You're in the hardware shop looking for suitable hardwood floors when you come across it: a sample that looks like wood but costs half as much. It's so convincing that you'd mistake it for the real thing if it weren't for the product label.
You read the fine print and are pleased with what you find. Durable. It's simple to set up. Life expectancy is estimated to be between 10 and 20 years. There are a variety of colours and patterns to choose from. You might be astonished to learn that this eye-catching, budget-friendly material is laminate. This isn't your grandmother's laminate, though.
It makes you ponder if laminate flooring will add value to your home or if it will cheapen the look of your entire house with its imitative games. You'll need to make a wise decision before heading to the checkout line.
Laminate does not exist in nature. It's also not made entirely of plastic. Laminate combines four unique bonded layers into a single material, according to FlooringAmerica, a cooperative of more than 500 independent flooring shops in North America. Let's have a look at how the laminate is manufactured behind the scenes:
The initial laminate flooring layer sets the tone by providing a flat, smooth surface. It also acts as the first line of defence against any moisture that could cause the flooring to deteriorate.
This rigid layer, which comprises high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), increases protection and offers a robust and lasting surface.
Would you believe the laminate's top layer is a high-resolution image of the material it's imitating? You'll be surprised at how well the printed paper overlay mimics stone, wood, and even marble.
A protective layer of aluminium oxide tops off the multi-layer masterpiece. The wear layer not only seals in the decorative layer but also protects the floor against fading, stains, scratches, and other damage that can detract from its attractiveness.
When all layers are finished, a manufacturer will utilize direct-pressure laminate (DPL) construction to fuse them, utilizing heat up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure everything sticks.
In the 1970s, laminate flooring first appeared on the market. The early models had a lot to be desired in terms of quality and appearance. These incarnations mostly resembled plastic and didn't imitate wood or other materials.
Laminate designs saturated the market in bright hues and outlandish patterns in the 1970s and 1980s, which were a far cry from today's more neutral, nature-inspired designs. However, in decades, flooring makers have sought to enhance the technique to provide a more acceptable finish.
Pergo was founded in the late 1980s and early 1990s to provide high-pressure laminate flooring choices developed by Perstorp, a Swedish chemical business.
Pergo debuted in the United States in 1994 and quickly gained traction as homeowners flocked to the opportunity to install more sophisticated laminate flooring for a fraction of the cost of hardwood. Despite this, early Pergo alternatives lacked the look of wood or other more expensive materials, and they appeared to be plastic.
Top brands like Pergo, Mohawk, Shaw, Armstrong, AquaGuard, and other flooring manufacturers now create authentic-looking laminate alternatives that look and feel like wood thanks to technical improvements. Modern laminate floorboards come with realistic textures and finishes rather than a flat, solid surface.
Despite a drop in demand in recent years, laminate still accounts for over 5% of the flooring market, trailing only carpet and rugs, resilient flooring, tile, and hardwood.
The term "resilient" refers to various flooring types, the most popular of which are luxury vinyl tile and luxury vinyl plank—young notices more luxury vinyl possibilities than laminate. There isn't much of a cost difference between the two, but LVP offers a few advantages: more durable, it's higher-quality, and 100% moisture-proof, making it a good choice for pet owners.
For a few critical reasons, laminate flooring remains a popular choice among a particular segment of the population:
The most crucial factor in installing laminate flooring, one of the most affordable options, is usually the budget. According to HomeAdvisor, laminate floor materials will cost between $1 and $5 per square foot, with labour costing between $1.50 and $3 per square foot.
On the other hand, Wood costs $3-$7 per square foot in materials and $3-$5 per square foot in labour. Laminate flooring costs between $437 and $1,400 for a 175-square-foot kitchen, while hardwood costs $1,050 and $2,100.
On the other hand, Wood has a material cost of $3-$7 per square foot and a labour cost of $3-$5 per square foot. For a 175-square-foot kitchen, laminate flooring costs $437 and $1,400, while hardwood costs $1,050 and $2,100.
Installing laminate over existing wood, concrete, or vinyl flooring is possible in some circumstances, as long as the existing flooring is level and smooth and a laminate underlay is used. This makes laminate installation considerably more accessible and faster than wood or tile. As a result, it's become a popular option for do-it-yourselfers.
Earlier laminates weren't known for their ability to withstand moisture, but now there are waterproof versions with a water-resistant core layer. If the floor has been exposed to wetness, this extra layer buys you some time. Like natural wood, laminate will not scratch, stain, dent, or fade in the sun.
The material has a wood-like appearance and texture that is practically indistinguishable from the real thing, thanks to the newest high-resolution imaging behind the decorative layer of laminate. There's something for everyone on the market, with various design and colour possibilities.
Despite the benefits laminate provides and the numerous efforts made to improve its appearance and performance, some homeowners may be disappointed by the material if they believe it to be hardwood disguised. If any of these potential disadvantages make you nervous, reconsider your decision to install it:
Current laminate has come a long way in wetness resistance, but it is still not completely waterproof. The middle layers are made of high-density fiberboard (HDF), which is more susceptible to moisture than hardwood. The flooring will need to be replaced if the HDF becomes water damaged.
Natural hardwood has the advantage of being able to be sanded and refinished repeatedly, resulting in a like-new bottom without the requirement to substitute it. If your laminate becomes scratched, soiled, or otherwise damaged, you won't be able to restore it.
If the corresponding style is still available, replacing individual flooring may be possible. You'd have to pay for a complete replacement otherwise.
Laminate is the most cost-effective option for consumers wishing to replace their flooring on a tight budget. However, will the upfront cost savings be outweighed by a decrease in property value?
According to Craig Miller, there is no clear-cut approach for estimating flooring value, appraising residential single-family and two-to four-family properties since 1983. However, most high-end home purchasers, in his experience, choose natural hardwood or ceramic. Laminate flooring is more common in low- to mid-priced homes.
According to Amanda Jones, most homeowners in her high-priced area, a top-selling real estate agent in San Francisco, would choose natural materials over laminate.
According to Miller, laminate is most commonly used in bathrooms and laundry rooms, followed by kitchens because it is simpler to clean in high-traffic areas. The use of laminate in bedrooms and living rooms is discouraged.
He also mentions that purchasers with dogs may prefer high-grade laminate over wood or carpet because laminate lasts longer, is easy to clean, and does not show scratches like wood.
The value of a home will also be affected by the type of flooring previously installed. If the laminate replaces worn, old carpet or sheet vinyl, you may see a value increase. However, if your home currently has old hardwood floors, you should refinish them rather than replace them with low-quality laminate.
Today's more modern laminate flooring options are proving to be a functional and visually acceptable alternative to more expensive hardwoods and tiles for many budget-conscious homes. However, the material will not be the ideal suit for every homeowner or home.
If you're thinking about selling your home soon and want to know which flooring is best for resale, talk to a local real estate agent about what buyers want in your neighbourhood and how other homes compare. What is our final piece of advice? Consider your flooring alternatives a second time. Install it only once!