Is laminate flooring right for your property? Well, it depends on your style, space, budget, installation, practicality, and maintenance.
Choosing the perfect flooring for your home is exhausting, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But if you’re looking for a versatile yet affordable solution, laminate might be the best choice. That’s because it’s designed to mimic traditional wooden floors, stones, or tiles, giving your space a natural look at a lower price.
We’ll discuss everything you need to know about laminate flooring to help you make an informed decision.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a wood-plastic composite material made of a top decorative layer, a middle wear-resistant layer, and a bottom core layer.
The top layer is a printed image of real wood, stone, or other natural material, while the middle layer comprises durable plastic that protects the flooring from scratches and damage. The bottom core layer consists of real wood, like plywood and fibreboard, which provides strength and stability in high-traffic spaces.
Is Laminate a Popular Choice of Flooring?
Yes, because it’s cheap and comes in different designs. It has found its way into most homes due to its scratch and stain-resistant properties, ideal for busy households with children and pets.
What Are the Different Types of Laminate Flooring?
There are two main types of laminate flooring, each with unique features.
1. Plastic Laminate Flooring
This flooring is made of synthetic material. Each plank has a bottom layer of melamine, a fibreboard centre filled with resin, and a woodgrain pattern on the top covered by a hard plastic layer.
Pros of Plastic Laminate Flooring
Installing plastic laminate flooring comes with many advantages. Here are some of them:
- Affordable: This flooring costs half the other options, like engineered wood, making it cheaper.
- Waterproof: Since plastic is moisture-resistant, it’s suitable for areas prone to spills or high humidity, like kitchens and bathrooms. Unlike engineered wood, plastic doesn’t wrap when exposed to moisture for a long time.
- Durable: Plastic is resistant to dents, scratches, and staining, making this flooring a good choice for messy rooms or if you have kids or pets.
- Design variety: The flooring has different designs, patterns, and colours, making it easier to find the style you like.
- Natural appearance: It mimics the look of natural wood, stone, or tile, giving you more options that match your interior design.
Cons of Plastic Laminate Flooring
It’s important to consider the potential drawbacks of plastic laminate flooring. Some of these include:
- Restricted repair: Unlike engineered wood, you can’t sand or refinish the flooring when it’s damaged. In cases of deep scratches or chipping, you may have to replace the affected sections.
- Environmental concerns: Since the flooring comprises synthetic materials like PVC and other plastic composites, it has environmental implications. When it comes to production, disposal, and chemical emissions, plastic is a less viable solution than wood.
- Artificial look: Although manufacturers try to make it mimic natural stone, wood, and tile, the flooring sometimes has an artificial look and feel. This makes it less authentic than any natural material.
2. Engineered Wood Laminate
This flooring uses layers of real wood with acrylic lamination to make it look natural.
Pros of Engineered Wood Laminate
Engineered wood laminate is a popular choice for homeowners due to several reasons. Consider the following benefits:
- Authentic look: This flooring captures the natural beauty and warmth of real wood. It has a top layer of wood veneer, giving it an authentic appearance in any space.
- Eco-friendly: Engineered wood uses sustainable wood veneers, making it a more eco-friendly option than plastic.
- Refinishing potential: While it may not last as long as solid hardwood, you can still sand and refinish engineered wood to make it look brand new. This lets you extend its lifespan and maintain its value.
- Wide range of styles: With this flooring option, you can choose different wood species, colours, finishes, and plank sizes. Such variety allows you to pick a style that complements your interior design.
- Easy maintenance: Maintaining engineered wood is easy. All you have to do to keep it clean is sweep, vacuum, and sometimes damp mop the floor.
Cons of Engineered Wood Laminate
Before installing engineered wood laminate, consider these limitations:
- Costly: This flooring is more expensive than plastic. The cost varies depending on the veneer’s quality, the core layers’ build, and the manufacturer.
- Limited lifespan: Although you can sand and refinish the material for repairs, it still has a shorter lifespan than solid hardwood. Plus, the thickness of the veneer determines how many times you can refinish it.
- Susceptible to moisture: Even though it’s more moisture-resistant than solid hardwood, it’s still susceptible to water damage. If you allow spills to sit on it for a long time and expose it to high humidity, the material will wrap, swell, or delaminate.
What Are the Uses of Laminate Flooring?
Laminate is a popular flooring option known for being affordable and easy to maintain. And since it can withstand wear and tear from heavy traffic, it’s suitable for different settings.
Consider the following applications of laminate flooring in residential and commercial establishments:
Residential Laminate Flooring
This type of flooring has a decorative layer, a wear layer, and a core layer. It’s an ideal choice for homes because it’s durable, cheap, and easy to clean. This is especially important if you have children or pets.
