Laminate flooring is relatively new to us in the U.S. Laminate flooring has been used for years in homes and businesses in Europe. Laminate flooring is a hard flooring surface which is actually layered during manufacture. A laminate floor consists of a top wear layer, which is generally aluminum oxide, which is very long lasting, a print layer which is the pattern of your choice (hardwood or ceramic), an inner core, and a backing, which are fused together. The choices available in laminate flooring today are astounding. Laminate floors can be made to resemble almost any other type of floor surface, with the most popular being hardwood and ceramic tile.
Many manufacturers today offer laminate hardwood flooring, which is hard to tell from the real thing. However, care is where laminate flooring is king. Laminates are extremely durable, however care must be taken not to let them get over wet as some paper backings are not as durable as others. Some manufacturers will not cover laminate flooring that is installed in a bathroom.
Laminate floors are what installers consider “floating flooring”. Unlike vinyl or linoleum laminate floors are not attached to the sub floor. Laminate floors come as tongue and groove plants which are fastened to each other with adhesive. Depending on the under layer of flooring some laminate floors can be installed right over existing floors of wood, vinyl, linoleum or tile. Laminate flooring cannot be installed over carpeting.
Most major floor manufacturers today carry laminate flooring, such as Armstrong, Pergo, Mohawk, Mannington and Bruce.
As with choosing any flooring for your home there are general considerations; what is your interior scheme? Do you want a light floor or dark floor? Light hardwood flooring is generally used in more relaxed and country atmospheres, where dark colored hardwood flooring is used in more formal homes. Patterned flooring that has grains or other types of shading will not show dirt as quickly as solid flooring will. Dark floors will make a room look smaller, light flooring will make a room look larger.
Laminate floors are very easy to care. As always you will want to read the manufacturers instructions. Generally they only need a vacuum and slightly damp mopping. Do not over apply water which can seep through the cracks in the floor and behind baseboards and cause damage. Laminate flooring does not need any wax or floor finish applied to it.