LAMINATE  

Laminate flooring installed

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Laminate flooring works well for -

  • a lower initial investment for a reasonably durable floor

  • a DIY-friendly surface that can be ready for use right after installation

  • situations where you want an exotic or expensive wood look without the cost (or environmental impact) associated with the real thing

Laminate floor technology has come a long way since its introduction, but it's still a picture that's laminated to a wood fiber core.   There are laminate floors that do a very good job at looking like real wood and there are others that don't.  Laminate is 99%  wood product.

Laminate is moderately water-resistant.  If installed well so that no seams are exposed, it presents a waterproof shield.   But when water infiltrates to the lower layers, it can swell up.   Once swollen, the only recourse is to rip it out and install new laminate.

Laminate flooring installation is often compared to that of vinyl floor tile installation.  But this is not an apt comparison as laminate flooring is even easier to install because no adhesive is involved.  Laminate boards "fold and lock" into each other.   You will be able to install one room's worth of laminate in one day.

Because laminate is thicker than vinyl and incorporates wood content, it is easier to walk on and warmer to the touch than vinyl.   Introducing foam underlayment makes laminate slightly softer to walk on.

Laminate's top wear layer is extremely strong.   It holds up well against sharp scratches like those obtained by sliding chairs or tables.

Life cycle is another factor here.   A wood floor can be refinished several times whereas laminate can't be refinished at all.

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