Read About Laminate Flooring
A laminate floor is the “Cinderella” of flooring. Once the ignored and disadvantaged sister, its reputation has soared in recent years. A relatively new invention in flooring, it has edged itself onto the competitive flooring market as a strong alternative to wood and stone flooring.
There are several benefits of laminate flooring. Those benefits can be significant to lifestyle and pocketbook.
The interlocking system of the panels make them very easy to install. All you have to do is lay down an underlayment and click one piece into the next. There is no glue or adhesive needed.
Laminate flooring is one of the most economical choices on the flooring market. A laminate floor is generally cheaper than stone or wood, even at its entry-level price point. Easy installation can mean significant savings in labor costs if you are paying a professional. Like with most things, you will pay more for quality. As you go up in quality, laminate prices go up. However, laminates offer advantages and versatility that you will not find in other flooring material.
Laminate floors can very accurately mimic the look (and some of the texture) of real wood or stone. You can have the look of either floor without the corresponding higher price tag. Interestingly, the advancements in photography and printing have helped the resurgence of laminate floors. The appearance of the laminate layer (the top layer) is created using high-resolution photography. It can be difficult to tell the difference in appearance between good, quality laminate and a hardwood floor or stone tile.
Laminate floors are far less likely to become damaged and are highly resistant. It will not scratch or scuff easily. It is far more resistant to moisture than wood, making it very friendly to spills. Even wines will not have much of an impact because it does not stain easily. It is also resistant to mold and mildew, an advantage to those with asthma or allergies. It is an ideal flooring option for high-traffic areas and in spaces frequented by children. Some of the top brands today are European-born. The practical, but style-savvy Europeans easily embraced laminate’s resistance to scratching and scuffing while it still looked stylish or elegant without a hefty price tag.
Laminate floors are exceptionally easy to clean compared to wood or stone. Because they are not as delicate as either of its pricier sisters, you can easily dust and mop them without having to worry that you will damage or scratch them.
The Layers of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is made up of four individual layers that are fused together to make one unified piece. The first layer consists of a melamine material that provides a barrier against moisture and ensures structural integrity and stability. The core-board, or second layer, is made of compressed wood fibers used to create a dense inner layer. Melamine appears again in the third layer and provides the floor with the laminate appearance that highlights the underlying flooring image, which can be anything from natural hardwood to stone or ceramic tile.
The fourth and final layer also contains melamine and provides a tough, beautiful finish that is resistant to stain, wear and other factors that cause the appearance to fade. Sometimes this layer is reinforced with aluminum oxide, an extremely hard mineral compound that can increase the laminate’s resistance to stains, surface moisture and wearing and fading.
Laminate Flooring Installation Tips:
With the popularity of laminate floor increasing, no serious do-it-yourself flooring manual would be complete without some tips for installing laminate flooring. Thankfully with the advance of snap-together flooring technology, installation on concrete or even stairs has been made significantly easier.
The the Floor Plank AC Rating
You want to make sure that your new floor can withstand the rigors of the home. Between moving furniture, foot traffic, spills and other accidents, you need to know that your laminate flooring will not scratch or dent easily. The AC rating, with stands for Abrasion Class, is the measure of durability for laminate floors. If you come across cheap flooring without this rating, do not even bother buying it. You want to make sure that your investment in a new floor will last. AC ratings are summarized below:
• AC1 – designed for lighter traffic areas like the bedroom
• AC2 – suitable for living rooms or dining rooms
• AC3 – best for the highest traffic residential areas and suitable for commercial use
• AC4 – more durable and designed for use in office and commercial settings
• AC5 – the most durable rating, for floors in public buildings and department stores
Orientation is Critical
Floors should be installed using a wall as a guide, but before you start, you need to make sure the walls themselves are straight. If you begin your project without a straight wall, you will quickly run into problems. Similarly, before you begin your project, find out which way the light is shining through your windows. You want the floors to be aligned parallel with the light source for the best aesthetic result. Most manufacturers will recommend that you complete a few rows and let them sit for an hour before completing your project, just to check that everything is aligned correctly.
Find Out Whether to Use Glue
Most modern laminate floor is referred to as “floating,” meaning that you will not be gluing it to the subfloor. However, some home technicians recommend adding glue between each floor plank. This adds to the durability and also offers protection from moisture. It will definitely add work to your project, but in most cases, if you are willing to put the effort into gluing each plank, your investment will pay off, adding longevity to your floor. It’s best to consult with your hardware store about whether gluing is the best option for the floor you’ve chosen.
If you plan to use the floor in a bathroom or other moisture prone area, glue will most likely be recommended. This will discourage moisture from settling in the middle of the planks, causing them to swell and buckle.
Also, it should be noted that in many cases, flooring planks should be glued to the subfloor if they are being installed on stairs.
Use Extra Planks for Practice
Most likely you will need to cut your planks to the size of your room. Depending on the type of saw you use, you may need to place the finished side up or down. It’s best to practice sawing on some extra planks before you start your project, to make sure you feel comfortable and find out which method is best for your flooring. A common complaint among first-time installers is that planks chip upon installation. Practicing with some extra flooring will also allow you to practice, minimizing any chipping.
Consider the Floor Composition
Thickness of the plank is not the only factor in determining durability. The density of the plank core is a better gauge as to its ability to withstand dents or rips. Resistance to scratches and scuff is determined by the finish on the outside, or “wear” layer. Urethane is a common finishing agent and highly durable. By looking at both the core and the wear layer, you can determine the overall durability of your potential laminate choice.