Have you ever played the old party game where someone comes up with three truths and one lie about themselves? All the other players try to guess which of the four statements is the lie.
Shopping for floors can feel like playing a guessing game. Except the stakes are a little bit higher. Your budget, your interior design, and a long-lasting, durable floor may all be areas where you want to win.
Making Sense of Laminate Floors
This post will tell you what you need to know about one of the major players in today’s flooring world. It will also introduce you to an up-and-coming alternative to laminate flooring. We hope you can gain some knowledge to help you play your hand with confidence.
What is laminate flooring?
Laminate is a multi-layer flooring material mostly composed of particle board. The particle board (either plywood or fiberboard) forms the base and is covered with an image layer, which in turn is covered by a clear plastic protective coating.
The History of Laminate
Before laminate was a floor, people used it for their kitchen countertops. Then in the 1970s, a Swedish company, Perstorp, invented laminate flooring. This new flooring hit the European market in the 1980s and North America in the 1990s, exciting homeowners who couldn’t afford hardwood floors but craved the woodgrain look.
The first laminate floors mimicked wood but weren’t realistic enough to be confused with real wood. They still tended to look plastic. As laminate’s popularity increased, so did its manifold options, including the quality of the wood, stone, or tile images.
3 Truths and A Lie About Laminate Floors
It’s time to play the game. Which one is false and which ones are true?
- Laminate is a floating floor.
- Laminate does not handle moisture well.
- Laminate is not ideal for kitchens or bathrooms.
- Laminate can be resanded or refinished just like a wood floor.
1. Laminate is a floating floor.
Are you ready to glide through your home on a floating floor? Well, it’s not quite that idyllic.
A floating floor simply means a floor that’s not glued down. Nearly all laminate floors have a click-and-lock system that connects each plank to the next rather than each plank getting glued down. This makes installation easy.
Additionally, If your base floor is slightly uneven, a floating floor can obscure that. However, floating floors are time-consuming to repair. First off, unless you’ve kept a couple of extra planks on hand, you may have a hard time finding replacement planks that match your floor color exactly.
Secondly, say a plank in the middle of your room got scratched. You or a flooring professional will need to take off the baseboard. Starting at the wall, you will need to unlock and remove each plank until you reach and retrieve the offending plank. After replacing the new plank, you will need to reinstall all the other planks.
It’s like wanting to replace one lego brick in a lego house you just completed. To do that, you’ll have to remove and replace a lot of other bricks as well.
2. Laminate does not handle moisture well.
Water can damage laminate floors. If water seeps down between the planks and reaches the fiberboard or plywood core, it can cause the floors to buckle or ripple.
As Lee Wallender writes on The Spruce, “If you’ve ever seen a sheet of particleboard in the rain, you’ll know how it bubbles up and crumbles like a wet soda cracker.” He continues, “Seam gaps plus a fiberboard core equals a flooring that will swell and delaminate when water seeps past the surface layer.”
Many modern laminate manufacturers do claim water resistance. In a Forbes article listing some of the best laminate materials for homes, AquaGuard’s flooring ranks as the strongest candidate for water-resistant flooring. It is water-resistant in standing water for up to 30 minutes.
For a laminate that can be trusted for waterproofing, there are a few limited options made of PVC plastic with no fiberboard core. But the vast majority of laminates have a fiberboard core and thus can not be 100% waterproof for the long haul.
3. Laminate is not ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.
Because of its tendency toward moisture damage, steer clear of putting laminate in your kitchen or bathroom. It’s simply not worth it.
However, if your heart is set on laminate, you can make it work in another room. You just want to make sure that you install it in a room with low humidity and where spills aren’t likely to happen.
4. Laminate can be resanded or refinished just like a wood floor.
Remember, laminate is not a wooden floor; it is a synthetic floor, composed of several layers. Laminate’s top layer, sometimes known as the wear layer, is a very tough, hard finish often made from aluminum oxide.
Deep scratches, ripples from moisture damage, or otherwise worn or faded spots cannot be sanded out and refinished like a hardwood floor. You will need a new floor.
Summing it up
Many people tend to think of laminate as an elite flooring that is a good alternative to hardwood without the cost and upkeep. That’s fair. Laminate IS an economical, easy-to-install option with many image patterns to choose from. But its proneness to moisture damage is its Achilles heel.
Thankfully, there are other options.
Luxury Vinyl–An Alternative to Laminate
Two options that have been capturing the allegiance of homeowners are Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). As with laminate, these luxury vinyl choices mimic the look of wood or tile, in some cases even more than laminate can. And they are 100% waterproof!
Here are some benefits of LVP and LVT.
- Easy to install
- Perfect for kitchens and bathrooms
Do you have more questions on laminate and luxury vinyl? We know how important your flooring project is to you. We make it just that important to us. Our experts offer step-by-step guidance to “win” the floor you’re looking for and fulfill your dreams for your home.
About this Article: Steve Leid, owner of Eloquin, has years of experience in high-end construction and premium flooring. Steve provided inspiration for this article and collaborated with a copywriter to produce it.
Contact Steve at (419) 920-6210 with any questions about this article or your personal flooring needs.