Today’s best laminate products offer superior realism and represent an authentic hardwood look better than previous generations of laminate or even current LVT (luxury vinyl tile)/WPC (wood plastic composite) and ceramic tile products, according to some industry executives (FloorCovering Weekly - June 1st, 2017). And while these newer products have presented a challenge for laminate manufacturers, it has also caused them to innovate.
The biggest shift in laminate flooring over the past five years has been the trend towards premium or high-end products. Laminate today is quite different than the laminate of old. Advanced digital printing capabilities offer enhanced, realistic visuals and the embossed in register treatment provides authenticity in texture, creating a beautiful aesthetic in a wide range of designs from traditional and rustic to vintage weathered looks.
Two years ago 60 minutes ran a story featuring laminate products that Lumber Liquidators stocked that had failed to meet California formaldehyde emission standards. All of our laminate products meet the strictest standard out there which is the California Air Resource Board phase 2 compliant or its acronym CARB2.
There are many consumers who want an authentic wood look in a wood based product, but don’t have the budget or lifestyle for hardwood flooring. The fair price of laminate, its great looks, durability and its versatility as compared to other flooring options makes it an attractive pick for many types of consumers.
Laminate is cheap because it’s a largely synthetic flooring that’s easily mass produced using low cost materials. It’s easy to install because most laminate uses click and lock assembly which means no nails or glue and you can float it over most existing sub floors. And finally it’s easy to clean and care for because of the thick and clear wear layer that covers the surface of the flooring.
Laminate wood flooring is perfect in a functional setting where practicality is your priority. In a child’s playroom, in the family den or parts of the house where you have dogs running around laminate flooring just makes sense. It’s attractive, quickly cleaned and hard wearing too. In these situations solid wood flooring seems rather impractical and expensive. Also remember that solid hardwood can stain and is vulnerable to strong sunlight. If stains and extreme weather conditions are a part of your day to day life then laminate flooring is the smart choice.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that laminate floors aren’t completely waterproof. They do contain a core layer of dense fiberboard and, despite the plastic top wear layer and further protective melamine resin layer, laminate flooring will react to standing water and strong humidity in the same way as solid wood flooring. Laminate flooring for kitchens is okay as long as you keep spills to a minimum and/or clean up immediately, but you should think twice about laminate in a damp basement or in a bathroom that regularly experiences standing water. In these instances vinyl flooring would be a much smarter choice, vinyl itself is waterproof and as long as it is installed properly the chance of any water getting through to your subfloor is negligible.
Laminate flooring has become a master imitator of natural surfaces like wood, stone and other flooring types. It is easier to maintain than wood or tile. Hardwood or engineered-wood floors may need refinishing, and some tile types may need resealing or regrouting. It can be installed either professionally or by a reasonably skilled do-it-yourselfer who has the right tools and instructions. It allows for easy repairs by replacing a damaged plank or tile with a new one. It has cost and durability advantages over such other solid-surface flooring choices as hardwood, ceramic or stone. Laminate flooring has an extremely hard aluminum-oxide wear layer that resists scratches and UV protection to prevent fading from prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Laminate flooring is made of layers. The primary layer (the core) is made of high-density fiberboard (HDF) that gives laminate flooring its rigidity and strength. This same HDF core is basically wood fiber highly compressed into a core. This is the reason laminate flooring is not recommended for areas where there may be standing water such as a bathroom or a basement. Laminate flooring is a floating-floor system that should never be nailed or glued to the subfloor. Because laminate flooring is made primarily from wood, it feels like wood. Laminate flooring is highly stain-resistant and won’t be damaged by limited flame exposure, like a hot ember tossed through a fireplace screen. Laminate flooring is forgiving regarding installation over a less-than-perfect subfloor.