What Is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate floors are now a standard feature in millions of homes. Laminate floors, which were originally installed primarily as a type of economy flooring, continue to hold their place as inexpensive, functional flooring.

Laminate floors are now a standard feature in millions of homes. Laminate floors, which were originally installed primarily as a type of economy flooring, continue to hold their place as inexpensive, functional flooring.

However, they have replaced solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring in many upscale residences. Laminate flooring has improved greatly in appearance, functionality, and feel as a result of technological developments such as deeper embossing and sharper image layers. All of this popularity begs the question, “What exactly are laminate floors?”

The fundamentals of laminate flooring

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Modern laminate flooring consists of three layers: a particleboard wood base, an image layer, and a transparent wear layer. Laminate floors are a popular type of floor covering for homes’ living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways, and other non-wet areas.

Swedish firm Perstorp introduced laminate flooring in 1977. The idea was to subject scrap wood to intense heat and pressure before binding it with chemicals. The end result was functional floor coverings that were also quite beautiful.

Many other manufacturers, including Dupont, Mannington, Armstrong, and Shaw, have since introduced laminate floors. Let us go through some of the pros and cons of Laminate floors.

Pros

Laminate floors are easy to clean because they have smooth surfaces with no seams. Wet mopping is never required for laminate floors. A dry mop or broom should be able to get rid of the majority of the dust and dirt. For thorough cleaning, use a hard surface mopping tool that dispenses cleaning fluid rather than water.

Most homes are scratch-resistant due to their tough wear layer, making them ideal for homes with pets and children. Although some premium laminate floors can cost as much as solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring, laminate floors are inexpensive in comparison to other types of floor coverings.

Cons

Laminate flooring, which is mostly made of moisture-sensitive particleboard, can swell beyond repair if exposed to water for an extended period of time. Laminate flooring is waterproof in theory—but only if all boards are perfectly joined with no seams and all edges are trimmed with waterproof baseboards.

While the wear layer of laminate flooring is surprisingly tough, the boards are easily chipped. Laminate flooring should not be used in areas where moisture is present. This can be a problem because it frequently excludes full bathrooms, laundry rooms, and, in some cases, key areas in kitchens, such as in front of dishwashers or behind refrigerators.

Read More:Top 10 Benefits of Hardwood Flooring

Materials for laminate flooring

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Although laminate floors are sometimes referred to as laminate wood floors, they are only wood in two ways: the base material and the appearance. The laminate floor base is made up of pressed chipped wood particles. Second, the accurate image layer—basically a well-rendered photograph of wood encased in a clear, durable wear layer—gives the top the appearance of real wood.

Sheets are formed by applying high pressure to aggregated wood particles. These sheets have a photorealistic image of wood or stone on top, which is protected by a wear layer. The wear layer, a tough, thin, clear plastic sheet, acts as a barrier between the delicate lower layers and outside elements like moisture, UV rays, and scratching.

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Wear layer laminate

Laminate flooring has a surface layer of two thin sheets of melamine-impregnated paper. This topmost surface layer is a hard, transparent plastic sheet that is resistant to dogs, chairs, high heels, and other common abrasives. Laminate flooring can appear realistic even when viewed up close. This is because the laminate contains a photographic-quality image of real wood beneath the wear layer.

Base layer laminate

A half-inch of wood-chip composite is visible beneath the wood-grain photograph. Water damage is inherent in any type of wood chip product. A laminate floor’s subfloor is dimensionally stable, but only to a point. Laminate flooring can withstand some water, but only if the water is quickly removed.

Laminate installation procedure

Because laminate floors have a modified tongue-and-groove style of joining boards, they install similarly to solid hardwood flooring. However, unlike hardwood flooring, which typically requires professional installation, laminate floors are extremely simple to install with only basic tools.

Laminate floors are always installed as floating floors. This means it does not have the difficult nail-down installation issues associated with hardwood or engineered wood. The floating floor method begins with the installation of inexpensive foam underlayment, followed by the installation of laminate planks.

The laminate flooring planks cannot move because they are joined from one piece to the next to form a single heavy unit. Laminate floor planks are either snapped or glued together, depending on the type you purchase. The most common snap-together method is known by several names, including fold-and-lay and fold-and-lock.

Unlike tongue and groove joinery, which involves sliding one board laterally into the adjoining board, fold-and-lay begins with two boards attached by outer grooves and angled to each other. Then, one board is folded down until it is as flat as the other. This folding mechanism brings the two boards invisibly closer together, tightening the bond and preventing water migration.

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Conclusion

Laminate floors, like all floor coverings, require a good, solid subfloor. Between the subfloor and the laminate, foam or felt underlayment separates the two surfaces and provides a softer footfall. When the subfloor is inadequate, an intervening underlayment of thin plywood installed above the subfloor and below the foam underlayment may be installed. If the subfloor isn’t level, the laminate may have unsightly gaps between boards, so make sure it’s even before you start installing.

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