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A Buyer’s Guide to Laminate Flooring (7 Factors to Consider)

Do you want wood’s look and feel without overspending or compromising on quality? Then laminate flooring is a great idea. Known for its versatility and durability, it requires a fraction of the upkeep of other flooring materials.

But you can only enjoy these benefits when you choose the right kind for your space.

If laminate interests you but you’re unsure whether it’s right for your home, this short buyer’s guide covers the important factors you should consider before investing.

A Buyer’s Guide to Laminate Flooring

Read about some important points to consider before purchasing laminate flooring for your home.

1. Types

Flooring Types

There are primarily two different types of laminate flooring suitable for homes.

  • Laminate Planks

Laminate planks offer the appearance of natural wood without its price point. You can purchase planks with natural wood finishes (like pine and oak), and each plank only weighs a few pounds.

You can also purchase options made using PVC and UV-curing that offer a sturdy wear layer. Furthermore, these types don’t require an underlayment, which helps simplify the overall installation. They are a stain-resistant, hygienic, and attractive option for homes, and can be installed in virtually any room.

  • Laminate Tiles

Laminate tiles are highly durable and easy to install as they don’t require any special tools or glue. All installers need to do is align the tiles and click them together. This also gives homeowners the freedom to expand or remove the flooring as they see fit.

You can find peel-and-stick laminate tiles that stick tightly to the subfloor, allowing you to install them over a hard flat surface.

Additionally, laminate can mimic other materials so is available in realistic wood and stone varieties. This gives you the flexibility to design your space as you want.

2. Manufacturing

Flooring Manufacturing

Laminate flooring planks are made in different layers, with each having its own function. They typically consist of a backing that blocks moisture from reaching the subfloor and offers stability. Next is the core which is typically made using high-density fibreboard that offers superior durability. After this is the top layer which contains the flooring print or pattern. Finally, the wear layer protects the floor against staining, dents, and scratches.

3. Hygiene

Flooring Hygiene

Laminate only needs to be swept and mopped to get rid of dust and dirt. You may occasionally use mild detergent and water to get rid of stubborn stains and marks. This makes it a great material for allergy sufferers as it’s easily cleaned to keep allergens away.

4. Eco-Friendly

Eco-Friendly - Copy

Since laminate is made from wood, it’s completely recyclable once it has reached the end of its lifespan; it can also be reused.

So, if you want to change your flooring, you can easily uninstall and reinstall it without much hassle. Moreover, many laminate manufacturers are incorporating environmentally-friendly practices to reduce the negative impact on the environment of creating laminate. Hence, you can find laminate planks made from recycled wood that reduce the amount of waste produced when replacing your flooring.

5. AC Rating

AC-Rating - Copy

The AC rating (or Abrasion Criteria) represents your floor’s ability to resist wear on a scale of 1 to 5. (The higher the AC rating, the higher its durability. Typically, AC 3 and AC 4 are used for residential applications. Here are the different ratings to help you understand them better.

  • AC 1: designed for areas that receive light foot traffic, like bedrooms
  • AC 2: suitable for areas experiencing medium foot traffic
  • AC 3: appropriate for residential applications with medium and high foot traffic, such as kitchens and foyers
  • AC 4: designed for residential areas with heavy foot traffic, like living rooms; can also withstand commercial wear
  • AC 5: created to withstand very high foot traffic, such as what commercial spaces experience

6. Underfloor Heating

Underfloor-Heating

When it comes to underfloor heating, not all laminates work well, so you need to look for options that are compatible with laminate to enjoy all its benefits.

Typically, homeowners need to embed mesh in a self-leveller or thin-set before installing laminate planks. Your best bet off reading the manufacturer’s instructions and product specifications before proceeding.

7. Maintenance

Maintenance

Here are a few maintenance tips you should follow when taking care of your laminate flooring to ensure it lasts.

  • Only use commercial cleaners specifically designed for laminate flooring.
  • Be careful when using water as too much can cause damage.
  • Dust, sweep, and mop at least once a week to prevent scratches.
  • Avoid jet mops and steam cleaners, which damage the finish.
  • If you have cats or dogs, trim their nails to minimize scratches.
  • Use furniture pads to prevent dents from heavy furniture. For added safety, replace plastic pads and casters with rubber or felt tips.
  • Don’t slide heavy objects like furniture on the floor.
  • Add doormats and area rugs in high-traffic areas to collect moisture and dirt while reducing wear.
  • Clean tracked-in dirt and spills promptly to prevent long-term damage.

Hopefully, this guide helps you understand whether laminate flooring is right for your home. Knowing what details to pay attention to when buying simplifies the process. It also makes it easier to understand whether laminate aligns with your priorities and desires for your flooring solution.