Here are some uses of residential laminate flooring:
- Living rooms: It’s a great flooring because it can endure the heavy foot traffic common in this area. It’s also available in different styles and colours, so you can pick the best one to match your decor.
- Dining rooms: These rooms are prone to spills and messes, and laminate floors can handle the stains. You can easily sweep, vacuum, or spot-clean them with a damp cloth.
- Kitchens: Laminate floors are moisture-resistant, making them suitable for the frequent spills and messes in kitchens. They’re also designed to mimic hardwood, tile, or stone, allowing you to find the best look that matches your interior.
- Bedrooms: Unlike materials like stone, laminate floors are comfortable to walk on, making them one of the best bedroom options.
- Hallways: Hallways get a lot of foot traffic, and you need strong flooring like laminate to withstand the constant wear and tear.
Commercial Laminate Flooring
This laminate flooring is designated for commercial settings like offices and restaurants. It’s made with thicker wear layers and cores than residential laminate flooring because commercial spaces have more foot traffic than homes.
Check out these common uses of commercial laminate flooring:
- Offices: Offices should always look professional, and laminate flooring is designed to mimic wood, tile, and stone. This allows you to select the best type that looks good to every client.
- Hospitals: Spills, dirt, germs, and bacteria are common invaders of hospitals. Laminate flooring is easy to clean and resistant to germs and bacteria, making it suitable for these medical facilities.
- Restaurants: Every customer wants to dine in a clean and beautiful establishment. Installing laminate floors makes cleaning easier and lets you choose the style that attracts customers.
- Retail stores: There’s a lot of manual and machine labour in retail stores that puts pressure on the floors. Laminate flooring can withstand wear and tear caused by such heavy foot traffic.
- Hotels: To keep clients happy and satisfied, hotels can install laminate flooring since they’re easy to maintain and come in different colours and styles.
What Are the Pros of Laminate Flooring?
Laminated flooring has several attractive benefits. Here are some of them:
- Durable: The material has a hard external layer and resin coating, making it resistant to scratches, impacts, and general wear and tear from daily use. Whether you have kids or heavy office equipment, it’s reliable and lasts longer than carpet or vinyl flooring.
- Economical: The flooring is a cheaper option because it’s made of composite wood pressed together at extreme temperatures. This makes it more affordable than natural timber, which is quite expensive, particularly if it comes from exotic trees.
- Simple maintenance: Since it has a high stain and moisture-resistant surface, you can wipe away spills and marks with a soft cloth or sweep/vacuum out dirt and dust. The surface also doesn’t need waxing or varnishing to keep it looking fresh.
- Easy installation: It’s easy to install, even as a DIY project. The flooring has a simple lock-together system that saves you a lot of time.
- Natural appeal: It’s difficult to distinguish between laminate and natural timber because the flooring looks like natural wood.
What Are the Cons of Laminate Flooring?
Despite its advantages, laminate flooring also has limitations. Here are some of the drawbacks:
- Limited repairs: If scratches, stains, or any other damages persist on your flooring, you can’t refinish or sand it down to remove them. Instead, you’ll have to replace the affected planks, which is time-consuming and costly.
- Susceptible to moisture: Since it’s made of wood, the flooring isn’t impervious to moisture or its effects. This makes it unsuitable for bathrooms and laundries, where there’s a lot of saturation.
- Noisy: If the flooring isn’t installed correctly, it makes hollow sounds and echoes under heavy foot traffic.
What Are the Different Styles and Effects of Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a versatile option that comes in various colours, finishes, and patterns. With so many options available, you can find the perfect match for your decor and preferences.
What Colours Does Laminate Flooring Come In?
You can get laminate boards in multiple colours. Check them out:
- Light colours: White, beige, light grey, light brown
- Medium colours: Natural oak, maple, cherry, walnut
- Dark colours: Dark oak, mahogany, espresso, black
- Bold colours: Red, blue, green, yellow
- Metallic colours: Silver, gold, bronze
What Finishes Does Laminate Flooring Come In?
Laminate flooring comes in different finishings to meet the aesthetics and function of different settings. Consider the following examples:
- Smooth finish
- Embossed finish
- Hand-scraped finish
- Varnished finish
- Matte finish
What Patterns Does Laminate Flooring Come In?
Laminate flooring can look like different materials, from wood to stone. Here are some common patterns:
- Wood grain patterns
- Tile patterns
- Stone patterns
- Geometric patterns
What Is the Best Laminate Flooring?
