Buying Tips

There are certain advantages to buying Laminate:

  • Laminate floors are an affordable way to achieve an upscale look.
  • Laminate is durable, stain resistant, fade resistant, and impact resistant.
  • Laminate is easy to install and easy to maintain.
  • Laminate is a floating floor that can often be installed over an existing floor.
  • Laminate is an interlocking system of easy snap-together pieces. This is also known as glueless.

In addition to wood designs, laminate can be made to look like other types of flooring including appealing ceramic tile and stone designs

  1. High style designs that reflects the more expensive trends in hardwood: Rustic, Exotic, Wide Plank, Hand Scraped.
  2. Beveled edges add depth.
  3. A wide choice of finishes include embossed in register which provides a more realistic grain appearance, textured finishes add character and smooth contemporary looks.
  4. Elegant tile and stone designs.

Basics

Laminate flooring was first introduced in the United States in 1996 and has been successfully sold in Europe for many years. Many people may not be familiar with the term “laminate” but do know it as Pergo, a common laminate brand name and the first company to offer it in the U.S. If you would like the look of real wood flooring but want the ease of installation, long-lasting durability, and a more affordable option, laminate is what you’re looking for.

Laminate resists dents, fading and stains, and at first glance it’s difficult to tell laminate and real hardwood flooring apart. Laminate flooring can be installed over areas that are flat and stable like tile, vinyl and sub-floor. Laminate flooring systems are floating, which means they do not fasten directly to the plywood subfloor (or any other existing floor). Instead, they use a click together interlocking system which holds the material together while allowing the subfloor below to move independently of the laminate.

Essentially, all laminates are composed of four layers:

  1. The top layer consists of a transparent scratch and stain resistant wear layer with a high taber (wear-resistance) value.
  2. Next is the design layer, a melamine resin impregnated paper, having various patterns and designs ranging from woodgrains to stone to even more imaginative and decorative type designs.
  3. Then comes the core, which is constructed of a high quality, high-density fiberboard, manufactured with a water resistant glue.
  4. Finally comes the stabilizing layer or balancing layer. This layer is also impregnated with melamine resin and is of a thickness to balance the product, thus eliminating “cupping” or “warping.”

Laminate flooring is made one of two ways: Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) and High-Pressure Laminate (HPL)

DPL is the type of laminate that is most commonly used for homes.  It offers the greatest variety of styling including embossed texturing and beveled edges.  An excellent choice for all residential applications.

HPL is manufactured in a two-step process at up to1,400 pounds-per-square-inch of pressure. This is a more expensive manufacturing process which produces a product that performs well in extreme high traffic situations.

There are many trim and style options available for laminate floors. Transition strips, end caps, stair nosings, moldings, and baseboard are available for most finishes.

Care & Maintenance

Although laminate is tough, there are still things you should do to keep it looking its best. You should clean your laminate flooring routinely, using certain guidelines.

First of all, use a damp cloth to blot up spills immediately after they happen. As with any flooring surface, do not allow liquids to stand on the floor. For those stubborn spills, such as oil, paint, makers, lipstick, ink, or tar, use acetone (nail polish remover) on a clean white cloth, then wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue.
Sweep or vacuum the floor regularly (as with hardwood and ceramic, don’t use the beater bar). This prevents accumulation of dirt and grit that can scratch or dull the finish. If you live in sandy areas, like on a beach, you may need to dust-mop or vacuum more frequently.

You should periodically clean the floor with cleaning products specifically made for laminates. Do not wash or wet mop the floor with soap, water, oil-soap detergent, or any other liquid cleaner. This could cause swelling, warping, delamination, and joint-line separation and void your warranty.

Never use steel wool, abrasive cleaners, or chemicals with a lot of ammonia or chlorine on laminate floors. Also, do not use any type of buffing or polishing machine. For pesky spots such as candle wax or chewing gum, harden the spot with ice cubes and then simply scrape them off with a plastic scraper of some kind like a spatula or credit card. Be careful not to scratch the surface while doing this. Afterward, wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

Preventative maintenance is also important with laminate flooring. For instance, use mats in high traffic areas, like an entryway, to help collect dirt, sand, grit, and other substances such as oil or asphalt. Area rugs are also a good idea for protection, but you might want to use a non-skid rug underlayment. To minimize indentations and scratches, use wide-load bearing leg bases or rollers on heavy objects like large pieces of furniture.

Try to keep the floor dry during periods of inclement weather and keep your pet’s nails trimmed to prevent scratching on your laminate floor. Do not ever try to slide heavy objects across the floor. If they’re too heavy to lift, clean the dust and grit off thoroughly then use “gliding” furniture pads underneath the object to aid in sliding it across the floor. And use a protective mat for furniture or chairs with castors.
When damage does occur, though, it can be repaired. Minor scratches or dents to a plank can be repaired using a flooring touchup or color-fill kit. It is a filler material that’s color coordinated to the color of your floor that, when used properly, is almost invisible. The repaired area will hold up to traffic and wear just like the rest of the floor. If the plank is too bad and must be replaced, usually this is not a problem. Joints can be disassembled, allowing a new piece to be put in.

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