Laminate flooring is a product that realistically captures and delivers the look of wood, slate, tile and stone with all of their beauty and none of their vulnerability. It is installed over a flooring underlayment, and is typically more stain resistant, easier to mantain, and less likely to fade in sunlight than most of the products it simulates.
Laminate is constructed as shown in the image on the right:
Laminate flooring typically has a layered construction with three or four parts:
A) Wear layer: This easy-to-clean surface contains aluminum oxide which protects the floor from stains, fading and wear. Look for an abrasion classification (A/C) rating of at least 3 for adequate residential use protection.
B) Image design layer: A photographic image of wood, stone, or virtually anything you can imagine.
C) Inner core layer: The core provides the floor’s structural strength and stability. It is made from high-density fiberboard. The core is often impregnated with a plastic resin called melamine to increase the floor’s strength, stability and resistance to moisture. Products that have high levels of melamine do not require acclimation before installation.
D) Backing layer: Found beneath the inner core, the backing is made with resin saturated paper. It creates a moisture barrier that protects the floor from warping.
All laminate floor layers are fused together using one of two processes. DPL, or direct pressure laminate, is the most common construction for residential use. HPL, or high-pressure laminate, is an extra-hard construction. The difference between the two relates to cost, performance and design realism. DPL is less expensive, has the same gouge resistance as HPL when objects are dropped at or below counter height, and is easier to emboss for more realistic texture. HPL is more expensive and less likely to gouge if items are dropped from above counter-top height, but is harder to emboss, so it doesn’t look as realistic.
Laminate products feature a newer type of wear surface that resists scratching, denting, and burns better than many existing products. They also offer extended product warranties to back up these claims for superior performance.
Much of the styling is done in wood grain patterns taking advantage of the popularity of hardwood.
Still other styling resembles natural stone like you would find in ceramic tile. Laminates offer a popular trade-off for people wanting wood or ceramic. Laminate floors are more scratch resistant than most regular hardwood finishes and easier to clean than the grout lines associated with ceramic tile installations. Laminates also require less demanding preparation of the subfloor because they are not glued directly to the subfloor. Most of these products are glued or snapped together over foam padding. This feature has made laminate flooring popular in areas where vinyl flooring traditionally was installed. Custom floor design is also very easily done with products that offer planks and squares that mix and match together.
High pressure laminate vs. direct pressure laminate
You’ll hear conversation on this difference but both products perform equally as well in most situations. The high-pressure products have greater chipping and impact resistance. High-pressure laminates also have a separate wear surface protecting the pattern, whereas the pattern and the wear surface is the same with direct pressure products.
Laminate flooring in wet areas
Many of the products are okay for wet areas, but the core is made of wood fiber. Look for products that have warranties that cover water damage. All of them will insist on proper installation.
Finishing touches are important
Look for products that can provide the needed accessories like reducer strips, stairnose, and even air vents that either match or coordinate with the flooring.
There is no substitute for a knowledgeable salesperson
Our knowledgeable design people can help you sort out laminate colors and styles and match them to your performance needs so that your purchase makes sense while achieving beauty and style for your home or office.
The installation process is just as important to a successful project as the products that we sell. Our craftsmen deliver the end product that ulitmately makes our clients proud of their project. We pride ourselves on our quality of installation. Each member of our team knows our commitment to doing a job right. We reinforce this by a system of continuing education and certification, training programs and seminars, and on the job implementation. Our installers are our own employees and work strictly for us, unlike the independent installation subcontractors that most others use. LEARN MORE