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How do I Choose the Best Laminated Floors?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Laminated floors are an affordable alternative to traditional hardwood or ceramic tile flooring. They are constructed using a composite core made from wood scraps, sawdust, and resin. The core is topped with a sheet of paper that is printed to resemble wood grain or tile, and then sealed with a protective coat of urethane. Laminated floors offer a very realistic looking finish, and can be difficult to distinguish from real wood or ceramic, even up close. When choosing these floors, it can be helpful to know which features to look for to help you make your selection.

Most brands of laminated floors are rated using the AC laminate scale created by the Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (ELPF). This organization developed this scale to measure the durability, wear-resistance, and hardness of composite floor products. The scale ranges from one to five, with higher numbers given to more durable and long-lasting products. A level one or two floor is best suited for residential applications, while levels 3 and 4 are generally used in commercial settings. Level 5 products are designed for heavy-duty commercial buildings such as schools and shopping malls.

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To make the right choice, buyers should also consider installation methods. The majority of laminated floors are installed using a floating installation technique. This means that the laminate floats above the subfloor without the use of glues, nails, or screws. Instead, the planks lock together using integral tongue-and-groove connectors. If you plan to install these floors in areas prone to high moisture, look for laminate products designed to be glued together to help ensure a higher level of moisture resistance.

Laminated floors can be constructed using either a direct pressure of high-pressure manufacturing technique. Direct pressure units are constructed using a single-step process, where the paper top layer is pressed to the composite core under high heat and pressure. High-pressure versions use a multi-step process, where the core and top coat are added in layers at a much higher level of heat and pressure. While a high-pressure laminate floor will usually be more expensive, it can also be expected to last longer and perform better than direct pressure products.

Because laminated floors cannot be stained or refinished, it's also important to carefully compare color and finish options. Examine color charts carefully, and request physical samples before making your final selection. You'll find laminate in many different colors, styles, and grain patterns to match almost any decor.

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Sporkasia
Post 3

I speak from experience when I say you should choose the highest level laminate hardwood flooring for the area where you are installing the floor.

The first floor we put down had an AC laminate rating of 1. At the time we were not aware that there was a higher rating of 2 with both ratings being usable in homes. We found that in our family room the 1 rated floor was not durable enough and did not last as well.

Also, when you look at all the wood options and designs you can be overwhelmed, so do as the article suggested and take a sample home to make sure it matches with your decor.

Animandel
Post 2

Drentel - I installed one of the laminate floors. Originally, I thought these products only came as laminate wood flooring. Once I saw the tile-like one, I decided to give it a try. Thus far I have really enjoyed the floor.

Many people have commented that the floor looks like tile, we have found that keeping it clean is simple and it is sturdy. Installation wasn't too bad. If you install it in your kitchen then be sure to use a silicon sealant around any water sources--like the sink and dishwasher.

All and all, I recommend the floor. We like ours. And we chose a level 2 rated floor.

Drentel
Post 1

I want to install a laminate floor in my kitchen-- one of the ones that looks like tile. Has anyone done this? I've read that these floors are easier to install than tile and easier to take care of. Not to mention, they are less expensive, too.

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