Are you about to redo the floor in your basement, or to finish a room following major renovations? Laminate flooring is the perfect solution for you. It is an alternative to hardwood flooring. Whether it is for a condo, office, basement or even a house, laminate flooring is indeed an excellent option when your budget is tight. However, it is important to recognize that finding the right laminate flooring for your home is no small feat. In this article, discover all the factors you need to take into account to make sure you choose the best laminate flooring.
First of all, let’s take a look at what laminate flooring really is. Also known as a floating floor or laminate floor, a laminate floor is a parquet floor manufactured using four distinct layers. These are the base layer, the fiberboard core, the decorative layer and the protective layer. It is usually made from melamine or HDF fiberboard, which is why it is particularly durable. The finish of the laminate floor can also imitate many expensive materials such as wood, concrete, natural stone or ceramics. As a result, it can be used in all styles of decor.
Laminate flooring has especially undergone a major evolution since its introduction in the 80s. Indeed, if at the beginning it had the shape of a panel that represented the same image of 2 to 3 planks glued together with joints, today it’s a whole different model! In such a way that even the most skeptical can be confused as much by the textures, colors, dimensions as by the rich finishes of the laminate flooring models found on the market.
Many people wonder why floating flooring is such a special product. Basically, it is an engineered material made from a mixture of wood dust and adhesive subjected to intense heat and pressure treatment. A laminate floor is particularly resistant and is finished with a urethane-based finish. It offers extreme resistance to scratches caused by heavy traffic, moving furniture and office chairs with casters. Not to mention animal claws, which are also the main cause of floor wear.
Laminate flooring also stands out for its ease of maintenance. And for good reason: floating floor surfaces are very easy to clean with a micro-fiber mop moistened with a cleaner specifically designed for this purpose.
In addition, it is important to note that laminate flooring is easy to install. In fact, its interlocking mechanism allows for quick and easy installation without the use of nails or glue. Moreover, a manual slice, specially designed for this purpose, makes it easy to cut the boards. And this, without noise or dust!
The budget is the first determining factor in the purchase of a laminate floor. Depending on your means and preferences, you can choose from several product lines. Just to give you an idea, an entry-level laminate floor can cost between $1 and $1.5 per square foot, a medium to high-end laminate floor costs between $1.50 and $3.00 per square foot. Note that entry-level laminate flooring may be sufficient if you have a tighter budget, especially if you have no problem with aesthetics.
As for higher-end laminate floors, with superior resistance and a choice of finish and colors, prices can go up to $3.50 per square foot. Remember that to find out the exact price according to the style you are looking for and the surface to be covered, it would be ideal to visit a store specializing in the field.
If you have a project to carry out with laminate flooring, there are a few criteria to consider. The objective is to make an informed choice and to carry out your project successfully.
There is a wide selection of wood imitations for laminate flooring on the market. If you wish to give a more conventional look to your floor, hardwoods are ideal. Coniferous woods such as pine offer a more country look. Note that among the most popular imitation choices are oak, pine, maple, cherry and silver oak. Larger budgets, on the other hand, can make more exotic choices such as aged ash, old oak and others. In all cases, it all depends on your tastes.
It is brought to your attention that the thickness of a floating floor absolutely does not make it a quality floor! Proof that there are 8 mm laminate floors of better quality than 13 mm. The difference lies rather in the fact that a thinner board will allow more dimensional possibilities in both width and length. As long as the subfloor is equal and uniform, all thicknesses will give a similar comfort effect. However, if there are irregularities in the subfloor, a thicker board may produce a better effect. So, before choosing a laminate floor, be sure to consider the right thickness for your covering.
All laminate flooring generally meets a standard of strength and durability. This is more specifically established according to test results and the materials used in manufacturing. The AC code being the indicator of resistance of laminate flooring deserves attention. Generally speaking, the higher the number following the AC code, the greater the strength of the product. Therefore, be sure to take this into account when making your decision.
For residential use where traffic is considered normal, the AC3 rating is the reference standard for a floating floor. The AC4 and AC5 ratings will ensure a higher performance that is more appropriate in commercial contexts or areas with heavier traffic. For a wear-resistant floating floor, the AC4 or AC5 rating is therefore recommended. On the other hand, to ensure that you acquire a good laminate floor for your residential projects, it would be best to focus your research on products offering an AC3 rating or higher.
Before choosing a laminate floor, it is also essential to consider the E1 standard. The fact is that particleboard used in such materials can be a source of formaldehyde, a highly volatile compound classified as a carcinogen. In particular, the E1 standard certifies a content of 8 mg or less per 100 g, which is the strict standard to date. Some materials of the same type are now able to obtain the E0 standard, i.e. without formaldehyde content, a trend that should soon be reflected in the world of laminate flooring. In the meantime, you should know that the E1 standard is already a significant and non-negligible gain for a well-compliant product.
To be sure of the quality of your laminate floor, it is also necessary to know what it is made of. HDF or High Density Fiberboard is the material preferred for a floating floor. It is a very well known and widespread material that offers a higher density of the final product. The fibers are more compressed and provide greater stability, as well as a stronger and more resistant laminate floor. It is also stronger and more resistant to pressure as well as to changes in humidity.
This is the next factor to consider when choosing a floating floor. In the majority of cases, the warranties for laminate floors are variable. They mainly indicate that the floor will not discolor and will not delaminate. What’s more, the warranty often decreases over years of use. Also, it is very rare for a user to exceed the lifetime of the warranty, for various reasons.
For residential use, you must imperatively have a guarantee. This is one way to ensure both the quality and the resistance of the laminate floor you have chosen. As a general rule, a 15- to 25-year warranty is appropriate depending on the context.
Floating or laminate floors are graded according to the color of the wood used and the presence of knots. Imitation wood with more knots generally provides a more rustic and natural look, while a more uniform wood will be more discreet and simple. In other words, it all depends on the style you are looking for in addition to the options available. Especially if you are hesitating between several finishes or floor colors, you can ask your retailer for samples. By placing them in the room where they will be installed, you will be able to make a better choice.