If you look at some of the laminate products installed today (and you will often see them used in commercial applications – a testament to durability), you will note that the beauty layer is so realistic, it may be difficult to determine that the flooring is, indeed, laminate.
Installed as a “floating” floor, in essence, installed directly over any other surface in a “click” joint tongue-and-groove assembly, laminate is very durable and resistant to stain. Better still, should problems occur, replacement of product is relatively easy. It also works very well below-grade, such as in a basement.
Another plus is that it is easy to transport. Think about the long, eight-foot or more planks of solid wood, for example can you imagine the weight and cumbersome nature of the packaging? Laminate, on the other hand, is much thinner and is typically manufactured in four-foot lengths. Boxed up and lightweight, no doubt it’s much easier to ship.
Laminate Floor Brands
Drawbacks include the “sound” it creates. While it may look like a wood floor, for example, it may not necessarily sound like a wood floor when being trod upon. It can’t be refinished or sanded and unfortunately, cheaper laminate products will show obvious seams. There is a way to alleviate the sound problem, however. Consider installing an underlayment, which will help replicate the lower decibel sound put forth by hardwood. This underlayment is installed under the laminate planks and will also help level the floor, ensuring proper installation.
Laminate consists of four layers. Starting from the top and working down, the product consists of:
– a wear layer (the protective finish)
– a decorative layer (the “photograph” of the product it is mimicking)
– a fiberboard core (which provides impact protection and stability underfoot); and finally,
– a back layer, which helps with moisture resistancy.
Each layer is important, but it is the decorative layer that most people find fascinating. Why? Because just as you could take a photograph and place it under a piece of glass – a manufacturer can do the same with laminate. While you may still associate laminate with the look of wood, you will see in ensuing photographs that tile replicas have become very popular.
New developments include wood/laminate hybrids, in which a wood veneer is used in place of the typical beauty layer, for the most realistic texturing available.