Many modern interior designers prefer wood, tile, or stone floors instead of carpet, and selecting the best laminate flooring has become increasingly important. These materials provide a clean, polished look that resists the worn appearance some carpets develop after a year or two. While hardwood, tile, or stone floors are great looking and long lasting, the installation can be complicated and the materials can be expensive. For many homeowners, a better option may be laminate flooring. It comes in a variety of patterns and finishes, is reasonably priced, has great durability, and it can be easily installed as a do-it-yourself project. Let’s take a look at how to select the top laminate floor for your application.
Modern laminate flooring is comparable in looks to real hardwood flooring, but the best laminate flooring is actually more durable, environmentally friendlier, and easier to install. Each plank is made up of several layers of material bonded together to form an extremely strong dent- and scratch-resistant floor covering. It gives the appearance of wood or tile, but it actually contains a very effective moisture resistant layer bonded to high density fiber board that is covered with a high resolution photographic image of real wood like oak or other material. In higher-end laminate brands, the top layer is an extremely hard resin coating that both protects the natural wood look and provides excellent resistance to burn marks, scratches, stains, dents, and fading.
Advantages of Laminate Floors
Another advantage of selecting the laminate flooring over natural wood floors is ease of installation. A laminate floor is installed as floating planks with underlying padding to cut down on noise and provide a slightly cushioned feeling. The flexibility of laminate flooring allows installation over a variety of surfaces, including concrete slab, plywood, or vinyl flooring. Laminate flooring is produced in planks with tongue and groove fittings on all four sides. With the best laminates, these planks are relatively easy to snap together and install. Some manufacturers require glue to be applied or have factory applied glue that has to be dampened as the planks are installed. Many of the newest floors, however, require no adhesive.
Some of the best known names include Pergo, Armstrong, Mohawk, DuPont, Shaw, Alloc, and Witex. These and many other companies offer excellent options in laminate flooring with a variety of finishes including wood, stone, and tile designs.
What to Look For In the Best Laminate Flooring: The AC Rating
Laminate flooring is typically issued an “AC” rating from AC1 to AC5. AC1 is only recommended for low traffic residential areas such as a bedroom. AC5-rated floors are considered the best for high traffic commercial areas. Most residential consumers choose AC3 for higher traffic areas to ensure a long lasting attractive finish. Quality laminate flooring with a ten-year warranty ranges from $2 to $3 per square foot and can be purchased from several well-known companies. Better quality flooring with a 30 year to lifetime warranty can be about $4 to $6 per square foot. The price varies based on the finish, thickness of the planks (8mm being the norm), and the warranty offered. Laminate flooring is usually not recommended for use in kitchens and bathrooms unless you use special waterproof glue on the joints.
Laminate floors are a great choice for many homeowners. It looks great and is affordable and easy to install. It comes in a variety of wood, tile, and stone finishes that can provide an attractive floor that resists wear and tear. When shopping for the best laminate flooring, be sure to select laminate floors with the appropriate durability rating for installation, choose a manufacturer with a good warranty and a long track record, and take into account any special considerations such as high-moisture areas.