The Commonwealth Blog

Monday, December 3, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring was introduced to markets in the 1970s, providing a cost-effective alternative to traditional wood flooring. Due to its durability and affordability, laminate flooring quickly became a popular choice among homeowners remodeling kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms alike. While the quality and appearance of laminate flooring continue to improve, natural wood flooring remains a popular choice. Consider these factors when deciding on a new flooring scheme before the installation begins.

There Are Many Options 

Unlike natural wood, laminate flooring is comprised of several synthetic layers. A core layer rests beneath an image layer containing a digitally enhanced photo of a natural material. It can be designed to mimic exotic hardwoods, concrete, and natural stone and comes in many colors, lengths, widths, and textures. The result is flooring that’s tailored to your unique taste.

You Decide on its Durability

Laminate manufacturers will have an AC (abrasion criteria) rating assigned to each floor, allowing you to decide on its durability in relation to foot-traffic levels. Higher AC ratings are more resilient, while lower AC ratings are less tolerant to external forces. Common AC ratings are as follows:

  • AC1 – moderate residential use (bedrooms & closets)
  • AC2 – general residential use (living rooms & kitchens)
  • AC3 – moderate commercial traffic & heavy residential use
  • AC4 – general commercial traffic
  • AC5 – heavy commercial applications

It’s important to consider the placement of laminate flooring to determine if will see light, moderate, or heavy use. After all, you want to install a floor that’s attractive and stylish but long lasting too.

Laminate Flooring Is Easy to Install and Take Care Of

Laminate flooring is easy to install – a common reason DIYers prefer to work with this material compared to traditional wooden pieces. Instead of being glued to the subfloors, laminate flooring connects to adjacent pieces using with snap-and-lock or tongue-and-groove joinery. No glue is involved in the process, only a bit of effort by handy homeowners.  

It’s also quite easy to take care of. Simply sweep or vacuum and mop lightly. Too much water can warp or stain laminate floors, so be careful when applying cleaning solutions. Commercial laminate cleaners and acetone-based solutions more aggressively combat tough stains from heavy use.

But be careful. Laminate’s synthetic material and piece-by-piece installation process leaves room for damage and wear. Laminate wood is particularly prone to damage during the installation process if not done correctly. The edges of planks can easily become damaged, making the wood susceptible to water seepage. In addition, laminate flooring can’t be refinished like natural wood because its top image layer can’t be sanded down.

Deciding Between Laminate and Natural Woods

Laminate is an excellent option for attractive flooring that’s also affordable (it can run about half the price of natural wood flooring). It can be designed to mimic a variety of materials, due to digitalized technologies that comprise its top layers. It’s easy to see why homeowners choose laminate flooring for their DIY projects. However, natural wood is still worth considering if you’re aiming for longevity. Wooden floors can be sanded down and refinished after years of foot traffic. So, if you’re looking for a floor that lasts through generations and grows with the house, consider installing a wooden floor. If laminate’s your final choice, you’ll get a floor that looks just like wood – and for half the price. 

  


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