Laminate Floors are easy to keep clean, are relatively cheap compared to the real thing, and for the most part are also fairly hard wearing, depending on the type of wood you choose.
Just about everyone these days wants a real hardwood floor somewhere in the house.
The problem has always been cost, and the fact that a fair amount of work is involved with laying and choosing laminate flooring.
Enter laminate flooring - Today's machine made laminates are made to precise machining standards to ensure that your floor looks professional even though you can easily do-it-yourself. Just about all laminate floors these days are fairly true to the original flooring surface, whether it be real wood, tile, stone or many other realistic surface finishes which doesn't make how to choose laminate flooring an easy task.
It is no wonder then, that laminate flooring is so popular around the world and especially so in the U.S. and U.K. Most laminate floor finishes are treated with a low sheen finish that helps to protect the surface from scratches and general wear. You can if desired add a further surface finish, but personally I consider the as-it-comes look to be satisfactory.
While choosing laminate flooring always ask your flooring retailer about the warranties that come with the floor. Most are for 10 years, but some may be longer.
Also, if you intend to fit the floor yourself, ask about any special conditions in the warranty that may be affected if you do fit it. Sometimes the small print may be hard to decipher so ask the salesperson to go through the written warranty with you - you can't be too careful!
When choosing laminate flooring take into consideration the amount of traffic it will have to contend with and adjust your budget accordingly. Cheaper laminate floors may not wear particularly well in high-traffic areas so beware. If you do buy a cheaper flooring option for a high-traffic zone, be prepared to see wear within 3 to 5 years, far sooner than would be seen in a higher priced floor.Also consider how long you intend to live in your current house. There is no point in spending a fortune if you won't benefit from it. People love to change things in a new home and your expensive floor may be the first thing to go - so price accordingly.
If you like the thought of a real hardwood floor but can't warrant the price, consider a laminate that is thicker than normal. Laminate flooring comes in various thicknesses, normally between 6mm and 12mm. Go for the thicker variety to give a look and sound (yes, it will sound more solid), and keep your visitors guessing!
For wet areas laminates that have been treated in some way are more suitable. Various factory treatments are available that will repel any water ingress to the wood and prolong the life of the material. Make sure that the edges have been especially well treated as this is where any moisture will penetrate first. Be aware that some manufactureres will not offer a warranty on floors laid in wet areas - again, ask your retailer.
If you intend to fit the floor yourself, as long as you have reasonable DIY skills you really should have no problems. Always ensure that the sub-floor surface is flat and there aren't any lumps or bumps. Check out our How to Install Laminate Flooring guide for a general outline of the process. The click-together flooring made today makes it a very easy task to do well, so don't be afraid to have a go.