The best laminate flooring depends on your needs, preferences, and the room conditions you want it installed. Consider these factors when deciding:
- Traffic level: If the area is high-traffic, you should choose a more durable flooring with a thicker wear layer and high-density core.
- The style of your decor: Choose laminate flooring that will complement your home’s style and improve its aesthetics.
- Cost of installation: Although laminate flooring is affordable, installation costs vary depending on your choices and the size of the covered area.
- Price: There are many different types of laminate floors with varying prices. You should think about your budget and how much you’re willing to spend on your new flooring.
- Ease of installation: Laminate flooring is usually easy to install. If you’re handy, you can do it yourself. But if you’re uncomfortable with DIY projects, you should hire a professional.
What Are the Different Brands of Laminate Flooring?
There are many different brands that produce laminate flooring in a wide range of styles, finishes, and prices. Here are some of the most popular ones:
How Much Does Laminate Flooring Cost?
Laminate flooring costs range from £15 to £80 per square metre.
The type of flooring you pick influences its cost because higher-quality options are more expensive. The laminate’s thickness also affects the cost since thicker laminates are more durable, making them more expensive.
Can You Buy Cheap Laminate Flooring?
Yes. Since they’re made of recycled materials, which cost less than new ones, the cost ranges from £1.50 to £4 per square metre. The price varies depending on the type of laminate wood flooring and the brand supplying it.
Can You Buy Expensive Laminate Flooring?
Yes, and these range from £25 to £65 per square metre. It has thicker wear and more durable decorative layers, making it more resistant to scratches, dents, and fading. It also has a more realistic appearance and comes with unique features like textured finishes and anti-slip coatings.
How Much Does Laminate Flooring Cost to Fit?
Installing laminate flooring ranges from £10 to £20 per square metre. This includes labour and materials like the underlay but can change depending on the size of the area and the type of laminate you pick.
It will cost you more to install laminate in a large room and even more if you use high-quality material.
Does Laminate Flooring Increase or Decrease the Value of Your Property?
Laminate flooring increases the value of your property if you use high-quality material that looks more realistic and lasts longer or if your previous flooring was old, damaged, and outdated.
How Do You Install Laminate Flooring?
Installing laminate boards is so easy that anyone, experienced or not, can do it. Follow these steps to get started:
- Acclimate your laminate flooring: Let the boards sit in the room for at least 48 hours so they can adjust to the humidity and temperature. This will prevent them from shrinking or swelling after installation.
- Prepare the subfloor: Clean and dry your floor and ensure it’s levelled. If you notice any cracks or holes, fill them with wood putty to prevent issues during installation.
- Install your underlayment: The underlayment goes between the subfloor and laminate planks, providing stability in high-traffic areas and reducing noise and vibration.
- Lay out your planks: Use a mitre saw to cut the boards so they fit around doorways and other obstacles. You should ensure the boards lock together to prevent gaps that grow bigger over time.
- Enjoy your new flooring: When you finish fitting your laminate flooring, you can bring in furniture and enjoy the new look.
What Are the Different Ways to Install Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl is a durable, affordable, easy-to-maintain flooring option that you can install in different ways. However, the specific method depends on the type of flooring you buy, the condition of your subfloor, and your budget.
Here are the various ways to install these floors:
- Glue-down installation: This is the most common installation method, where the vinyl planks are glued directly to the subfloor.
- Interlocking installation: This method uses a click-together system where the planks snap together without glue.
- Loose lay installation: This method doesn’t need glue or a locking mechanism but uses friction from the backing of the planks to keep the boards in place.
- Sheet vinyl installation: The vinyl flooring is installed as a single sheet and is mainly used for commercial settings.
- Mortar installation: This method is similar to glue-down but uses mortar to adhere the planks to the subfloor.
Do You Need Underlay With Laminate Flooring?
Yes, you’ll need a waterproof underlay to protect your floor from damage and reduce noise.
Laminate is a “floating floor,” meaning the planks lock together but aren’t nailed or glued. The underlayment protects your floors from water damage and allows efficient air circulation to prevent mould and bacteria growth.
Do You Need a Professional to Install Laminate Flooring, or Can You DIY?
No, you don’t need professional help when it comes to installing laminated flooring in your home. Unlike installing ceramic tiles, which need grout, mortar, and adhesives, laminate flooring installation is dry. It doesn’t need glue, and the planks can be sized with a hand saw, making it easy for beginners.
However, hiring a professional can make a big difference in how your laminate turns out because DIY projects are prone to mistakes. Flooring experts have the right experience and can get the job done fast and efficiently.
