How To

Looking for a new laminate floor for the home? There are a lot of factors you’ll want to consider before deciding which floor to invest in. 

Written by: Yarl Christie

Laminate Flooring Buying Guide

Laminate has become one of the most popular types of floor for homeowners and businesses alike. You can choose from hundreds of different designs to provide a wood effect at a discounted price. However, before purchasing a laminate floor, there is a lot to consider.

To help you make the right choice, we have provided an excellent laminate flooring buying guide you can follow. Read on to discover everything you need to know…

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring became popular in the 1970s. Designed as a budget-friendly alternative to real wood flooring, it boasts various designs and exceptional durability.

The floors are made up of several layers. They feature a decorative top layer alongside a transparent wear layer. The decorative layer is a wood-printed image, giving the floor a strikingly realistic solid wood effect.

Laminate Flooring Buying Guide Close Up Plank

The quality of laminate flooring has improved drastically over the years. Suppose you are looking for a floor that is attractive, durable, and easy to install and maintain. In that case, laminate could be the perfect option.

The Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring

Like all floor types, laminate floors come with a range of pros and cons. Let’s start by looking at some of the key benefits of laminate flooring…

What are the Pros of Laminate Flooring?

The main advantages of laminate flooring include:

  • Available in a vast choice of designs
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Great for family homes
  • Created with impressive flooring technology

No matter what type of look you are aiming for, you’ll find a laminate floor to match it. Choose from an extensive range of designs, sizes, and brands. One of the best things about these floors is their affordability. Laminate is a much cheaper alternative to engineered or solid wood, yet it provides the same beautiful aesthetics.

You’ll find they are simple to install, thanks to their built-in click system. Just click the planks or tiles together for a speedy fit. Maintaining laminate flooring is also simple. Just give them a daily sweep or hoover to eliminate dirt and dust. You can add entrance mats to doorways to prevent dirt from being walked across the floor.

Laminate Flooring Installation

Laminate flooring is great for family homes, thanks to its durable and safe design. Many come with a scratch and water-resistant design. Look out for floors with a good slip resistance rating if you plan on installing them in high-traffic areas.

The latest laminate products are made with advanced flooring technology. They are built to last and offer striking designs packed with impressive features.

So, laminate flooring can deliver many fantastic benefits, but what about the potential disadvantages?

What are the Cons of Laminate Flooring?

There aren’t many disadvantages of laminate flooring, but the ones to be aware of include:

  • It doesn’t have the same lifespan or looks as engineered or solid wood
  • It can be noisy and hard underfoot
  • May become damaged by excess moisture

Although laminate flooring can last for over a decade with regular maintenance, it has a shorter lifespan than engineered or solid wood flooring. You can’t sand it down, and it doesn’t produce the same look as real wood. You can invest in excellent imitations, but if you want that real solid wood look, you’re going to need to invest in real wood flooring.

You’ll also find laminate flooring can be noisy and hard underfoot. However, this is easily remedied. Install the floor with a sound-absorbing underlay for a quieter, more comfortable solution. You can also look out for laminate flooring designed explicitly with noise reduction in mind.

Finally, although many laminate floors come with a waterproof design, it isn’t a standard feature. This means that most floors aren’t suitable for high-moisture environments. If they are exposed to excess moisture, it could cause them significant damage.

Laminate Flooring Buying Guide for Slip Resistant Flooring

Where Can You Install Laminate Flooring?

Thanks to the massive choice of laminate floors available, you’ll find something to suit any room. Each floor offers its own features and benefits. Here’s a quick guide to choosing the suitable laminate for each room of the home…

Lounge

When choosing a laminate floor for the lounge, you will need a product that can handle moderate to heavy foot traffic. Comfort and appearance are also important factors here. The lounge is a cosy, relaxing space. Consider installing a darker wood effect laminate to create a warm, luxurious look.

Kitchen

If you plan on installing laminate in the kitchen, you’re going to want to focus on easy maintenance. There is a high risk of spills in this area of the home, so the floor should be water-resistant. This will allow you to clean up any spills quickly, preventing long-lasting damage. It would help if you also looked for a laminate floor that offers good slip resistance. Due to the increased risk of spills, kitchen floors can quickly become slippery. We recommend aiming for a floor with an R9 to R10 slip resistance rating.

Laminate Flooring for Kitchens Buying Guide

Dining room

Most laminate floors are suitable for use in the dining room. They can easily deal with the odd spill of food or drink. You’ll also find them easy to clean if a spill should occur. Pretty much any design works well in this room.

Bathroom

Laminate floors are not naturally waterproof. Most offer excellent water resistance, but that doesn’t mean they are suitable for use in the bathroom. If you want to install laminate flooring in moisture-prone areas, you’re going to need to look for one that is 100% waterproof. Also, pay attention to the floor's slip resistance as excess moisture increases the likelihood of slips and falls.

Bedroom

The bedroom is a low-traffic environment, meaning you can install any type of flooring you want without fear of it getting damaged. You will not need to pay attention to durability, so you can choose a laminate that matches your style preferences.

Hallway

If you want to add a laminate floor to your hallway, it’s going to need to be able to handle high levels of foot traffic. The hallway is one of the most active areas of the home, which means you need a tough yet practical floor.

Understanding Laminate AC Ratings

When shopping for a laminate floor, you’ll find they advertise a specific AC rating. So, what are AC ratings, and how do they factor into your decision?

AC ratings are provided for both laminate and vinyl floors. They measure the floor’s stain, abrasion, and impact resistance. They also offer reassurance that the floors have been vigorously tested.

There are five ratings to be aware of, ranging from AC1 to AC5. Here’s what each of them means…

AC1: Floors with this rating are suitable for low traffic and domestic areas. They are not ideal for commercial use.

AC2: Laminate floors with an AC2 rating can be installed in domestic settings with moderate foot traffic, such as the lounge.

AC3: Floors with an AC3 rating are suitable for high-traffic domestic areas.

AC4: Suitable for moderate commercial areas, AC4 rated floors are great for small offices.

AC5: The highest AC rating, floors in this category can be installed in heavy traffic commercial settings such as shops and cafes.

Laminate Flooring Buying Guide for Commercial Properties

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when you’re purchasing a laminate floor. At Stories Flooring, we only stock the best laminate products. Browse our full range of laminate flooring today and use our free samples to compare them. If you have any questions or need advice on our laminate products, don’t hesitate to give our friendly team a call.