Wood laminate flooring offers homeowners the look and even the feel of real hardwood flooring at a much lower price. Pick your favorite tree and a laminate version of its wood likely exists. In the past, laminates were quite obviously not real wood. Today, the many styles and options of wood laminate are nearly impossible to tell from the real thing.
In addition to its lower cost, many people like the versatility and durability of laminate flooring, which stands up to large dogs and heavy furniture better than softer wood flooring options do. Even hardwood flooring is susceptible to dents and scratches without proper care.
The Construction of Wood Laminate
Wood laminate consists of four layers:
- The bottom layer, comprised of melamine. It provides stability.
- The core layer of high-density fiberboard gives the flooring extra strength and greater stability.
- The visual layer is essentially a photograph, rendered in high detail, of the buyer’s chosen wood product. This gives the laminate the appearance of real wood.
- The top finishing layer protects the flooring from regular wear and tear, staining, fading, and surface damage such as scratching.
Heat and pressure fuse each layer together, creating a strong, durable flooring option. Pieces lock together via a tongue-and-groove connecting system.
To minimize shrinkage, allow laminate flooring to sit, unopened, for two to three days in the room intended for installation. Next, clean the installation surface, sweeping it free of debris.
Laminate installation requires an underlayment between the flooring and the subfloor. Some laminates include the underlayment, but not all. This protective layer offers a number of benefits, such as absorbing imperfections in the subfloor, softening impact, and reducing noise. Some underlayment options also include a moisture barrier, ideal for moisture-prone areas such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.
If there is no moisture barrier, create your own using plastic lining. Before laying down the underlayment, cover the floor with the plastic lining, overlapping if necessary and taping edges together. Cover the entire floor, leaving no gaps or spaces, running it up the walls but not above the baseboard.
If the home’s current, non-carpeted flooring is level, it makes an acceptable surface for wood laminate flooring.
Maintaining Wood Laminate Flooring
This flooring is easy to care for and resists stains and fading, but it is not indestructible. It will scratch, so take care, because scratches and chips are irreparable. Buy extra laminate pieces and save them so you can replace damaged pieces.
You never need to polish or wax laminate flooring, and mopping is discouraged. Sweeping and dusting with a dry microfiber mop keeps it clean. Running the vacuum on the bare floor setting sucks up dust from between the planks. Wipe up spills right away and your wood laminate flooring lasts for years.