How Do You Maintain Laminate Flooring?
One of the best features of laminate is that it needs less maintenance than other flooring options. Still, you should practice the basic care routine to ensure they outlive their life expectancy.
Follow these steps to keep your floors looking good for longer:
- Clean the floors often: You can vacuum or sweep your floors to prevent the build-up of dirt and dust.
- Place doormats at entrances: Use doormats to stop people from tracking dirt and debris into your home or office.
- Use floor protectors to prevent scratches: Place pads or soft castors under table legs and chairs to prevent wear and tear.
- Avoid corrosive laminate floor cleaners: Harsh scouring tools and cleaning detergents can corrode the flooring’s top protective layer.
- Clean up spills fast: Avoid standing puddles of spills because they cause the boards to swell, peel, and bubble.
- Don’t drag furniture across the floor: Dragging or sliding furniture across laminate flooring creates scratches and dents that need costly repairs.
How Do You Clean Laminate Flooring?
Laminate is a durable and stain-resistant material, making it easy to clean on a regular basis. The following steps will help you clean your floors the right way:
- Sweep or vacuum your floors: This will remove dirt, dust, and debris that scratch the floor surface.
- Use a damp mop: This will reach dirt and spots that a broom might miss. Avoid a wet mop, as it can damage the laminate.
- Wipe any spills immediately: Even small spills can damage your floors if you ignore them.
- Dry the floors after cleaning: Use a dry mop or microfibre cloth to dry and clean the floors so they don’t warp or buckle.
Can Laminate Flooring Be Repaired?
Yes, damaged laminate flooring can be repaired to some extent. You can fix small scratches, cracks, and chipping using the right colour-matching repair kit. But when it comes to water-damaged boards, you should replace the whole plank.
How Long Does Laminate Flooring Last?
Life expectancy depends on the material quality, installation, maintenance, and how much wear and tear it receives.
The average lifespan of laminate flooring is 15-25 years. High-quality laminate flooring, when installed correctly, can last up to 30 years.
How Efficient Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is an efficient option because it’s affordable and practical.
Since it comes at a low cost, requires less maintenance, and has versatile design options, it meets the long-term needs of many homeowners on a budget. You can have a flooring solution that looks luxurious and natural while contributing to eco-conscious building practices.
Is Laminate Flooring Eco-Friendly?
Yes, because laminate is recyclable and made with repurposed natural resources like pre-consumer waste from timber mills.
Instead of throwing away wood chips and sawdust, manufacturers use them alongside a water-based binder, melamine resin, to create unique flooring options. This helps them achieve United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) standards for commercial and residential properties.
Is Laminate Flooring Good?
Yes. Laminate flooring is a good choice if you want a quick and affordable upgrade for your floors without worrying about its real estate value in the long run. It’s also ideal for homeowners who don’t care about superior luxury or want a DIY installation approach.
Is Laminate Flooring Good for Pets?
Yes, because it’s water-resistant and easy to clean. Unlike carpets and solid hardwood options, you don’t have to spend hours scrubbing muddy paws off the floors. Instead, you can wipe them clean with a cloth within minutes.
Is Laminate Flooring Good for Kids?
Yes, because, like wood, it’s hypoallergenic. Dirt, dust, pollen, and animal fur can’t penetrate the tight seal of these floors, making them suitable for kids with allergies. It’s also scratch and stain resistant, which are the perfect flooring properties for a child’s bedroom or playroom.
Is Laminate Flooring Good for High Traffic Areas?
Yes, because of its excellent build and a top wear layer that provides stability and functionality. And since it’s scratch resistant, it can withstand the impact of high heels in the office and of children’s activities in school hallways.
Is Laminate Flooring Good for Wet Environments?
No. Since the inner core is made of wood or fibreboard, which is susceptible to water damage, the flooring isn’t suitable for bathrooms, laundries, and other rooms with high humidity. The flooring isn’t made to hold large amounts of moisture for a long time.
Is Laminate Flooring Waterproof?
No. Like hardwood, it doesn’t do well with standing water and high humidity. Although the water-resistant properties allow it to hold spills for a limited time, you have to wipe them off immediately to prevent water damage.
In your quest for the best flooring solution, pick a versatile, durable, quality option. This way, your floor won’t clash with your interior design, making the whole room unappealing and costing you more to remodel.
It’s important to consider factors like style, installation, practicality, maintenance, and budget to ensure you get your money’s worth of a beautiful and functional floor. While you can admire the many benefits of laminate, don’t disregard its drawbacks.
Contact us if you have more questions about choosing the right flooring solution or want to adopt laminate for your next project.