Everything You Need to Know About Laminate Flooring

So many flooring choices! Here's what you need to know about laminate flooring to help you decide if it's the right floor for you.

Wood is warm, clean and looks great in almost any setting, so no wonder it’s been a popular flooring choice around the world for centuries. In recent years, less expensive laminate flooring that closely mimics the look of solid hardwood has become increasingly popular.

Here’s what to know about laminate flooring to make the best decision for your home.

What Are the Different Types of Laminate Flooring?

The two basic types of laminate flooring are engineered wood and plastic laminate.

Engineered wood is made of many layers of real wood, with a top layer of high-quality hardwood.

Plastic laminate is made up of a bottom layer of melamine, a middle layer of fiberboard and a top layer of — you guessed it — plastic, designed to look like wood.

Of course, engineered laminate is far better quality, has a far more convincing appearance and will last twice as long, but it also costs at least twice as much as plastic laminate.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring?

Here are some advantages of laminate flooring over hardwood flooring:

  • Less expensive.

  • More environmentally-friendly.

  • Has a tougher, scratch-resistant top surface layer that can hide smudges and dust better.

  • Engineered laminate has greater stability in different temperatures and moisture levels, thanks to its many layers.

Of course, there are also disadvantages to laminate flooring compared to hardwood:

  • Hardwood can be sanded for decades to give it a fresh surface.

  • Hardwood is considered a better investment, increasing your home’s value more than laminate flooring.

  • Hardwood is perceived as classic. Laminate can go out of style quicker, depending on the color and finish.

How Can You Tell if It’s Good Quality Laminate Flooring?

While looking at the flooring samples, ask yourself:

  • Does it look exactly like real wood, or an imitation?

  • Does it have a natural variety of shapes and lines in the grain, or is there a repeating wood pattern?

  • Do the joints between pieces lock together tight, or are there small spaces?

  • Is there a smooth bevel on the edges that will hide imperfections, or is it totally flat, thus showing any mistakes or height differences in the subfloor?

Also, look for an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) rating of 9001, which indicates that it has met international quality standards.

Is Laminate Flooring Easy to Install?

Laminate flooring is far easier to install than hardwood. Thousands of DIYers have had great success installing it because it is lightweight, simple to snap together and can be installed over many different subfloors. These are the eight tools you need to install laminate flooring.

Evan Postier
A freelance writer with calluses on his hands, Evan has worked in the construction trades since he was 14. There aren't many tasks he hasn't tackled thanks to the training that he received as a woodworker, carpenter and auto mechanic. His membership in the MN Woodworker's Guild keeps his skills honed as sharp as his chisels. When he's not writing, you can find him building, fixing, creating or improving something with the unreasonable amount of tools that he owns.