The traditional look of hardwood flooring is timeless; its beauty has brought a sense of comfort and elegance to homes around the world for many generations. Hardwood floors are however pricey, not very durable and require a fair amount of routine maintenance and care. Even the most recent technological advancements in surface treatment have not been able to solve such problems as scratching, fading, denting and staining. This has lead to the invention of laminate flooring. With its machine made construction and hardwood photographic laminated surface, laminate flooring is the perfect solution for the look and appeal of real hardwood floors that are more durable and require less maintenance.
Since the introduction of laminate flooring into the US in 1982, the sector has experienced growth of up to 20% per annum at the expense of other flooring types, making laminate flooring the fastest growing flooring type in the country. Its appeal lies not only in its aesthetic value of its representation of real hardwood, but also due to its incredible durability and ease of maintenance. Laminate flooring is built to withstand the rigors of today’s active lifestyles.
Unlike hardwood, laminate flooring will not stain, fade, dent and is far more scratch and water resistant. Laminate warranties range from 10 years to lifetime and cover such factors as mentioned above. Entry level laminates are designed for light traffic areas and come with warranties ranging from 10 to 15 years. Most people set their expectations too high and expect that an entry level laminate will perform under heavy traffic conditions and still look good for the duration of the warranty. This is however not the case, as an entry level laminate subject to high traffic will start to show wear and tear within three to five years.
Buying the laminate flooring that suits your needs will save you money in the long run. This is not to say that every home requires a high end laminate with an extensive warranty. Consider the amount of traffic as well as the amount of time you intend staying in your current home. There is no point in purchasing an expensive floor with an extended warranty if you plan on moving in the near future. Remember, flooring is usually the first thing replaced by people when moving to a new home.
Laminate floors come with cores ranging from 6mm up to 12mm. A thicker core is more stable, less vulnerable to buckling and will sound more like real hardwood when walked on. Good quality laminate cores are treated with water repellent chemicals, and resist swelling due to excessive moisture. This is very important especially when considering placing laminate floors in bathrooms and kitchens. For these applications also consider a laminate that has Paraffin wax impregnated joints. The Paraffin wax acts as a water repellent and will prevent topical water spills from penetrating down to the laminate core. Also remember to scrutinize the warranty, as certain laminate floors are not covered for use in bathrooms and kitchens.
The introduction of glueless locking mechanisms has opened the door to the DIY market. The absence of glue allows for a quicker installation and easier repair, and unlike other flooring materials that require specialist knowledge and equipment, these floors can be installed by people with no prior experience and no specialized tools. The ability to install the floor without having to hire an installer will save you a considerable amount of money.