What laminate flooring is made from, what makes laminate flooring a good choice for the do-it-yourselfer
Laminate Flooring: A Picture Perfect Flooring Solution
The popularity of laminate flooring began in Europe, and is becoming increasingly popular in North America as well. But what is laminate flooring exactly, and even though it appears as
though it is made of real hardwood, why must it be counted as being in a class by itself?
Laminate flooring has been a popular choice in other parts of the world for many years,
most notably in Europe where the grading of laminate flooring is still the industry standard.
Laminate flooring is made up of a core of dense fiberboard, and a top layer on which
a photographed pattern is pressure sealed by a coating of plastic-like aluminum oxide.
When you walk on a laminate floor that appears to be made of real wood, you are actually
walking on a very realistic photograph! This sealed photographic, or décor layer, makes the
laminate floor surface very durable and resistant to damage from high foot traffic, household pets,
and light moisture. The core layer is thereby protected from moisture that might land on the top surface,
although water spills or other moisture should be mopped up promptly and not allowed to sit on the floor.
Advantages of laminate flooring: installation
Beyond the laminate floor’s resistance to moisture, scratching, and staining, which allows the floor
to be very low maintenance, one of the main draws of laminate flooring is the ease of its installation.
Many types laminate flooring provide a "glueless" alternative, allowing each board to be connected
by means of a tongue-and-groove design that clicks together to form a sturdily fastened surface.
With some experience in light carpentry, a laminate floor is a good option for a proficient do-it-yourselfer.
In this sense, installing laminate flooring yourself could save you the cost of hiring a professional.
If you happen to be a professional, a laminate floor is a great time-saving option to offer to clients,
allowing you to move to the next job with minimum fuss and maximum results.
When laying the first row of laminate flooring, it is important to leave a 10mm gap
between the row and the wall to allow for expansion of the laminate flooring and avoid arching.
When laying subsequent rows of laminate, stagger the seams to make sure that the
laminate is securely interlocked across the entire surface. Once the laminate floor is laid,
you can add moldings and skirting boards to complete the job.
Advantages of laminate flooring: subfloors
Another advantage in choosing laminate flooring is the versatility it allows on nearly any type of dry,
clean, and level subfloor. Laminate flooring is a great alternative for two reasons
that preclude hardwood flooring as an option. First because the laminate
flooring reflects the aesthetic value for which hardwood floors are well known.
Laminate flooring can achieve a similar look to that of hardwood flooring.
Second, in the case where a subfloor is not compatible with the installation of hardwood flooring,
either because of moisture levels or because the subfloor is of a variety (e.g. concrete)
that does not allow the hardwood to be directly fastened to it.
Laminate flooring is extremely versatile and can be installed on nearly every
type of subfloor, ranging from concrete, to a new wood subfloor, to an existing vinyl
or ceramic subfloor, as long as the subfloor is level, clean, and dry. Laminate flooring
can be installed with confidence in nearly any part of a home or office, with the exception
of areas prone to extreme dampness or excessive moisture, such as bathrooms or laundry rooms.
To protect against moisture that might come from underneath your laminate floor,
it is recommended that a vapor barrier be installed, or at least that a moisture-protecting
underlayment be used under the flooring
Limitations of laminate floors
Although the core layer of most laminate flooring is somewhat moisture resistant,
it is usually considered unsuitable for areas where a great deal of moisture can be expected,
such as your bathroom or laundry room. The surface layer of the laminate is more likely to keep any problems
to a minimum, but once moisture finds its way along the edges and underneath the surface layer
, warping and swelling can result in your laminate floor. When installing on a subfloor
that is likely to let in a lot of moisture, a vapor barrier underneath the underlayment is highly recommended.
Another possible limitation comes from the "floating floor" nature of your laminate flooring.
Because of the space between the laminate and the subfloor, walking on a laminate floor can result
in more audible footfalls. Of course, this is entirely dependent upon how sensitive you are to this
kind of thing, and also how the general acoustics of the flooring space helps or hinders sound
transmission. The underlayment can help to reduce the "echo" to varying degrees, depending on the
kind you choose.
Cleaning your laminate floor
This moisture limitations mentioned above should also be kept in mind when cleaning your laminate floor.
Never flood the floor or mop it with excessive water. A laminate floor can be cleaned simply by using
a vacuum cleaner with a soft flooring attachment, or a broom, or a slightly damp cloth or mop.
Avoid floor wax products or harsh, soap-based cleaners as these will affect the floor’s décor layer.
Laminate flooring can really give your living space or work space a slick and elegant appeal at a
significantly low cost when compared to hardwood. Along with its durability and versatility,
laminate flooring is easy to maintain, allowing you more time to get on with other things.