Discover everything you need to know about laminate flooring here.Written by: Yarl Christie
Published on: June 01, 2023
What is Laminate Flooring?
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?
When it comes to flooring options, laminate flooring has gained significant popularity in recent years. Its affordability, durability, and aesthetic appeal make it a desirable choice for homeowners. In this blog post, we will explore what laminate flooring is, how it is constructed, its key features, and the benefits it offers. By the end, you'll have a clear understanding of this versatile flooring option.
Definition of Laminate Flooring: Laminate flooring is a type of synthetic flooring material designed to mimic the appearance of natural materials such as hardwood, stone, or tile. It is composed of multiple layers that are fused together under high pressure and temperature. The layers typically include a backing layer, a core layer, a decorative layer, and a wear layer.
How is Laminate Flooring Made?
Laminate flooring has become a popular choice for homeowners due to its durability, affordability, and aesthetic appeal. It offers the look of real hardwood or stone while being more budget-friendly and easier to maintain. But have you ever wondered how this versatile flooring material is made?
Below, we take you on a journey through the manufacturing process of laminate flooring, shedding light on the intricacies that go into creating this remarkable product.
- Core Layer Formation: The production of laminate flooring begins with the creation of the core layer, which forms the foundation of the flooring. High-density fiberboard (HDF) is commonly used to construct this layer. Wood fibers are combined with resin and subjected to high heat and pressure, resulting in a dense and stable material that is resistant to moisture and warping.
- Decorative Layer Printing: The decorative layer of laminate flooring is what gives it its realistic appearance. It mimics the look of various natural materials, such as hardwood, stone, or tile. This layer is created using a process called digital printing. A high-resolution image of the desired material is digitally transferred onto a thin layer of paper. The image is often repeated to create a pattern that will be replicated across multiple planks.
- Melamine Resin Application: To ensure durability and protection against wear and tear, a melamine resin overlay is applied to the decorative layer. Melamine is a tough and transparent synthetic resin that enhances the strength of the flooring. It also adds resistance to scratches, stains, and fading caused by sunlight exposure.
- Pressing and Lamination: Once the core layer, decorative layer, and melamine resin overlay are prepared, they are assembled together in a process called pressing or lamination. Multiple layers are pressed together under high pressure and temperature to create a single, unified plank. The pressure applied during this process ensures a strong bond between the layers, resulting in a stable and sturdy laminate plank.
- Cutting and Shaping: After lamination, the large sheet of laminated flooring is trimmed to the desired dimensions. Specialized cutting machines precisely cut the laminate sheets into individual planks or tiles of various sizes and shapes. The edges are also shaped during this process to create the characteristic tongue-and-groove system that allows for easy installation and a seamless fit between the planks.
- Finishing Touches: In the final stage, the laminate flooring goes through a series of quality checks to ensure that it meets the required standards. The edges are inspected for smoothness, and the planks are checked for any defects or imperfections. The flooring may also undergo additional treatments, such as embossing, to further enhance its texture and replicate the feel of natural materials.
Laminate Edge Profile Information
One thing you’ll need to decide when purchasing laminate flooring, is the type of edge profile it features. This impacts how the floor looks once it has been installed. There are two main edge profiles to choose from, including bevelled and square edge. Here, you’ll discover a brief description of each to help you make the best decision.
Bevelled edge laminate floors produce a more natural looking finish. They feature a small groove in-between the planks, hiding gaps between the boards to create a stylish, stand-out effect. You’ll notice laminate floors with this edge profile offer a more distinctive design.
Laminate floors which feature a square edge profile have more of a seamless look. This is because the planks will fit together perfectly, leaving no gap between them. This provides a blended look once the floor has been installed. If you’re looking for a more formal, flawless finish then a square edge profile is ideal.
Browse our range of laminate floors to see how bevelled edge and square edge profiles differ.
Key Features of Laminate Flooring
- Affordability: Laminate flooring is a cost-effective alternative to natural materials like hardwood or stone. It provides a similar visual appeal at a fraction of the cost.
- Durability: With its wear layer and sturdy construction, laminate flooring is highly resistant to scratches, dents, and stains. It can withstand the demands of busy households and high-traffic areas.
- Aesthetic Variety: Laminate flooring offers a wide range of designs, colors, and patterns, allowing homeowners to achieve the desired look for their spaces. Whether you prefer the warmth of hardwood or the elegance of stone, there's a laminate option to suit your style.
- Easy Installation: Laminate flooring is designed for ease of installation. Many laminate planks feature a tongue-and-groove system that allows them to fit together seamlessly. This "floating floor" installation method eliminates the need for glue or nails, making it a popular choice for DIY projects.
