What is a cheap, easy to install, similar looking and easy to repair substitute for hardwood? The correct answer is: laminate. Quickly having become one of the most popular flooring type, it can be a great alternative to hardwood in many ways and has a lot of advantages.
The installation is easier and so is the repair. In comparison to hardwood which should be kept as far away from moisture and humidity as possible, laminate actually doesn’t have a problem and can even be installed “below grade”, making it a perfect fit for bathrooms, kitchens and even outdoors (parking lots, garage area).
Generally, of course, you should try to keep the area where the laminate floor is going to be installed as dry as possible, too but still it isn’t as prone to damage and fungi growth when compared with hardwood. Should you use your laminate in an area with high moisture, make sure your laminate uses joints impregnated with paraffin wax – this will repell water very well.
While finishing a hardwood floor can take several hours or even days, depending on the size of the area it’s being installed in, finishing a laminate floor can be done within a few hours.
Compared to other flooring materials, you don’t have to be an expert or informed yourself religiously about how to install it without making lots of mistakes.during installation.
When purchasing laminate, make sure to opt for a high-quality brand that comes with lifetime warranty – this is going to cost you more but in comparison to other materials, as noted already, it’s still cheaper. This is definitely recommended for high traffic areas but not necessarily needed in low traffic areas or if you don’t intend to live at your place for at least several years. In such a case, a cheaper laminate version with a warranty of 5, 10 or 15 years will do the job, too.
Another benefit of laminate flooring is the look of it – some of the designs border common and popular hardwoods like brazilian cherry or other exotic imports, or traditional species like white/red oak, even imitating the patterns and changes of color. Of course, when giving it a closer look or touch the truth will become obvious, nevertheless it can go a long way of looking like luxurious hardwood yet coming with the benefits of laminate mentioned previously.
Similar to prefinished hardwood planks, laminate is often installed like a floating floor with the “lock & fold” method, where a tongue interlocks in the groove of another plank. However, laminate can also come in different sizes of squares, not only planks.
Traditionally, laminate flooring consists of 6 layers but I’ll just cover the most important ones: the surface layer is made of melamine, an extremely tough, durable and hard material able to resist stains, burns and scratches.
The next one is the print layer that pretty much gives the great look of colors and patterns to a laminate floor. Last but certainly not the least is the core layer which is made of a high densitiy fiber board, giving your floor the required thickness, stability and structure and resins of melamine, another level of protection against moisture.
I hope I was able to give you a birds eye view of laminate, it’s advantages and how it compares to hardwood. If you could choose, would you rather go for hardwood or laminate – and why? I’d appreciate your comments!