminate and provides the stability and support for the flooring. In addition to strengthening and preventing warping, the back layer prevents moisture entry to protect the flooring from water-related damage. It is made of either plastic or melamine.
Laminate Flooring Pros
First, we will discuss the advantages of laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring is best known for its cost-effectiveness. Made mostly from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures, laminate is significantly more affordable than natural wood flooring. Although laminate flooring prices start at $1 per square foot, the low-end price tags equally indicate low quality. It is advisable that you look into moderately priced laminate.
Durability and Extreme Resilience
While the core layer of laminate flooring is hardwearing, the protective layer provides additional resistance to scratches, moisture, and heat. The top coating is made of tough material, which is strong enough to resist everyday wear, including high foot traffic and pet scratches. In addition, it is able to resist water spills, does not give in to heat damage, and the color is less likely to fade against direct sunlight.
Various Styles and Natural Look
Advances in laminate flooring technology have improved the range and quality of designs to be created. Modern printing techniques along with high-quality ink have enabled laminate floorings to look almost natural. Nowadays, laminate floors come in a wide range of styles and textures, being able to replicate natural wood, stone, or tile.
Laminate flooring offers a much more comfortable walking surface than hard, cold floors like stone or tiles. Your bare feet would feel less pressure, and there isn’t any unpleasant cold feeling.
Featuring an interlocking install system, laminate installation is straightforward. The installation does not require exceptional skills, and it could be installed over an existing floor. Even though most types are DIY, hiring someone to install will not cost you much either since no high level of expertise is required and not much labor is involved.
Laminate flooring is easily cleaned and maintained. All it takes is sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping without the need for any special cleaning products, waxes, polishes, or equipment. Since laminate flooring is not waterproof, wet mopping is ruled out and damp mopping is the only option.
Laminate Flooring Cons
After discussing laminate flooring pros, it is now time to check out the cons of this type of flooring.
Cannot Be Refinished
Unlike timber flooring, laminate flooring cannot be refinished to renew its appearance over the years. Once, the surface is damaged, there isn’t any option other than replacing the damaged plank. Although minor damages can be repaired, you will have to remove it for a new one eventually.
Cannot Withstand Moisture
Laminate is not a moisture-proof flooring option, which makes its use limited. Moisture and humidity could quickly damage your laminate. Moisture makes the floor warped and look old. Therefore, laminate is not a suitable flooring option for bathrooms and should be used with caution in kitchens and laundries. Besides, liquid spills must quickly be mopped from the surface of laminate.
May Contain Toxic Chemicals
Some laminate floors contain toxic chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The VOCs are used in the manufacturing process and could be a health risk. These chemicals release toxic fumes, which can cause allergic reactions in some people who have a history of allergen-induced complications such as asthma.
It should be noted that not all laminate floors contain VOCs. However, the ones with low levels of VOCs will not cause allergic complications, look for the laminate that does not contain any VOCs at all. A NALFA seal is an indicator that shows no VOCs are present in the product.
Laminate is not categorized as biodegradable, which means it will not break down by itself when thrown away. The only way to break down laminate is recycling, and just some companies have found ways to do so. If your flooring is made out of recycled laminate, it will be greener. A NALFA seal on the laminate brand indicates that it was made from green materials.
Doesn’t Increase Home Value
Laminate flooring does not affect the value of your property. This case will not be an issue if you are planning for permanent residence. However, if you are willing to sell and move from your home, this type of flooring may not be the best choice for you.
The Hollow Sound
Some people find the hollow sound produced by laminate flooring annoying. Although laminate is not particularly as noisy as hardwood, the sound might be evident in a silent place such as library rooms. However, in rooms with a variety of noises, the hollow-sounding may fade out.
The Unnatural Look
Even with the highest technologies, laminate only mimics hardwood, stone, or tile. The difference might not be easily visible, but it would be revealed with a closer look. Although high-end laminates may look more like natural, less expensive ones might illustrate a glaring expose of synthetic design.
To sum up, laminate is a cost-effective option for your flooring needs. It offers a variety of styles and textures to choose from, giving you a wide range of possibilities for your property design. It is easily installed, even providing a DIY approach. However, there are safety and quality considerations that require adequate information.