- Low Maintenance: Laminate flooring is relatively low-maintenance. Regular sweeping or vacuuming and occasional damp mopping using a manufacturer-approved cleaner are usually sufficient to keep it clean and looking its best.
What are the Benefits of Laminate Flooring?
- Versatility: Laminate flooring can be installed in various areas of the home, including living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms. It is suitable for both residential and commercial spaces.
- Hypoallergenic: Unlike carpets, which can harbor allergens, laminate flooring provides a hypoallergenic surface that is easier to clean and maintain. This makes it a great choice for individuals with allergies or respiratory sensitivities.
- Fade Resistance: The wear layer of laminate flooring offers excellent protection against fading due to exposure to sunlight, allowing your flooring to retain its vibrant colors for an extended period.
- Environmental Considerations: Many laminate flooring options are designed using eco-friendly materials. Additionally, laminate is a durable flooring
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 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 Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring?
While laminate flooring offers numerous advantages, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks before making a decision. Here are some of the cons associated with laminate flooring:
- Moisture Sensitivity: Laminate flooring is generally resistant to moisture, but it is not entirely waterproof. Excessive exposure to moisture can cause the planks to warp or swell. Therefore, it is not recommended for areas prone to high humidity or places like bathrooms and laundry rooms where water spills are common. However, some manufacturers offer waterproof laminate flooring options that are more suitable for these areas.
- Susceptibility to Scratches: While laminate flooring is designed to be durable, it is not as resistant to scratches and dents as other flooring materials like hardwood or tile. Sharp objects or heavy furniture can leave noticeable scratches on the surface, particularly in high-traffic areas. Using protective pads on furniture legs and taking precautions when moving heavy objects can help minimize the risk of scratches.
- Limited Repairability: Unlike hardwood flooring, which can be sanded and refinished to remove scratches and restore its appearance, laminate flooring does not offer the same level of repairability. If a plank gets severely damaged or scratched, it usually needs to be replaced entirely, which can be more challenging and expensive compared to refinishing hardwood floors.
- Sound and Feel: Laminate flooring can sometimes produce a hollow or "clicky" sound when walked upon, especially if it is not properly installed or if there is an insufficient underlayment. Additionally, the feel underfoot may be less warm and comfortable compared to materials like carpet or hardwood. However, using quality underlayment and area rugs can help mitigate these issues.
- Environmental Concerns: While laminate flooring is often considered an eco-friendly alternative to hardwood, it is important to be aware of potential environmental concerns. Laminate flooring is typically made from composite wood materials, which may contain resins and adhesives that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is advisable to choose laminate flooring with low VOC emissions and ensure proper ventilation during and after installation.
- Limited Lifespan: Although laminate flooring is durable, it generally has a shorter lifespan compared to materials like hardwood or tile. The average lifespan of laminate flooring is typically around 15-25 years, depending on the quality of the product and the level of foot traffic it receives. Regular maintenance and proper care can help prolong its lifespan.
While laminate flooring has many benefits, including affordability and aesthetic versatility, it also has some potential drawbacks to consider. Moisture sensitivity, susceptibility to scratches, limited repairability, sound and feel concerns, environmental considerations, and a relatively shorter lifespan are among the cons associated with laminate flooring. By understanding these limitations, you can make an informed decision and choose the flooring option that best suits your needs and preferences.
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.
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.
What are 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 Plank Dimensions
When selecting the right laminate for your home or office, it’s important to consider its dimensions. While its measurements aren’t going to impact the quality of the floor, they can affect its durability, as well as how the floor looks once it has been installed. Here, you’ll discover a brief overview of the laminate flooring dimensions you’ll need to be aware of.
The width of the laminate will determine how it looks visually, as well as how easy it is to install. Narrower planks can be used to add a more spacious feel to smaller rooms. You’ll also find you need to spend less time cutting them to size during installation. We stock laminate floors in a wide range of widths to suit any environment.
Just like the width, you’ll find the length of the planks largely affects how the floor looks. Longer planks would be best suited in larger rooms for example. Our laminates come in a great variety of lengths, so be sure to accurately measure your room before buying any of our laminate floors.
The thickness of our laminate floors ranges from 7mm to 14mm. Unlike the width and the length, the thickness can also impact how durable the floor is. Generally speaking, the thicker the laminate, the longer it’s going to last. If you’re installing the floor in a high-traffic area, you’ll want to make sure you choose a thicker plank.
You can browse our range of laminate flooring by top brands or alternatively call us on 01133200223 to speak with a member of our sales team to help you decide which would be best for you.
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.