A Complete Guide to the Different Types of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring has always been a popular option with homeowners because it comes in a wide range of styles and durability levels and is extremely resistant to moisture. It also looks and feels similar to real hardwood. High-quality laminate flooring is comfortable to walk on, looks great, and is affordable!
However, unlike parquet, laminate flooring is not made entirely from real wood. Instead, an engineered wood core layer is wrapped with a decorative layer.
Nonetheless, the availability of different colours and textures makes laminate a preferred choice among homeowners. Here’s how to pick laminate flooring for your home
What Are the Different Laminate Flooring Types?
There are many types of laminate flooring and each differs in terms of its characteristics, systems, installation process, and AC rating.
Unlike hardwood flooring, which is differentiated based on its species, laminate is categorized based on many factors, including its construction process, thickness, and texture. Here, we break down all the different styles and laminate flooring types so you don’t get overwhelmed by your choices in store.
1. Construction Process
When you choose laminate flooring, the first thing you need to decide is how to lay it. To do this, you need to properly understand its construction and production. Laminates are produced based on three main layers: the core, the decorative layer, and the backing.
The core is developed by compressing wood pulp or fibres under high pressure. This compression is why laminates are so shock-resistant; in fact, the higher the pressure, the greater the durability.
Depending on the pressure, laminate can be of two types;
- High-Pressure Laminate (HPL)
HPL is made under 1000 pounds of pressure, which makes it the perfect choice for areas with a high amount of foot traffic.
- Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL)
DPL is manufactured under 300-500 pounds of pressure. Though still highly durable, it is more suited to less-trafficked areas, such as small offices and houses.
Thickness is one of the primary characteristics that differentiates laminate flooring types. Laminate flooring is measured in millimetres (mm). There are six main types depending on the thickness: 6 mm, 7 mm, 8 mm, 10 mm, 12 mm, and 14 mm. Among those, 7, 8, 10 and 12 mm are most popular.
Stable subfloors require thinner laminate flooring, while thicker flooring is more suited to a wood subfloor or slightly uneven areas. Laminate floors with a thickness between 12 mm and 15 mm seem more like hardwood flooring than thinner laminates.
Thickness also determines the amount of space you will need between the subfloor and the object, such as walls. This gives the flooring a chance to expand and allows you to open and close the door without any obstruction.
Also, you need to make sure that your laminate flooring comes with padding. Generally, the thickness mentioned consists of the plank and padding, unless you get the underlayment separately.
Thanks to advances in technology, laminate flooring looks better than ever. It can even be made to resemble real hardwood. Laminate flooring’s various types depend on its texture.
- Satin/Smooth Finish
This type of texture provides a shiny yet subtle finish. The reflective power is there but is not overwhelming.
- Matte Finish
This is one of the most popular textures. If you want a laminate that resembles hardwood floors, this is the way to go.
- Hand-Scraped Finish
This is not actually hand-scraped but is made to look like a hand-scraped hardwood floor.
- Natural Wood Finish
This is another texture that makes the laminate feel a lot like natural wood. This authentic texturing has made it very popular.
- Soft-Scraped Finish
In order to produce this particular texture, a subtle, timeworn finish is added. This type of laminate flooring has a subdued look.
- Oiled Wood Finish
A rather traditional style of laminate flooring, this type of textured laminate resembles untreated natural wooden floors, making them look like they have been treated with natural oils.
- High Gloss/Piano Finish
This type of finish is suitable for upscale modern interiors due to its shiny and elegant appearance.
- Oxide Surface Finish
This metallic finish gives a small amount of shine and is used mostly for modern and chic interiors.
- Slate/Stone Finish
By definition, this texture resembles a slate or stone floor.
4. Edge Type
Thanks to the edge type, you can understand how each plank of laminate flooring is cut. The edge type significantly impacts the overall appearance of all planks. Whether they will float seamlessly together or have a defined edge depends a lot on this factor.
The primary types of laminate edges consist of:
- Square Edge
In a traditional square-edge type, floors are finished with 90° edges, giving it a sleek look with a seamless transition between planks.
- Micro-Bevel Edge
In this case, laminate flooring planks have a very subtle rounded corner or micro-bevel. These are popular in modern homes.
- Deep Bevel or V-Groove Edge
Here, each plank is uniquely grooved, with defined edges in the shape of the letter “V.” This type of laminate flooring makes it look like there is only one solid wood plank throughout the entire room.
- Rolled Bevel Edge
The design and colour of the floor ‘rollover’, or go beyond the edges, giving each plank a realistic appearance without adding sharp edges.
- Painted Bevel Edge
Here, plank edges are painted for a more pronounced appearance.
5. Locking System
One of the biggest advantages of laminate flooring is that you can install them by yourself without hammers or nails. They lock together using a glueless method by just placing them firmly to make a floating floor. The pattern of this locking system varies between manufacturers but is generally divided into two categories:
- Tongue and Groove
Laminate flooring with the tongue-and-groove locking system is the most popular type. In this method, the pieces are interlocked. This is extremely secure, as the placement will not change once installed.
In this method, aluminum-made mechanical locking systems are incorporated from underneath the planks to keep the pieces together.
If you are fond of the solid wood look of hardwood flooring and are looking for a cost-effective alternative, laminate is your best choice. This flooring type is made using raw and recycled wood materials and can last a long time if you choose the right kind.