Laminate flooring looks great and stands up to scratches and dents. It looks like real hardwood or tile flooring without the cost, and is available in a number of different styles including oak, walnut, hickory, maple and even slate.
Laminate flooring is a synthetic product made of several layers that are sealed together in the "lamination" process. Designed to be affordable and durable, laminate flooring consists of four distinct components: a wear layer, a decor layer, a core layer and a backer layer.
The wear layer is filled with aluminum oxide. This layer helps resist scratches from daily wear, creates an easy-to-clean surface, and maintains a fade- and stain-resistant appearance.
The decor layer is a printed image that recreates the natural look of wood, tile or stone.
The core layer gives laminate its structure and dent-resistant properties. Laminate flooring is much more resistant to dents than real hardwood flooring.
The final backer layer provides additional support and stability.
Consider these key features to help you choose the right laminate for your home.
Laminate flooring is typically available in 7-millimeter, 8-millimeter, 10-millimeter and 12-millimeter thicknesses. When you compare laminate, keep in mind that some manufacturers include the thickness of the product including the core and attached pad.
All laminates provide a similar level of dent resistance; however, thicker laminate is better suited to resist bending caused by uneven areas in your subfloor. Thicker laminate can also help reduce noise.
This rating is a representation of laminate’s resistance to wear on a 1 to 5 scale. The higher the AC rating, the higher the durability:
Some products already have an acoustical pad attached to make installation easier. See Underlayment below for more information.
Laminate flooring is available in many types of textures and finishes to simulate the look of real hardwood flooring.
Underlayment is typically available in 100-square-foot rolls and can provide moisture protection, improve sound suppression and eliminate minor subfloor imperfections. Underlayment with a moisture barrier is required when installing laminate over concrete subfloors at or below ground level, as moisture passing through the subfloor can cause your floor to expand, creating issues like cupping, gapping and squeaking. Follow the flooring manufacturer’s instructions for moisture protection.
Underlayment can provide sound suppression through acoustical padding measure by IIC (Impact Insulation Class) and STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings: The higher the rating, the better the sound absorption. These ratings are measured with or without a sound-absorbing acoustical ceiling (skewing the scores higher), so be sure to compare apples to apples. Underlayment also has the ability to mask minor subfloor imperfections. Larger imperfections outside the flooring manufacturer’s tolerances for levelness need to be addressed appropriately.
Some laminate floors have acoustical pads already attached to the product. Although the attached pad can make installation easier, these pads aren't moisture barriers.
Watch our video on preparing your subfloor to prepare for laminate flooring installation.
Matching and coordinating moulding / millwork pieces are available, including quarter rounds, T-mouldings, thresholds, reducers and wallbase.
Help protect your laminate flooring investment by following the below care and maintenance tips:
Ready to get started? Learn how to install a laminate or engineered hardwood floor.