Laminate flooring used to look like a cheap, plastic imitation of real hardwood flooring. Times have changed though; and with the technological advances of laminate flooring in the past decade, laminate flooring is now looking better (and more realistic) than ever. Now, you can have a beautiful, durable and affordable new floor in just a snap!
Laminate flooring made its debut in the late 1970’s. At the time, tongue and grooves had to be glued together during a floating installation and the surface looked more like plastic than anything. Since then, radical changes have been made in the manufacturing process and laminate flooring went from being a cheap throw away option for homeowners to a long lasting, beautiful investment for your home. Now, glueless click lock technologies are standard on laminate flooring and digitally enhanced images make it hard for even flooring professionals to tell the difference between laminate and real wood.
How is a Laminate floor made?
The construction of a laminate floor has 4 basic components:
1. The bottom backing layer (balancing layer) creates a stable and level support for the rest of the plank.
2. On top of the backing layer is a particle board or high density fiberboard core. The core generally contains melamine particles in it for additional moisture protection.
3. Next is the image of the actual wood grain, ceramic tile or stone pattern. Manufacturers like Armstrong, Alloc and Pergo are constantly developing new technologies to make sure their laminate floors look exactly like their real hardwood flooring counterparts.
4. The top layer of a laminate floor offers protection against wear, staining, and fading that you can’t find in a real hardwood flooring product. Many laminate flooring manufacturers include aluminum oxide particles and melamine resin in the top layer of their laminate floor for extra durability and moisture protection.
The laminate floor is created when the 4 layers are pressed together using an incredible amount of pressure (from 300 to over 1300 pounds per square inch, PSI) and heat (up to 400 degrees). The sheets are then cut into individual planks and have the click lock tongue and groove edges cut into them. Afterwards, the planks go through rigorous quality inspections before being packaged and stocked.
Direct pressure laminate vs. High pressure laminate
There are 2 different types of laminate flooring that result from the pressure construction during the manufacturing process: High Pressure Laminate Flooring and Direct Pressure Laminate Flooring.
Most manufacturers use a Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) to create their laminate flooring: Armstrong, Mannington and Columbia are a few examples. Direct Pressure Laminates are generally manufactured with 300 to 500 PSI. Direct Pressure Laminates have more flexible melamine impregnated decorative sheets, allowing manufacturers more flexibility when it comes to creating realistic looking patterns for the laminate floors.
High Pressure Laminate (HPL) floors are made using more than 1300 PSI which results in a thicker decorative layer. High Pressure Laminate construction offers superior impact resistance, superior heat resistance and better sound reduction. Extra layers of kraft paper are added in between layers of High Pressure Laminate floors for extra stability and sound deadening properties. High Pressure Laminate floors are recommended in heavier commercial use because of their maximum durability and stronger construction. Many homeowners also love the peace of mind that comes with an exceptionally wear resistant laminate floor.
Alloc has a good selection of both DPL and HPL. For a more information: Direct Pressure Laminate vs. High Pressure Laminate.
What are the benefits of using a laminate floor?
While laminate flooring is generally priced at 20 to 25% less than hardwood flooring, it has many other benefits consumers should be made aware of.
Laminates offer a huge selection, so you can really find any style or design to complement your living space. Styles that compare to domestic to exotic wood species, from porcelain tile to natural slate, from narrow boards to wide boards to individual tiles. Laminate flooring has it all.
Laminate flooring is very durable. It can be installed in high traffic areas and other areas you would never dream of putting a hardwood floor. Laminate flooring is also protected against UV rays and won’t fade over time with exposure to sunlight. Homeowners with kids and pets especially like the durability of laminate flooring.
Additionally, laminate floor boards can be installed over radiant heating systems, a feature lost with a lot hardwood flooring options.
Laminate flooring takes almost no time at all to install and it’s so easy, you can install it yourself and save even more money. All of the laminate floors we showcase feature simple click lock assembly, allowing a new laminate floor to be installed quickly and walked on right away.
Laminates are easier and less expensive to maintain in the long run than other types of flooring. The protective top layer of laminate floors protect against moisture, wear, fading, and staining.
Finally, laminate flooring is the ultimate environmentally friendly flooring choice for your home and installation is glueless, so there are no harsh chemicals or fumes emitted during installation from glues and adhesives.
Compare laminate flooring with other types of flooring
Laminate flooring vs. Carpet. Laminate flooring is much easier to install and maintain, will last much longer and has a better warranty than carpet floor coverings. Laminate flooring will also add more value to a home than carpet, which should definitely be kept in mind if you’re considering selling the home in the near future. Carpet has a tendency to lock in allergens and odors, whereas many laminate floors are super easy to clean and have antimicrobial attributes protecting you and your family.
Laminate flooring vs. Linoleum or Vinyl. In comparison to linoleum or vinyl, laminates just look better. Laminate flooring will have the same easy to maintain properties as vinyl, but is available in more varied natural designs (i.e. real wood plank looks). Laminate floors can be installed easily over existing vinyl floors, wood floors or tile floors. So, if you’re considering an inexpensive change in your home and want to save a lot of money, take a look at our huge laminate flooring selection!
Laminate flooring vs. Ceramic Tile. Many Laminate flooring styles simulate the look of ceramic or natural stone tiles. But without the worry of the tile cracking or breaking later. One major benefit of laminate flooring over ceramic tile is installation costs. Professional tile installers need to consider thick underlayments that are needed to prevent the tile from cracking and to support the heavy ceramic or natural stone tiles, grouting labor, ceramic cutting, layout and more when estimating a project cost. Click lock laminate flooring is less expensive than ceramic or stone tiles and are so easy to install over most any flat hard surface, many homeowners save even more money by DIY installation.
When purchasing your Laminate flooring from us you will receive 1st quality flooring at the lowest prices, installation accessories and expert installation guidance.