Laminate Flooring a Perfect Substitute

November 11th, 2014 Paul Dekker

Laminate floors are not new material to the flooring business. In fact we are 30 years and several generations of products in. The new thing is the technology that makes these products so lifelike that it is hard to distinguish them from a genuine wood floor. Even the texture of the surface is aligned with the pattern in the photograph of wood grain (on register). Laminate certainly is a less expensive substitute for solid wood floors.

Laminate floors are quite easy to install. If you can run a table saw and use a measuring tape you can probably do the job. But don’t skip reading the instructions that come in the box of material as there are different types of tongue and groove connections that require a slightly different approach depending on the manufacturer. It is an area that a do-it-your-selfer can save money but if you can afford it let a pro do it, they do have the tools and experience to get it done right particularly around door jambs and kitchen islands.

Laminate is a “floating” floor in that it does not get directly attached to the surface below. It was initially developed for the European market where installed floors increased property taxes, a floating floor did not. Like wood floors, Laminate floors do expand and contract with temperature change but if these floors are allowed a 1/2″ around the outside of the install they will lay flat without issue.

When laminate flooring is installed, a thin pad is placed between it and the surface below. A basic pad keeps the floor quiet and not hollow sounding when you walk on it. A heavier membrane can be used to assist in noise isolation to the floor below. If Laminate is being installed in a basement (below grade) be sure to select a pad with a vapour barrier as moisture and laminate flooring do not get along.

Like any product there is a full range of laminate floors available on the market. Very inexpensive products will have paper thin wear layers that will not last while better products have newer more durable finishes like aluminum oxide which are very resistant to scratches and stains. Better products will also be more resistant to moisture damage with sealed joints while lesser products will swell if moisture is present.

There are many products available for your home these days. A flooring professional can give you the information you need to get the right solution for you project, the knowledge to install yourself or a connection with a pro to do it for you.

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