Laminate is one of the most preferred flooring options for most homeowners these days. This is mostly due to its immense durability, water resistance, attractive look, and high affordability. As a matter of fact, it comes in a wide variety of options in terms of patterns, sizes, colors, and designs. Laminated floor panels that mimic the rich look and feel of wood are also available.
Before choosing Laminate Flooring, however, it is important to understand a few things about this flooring option. For starters, you’d want to familiarize yourself with what laminate is first, to avoid getting scammed when you approach the market. Additionally, it is important to understand the best places to use laminate, and know some of its advantages over other options in detail before deciding to invest in this type of flooring. In other words, you’ll want to know what to look for when buying laminate flooring. And last but not least, it is important to conduct some research on the best laminate floor brands for you to choose the best. This brings us to the main agenda of this article. Here’s your comprehensive laminate flooring buying guide, along with a list of the top 5 best laminate flooring options for your home.
Understanding Laminate Flooring
Laminate floor is a type of home flooring choices made using a composite material (mostly compressed wood products) that mimics the look of high-end hardwood. It resembles hardwood flooring so much that only the keen eye will notice the difference, which is that in laminate, the patterns a repetitive and look more artificial, unlike in natural hardwoods where the beautiful grains have a more natural look and feel. As mentioned earlier on, laminate floors are highly preferred due to their water resistance and durable characteristics. In most instances, however, laminate floor panels consist of several layers composed of different materials depending on the particular brand you go for. But why exactly should you go with laminate for your home flooring?
Advantages of Laminate Floors
Laminate flooring presents more than just a few advantages to the homeowner as well as the installation technician. For this reason, Laminate is one of the most popular materials used in the modern construction industry. Here are some of the most significant advantages of choosing laminate flooring.
- Water resistance – When it comes to water resistance, laminate floors are fairly triumphant over other flooring options such as woods. This makes it suitable for use not only in the living room and bedrooms but also for passageways and even the kitchen. This property is enabled by the plastic-like outer surface of the laminate floorboards.
- Ease of installation and maintenance – Laminate is also fairly easy to work with during installation, even for the DIYers. It is also fairly easy to clean and maintain.
- Esthetic appeal – This type of flooring comes in a wide variety of options that you can choose to complement the rest of your interior décor. There’s also a huge variety of patterns to choose from, meaning that you can choose a floor that mimics literally any type of hardwood floor you can find on the market.
- Comfortable – Compared to other options such as concrete and tile flooring, Laminate is more comfortable to walk on barefooted. It also won’t produce as much noise as wooden flooring to walk on.
- Cost-effectiveness – The fact that laminate is fairly inexpensive is perhaps the most significant benefits of all. This means that you can renovate or remodel your home without dealing with a giant budget. On average, you will spend about half as much as you’d have spent on a hardwood floor to purchase and install a laminate floor.
- Durability – last but not least, laminates are also fairly durable and easy to maintain compared to some other flooring alternatives. It may not be completely waterproof to suit installation in the bathroom, but it is still a superb material that is worth investing in for installation in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, guest rooms, dining rooms, and other areas in the home where exposure to water is low to moderate. As a matter of fact, high-quality laminate floors are more durable than hardwood, since it is more resistant to scratches, wear and tear, and moisture.
Things to Look for in Laminate Flooring
Most homeowners make one dire mistake when purchasing laminate flooring – they choose entirely based on the cost and the looks. Well, while both of these are important, there are other important factors that determine whether or not you make the right investment decision. You don’t want to be forced to remodel your floor only a few years down the line just because you underestimated the important factors. Below are a few important things to consider when choosing laminate flooring.
- Board thickness
Board thickness is one of the most important things when choosing laminate flooring. Thicker laminate boards tend to be more durable and less noisy to walk on. They give your floor a certain kind of realism that thinner boards won’t. It’s best to choose laminate flooring boards that come with their own under-layer along with a padding material. For the best experience, the under-layer or core should be at least 12mm thick or more.
- The photographic layer
The photographic layer is the layer beneath the topmost plastic coating of your laminate flooring. It goes a long way in determining the look and feel of your floor after installation is complete. While regular laminate flooring boards come with repetitive patterns printed on top of the layer to mimic the look of hardwood. However, there are high-end versions that actually feature the real pictorial look of natural hardwood flooring. It is extremely difficult for the average person to tell the difference.
- The ease of installation
As pointed out earlier above, laminate floors are fairly easy to install compared to most other options. Some of the best laminate flooring boards require a simple groove-and-slot method of installation. However, not all of them may provide this convenience feature, which is what makes your installation job quick and easy. Stay away from brands that don’t offer you this benefit.
- AC rating
The AC rating feature that measures the floor’s resistance to a number of factors, some of which include scratching, swelling, burning, and staining. Your laminate flooring will be rated from AC1 to AC 5 depending on its resistance to these factors. For homes, AC2 and AC3 would do. However, AC1 flooring can also do for moderate residential usage in areas such as closets and bedrooms.
Laminate flooring costs vary from one brand to the other. Even though it’s not advisable to make your final decision solely based on cost, it’s best to do your comparisons before making your purchase. Most importantly, consider the price to quality ratio along with the previous factors and you’ll be good to go.
- Product warranty
It is also important to consider the product warranty; just in case the product comes with a defect from the manufacturer or disappoints you a few months or years down the line. Some of the best brands carry warranties that exceed just a few years, maybe a decade or more.
Now that you have all the nitty-gritty details about choosing laminate flooring, it’s time to ease your search.
As promised earlier on at the beginning of the article, here are the top 5 best laminate flooring options (by brand) for your home according to our expert analysts so let’s start the countdown.
This is one of the most popular brands for diversity in the laminate flooring market. Besides diversity, another upside is that their boards are incredibly easy to install, thanks to the built-in under-layer that their boards come with. They also provide an array of unique patterns that you’ll rarely find elsewhere in the industry apart from the real hardwood market. Thanks to their huge collection, BerryAlloc offers products ranging from low to moderate prices. As a matter of fact, theirs are one of the fairest-priced laminate floorboards on the market. Provided you have the average budget for your standard laminate flooring boards, higher chances are that you’ll always walk out with something that suits you. You can take a look at what they have to offer on their official website to see if they have something for you.
4. Quick Step
if you’re looking to stay abreast with the latest trends in the laminate flooring market, Quick Step can be a great place to look. They tend to be the most technologically advanced laminate flooring manufacturers, especially specializing in laminate boards and molding for both conventional and modular homes. Quick Step laminate boards are known to be highly resistant to buckling and rising from the effects of the elements. This resistance is enabled by the fact that direct pressure is used during the pressing procedure to maintain a perfect balance. They stand out from the rest of the crowd by being ahead technologically, providing versatile molding options, and offering significantly cheaper laminate flooring options.
Mohawk is another top-ranking brand that has dominated the laminate flooring industry as well. Their laminate boards are known to be arguably the best when it comes to resistance to things such as scratches, staining, and water damage. If you’re a friend of the environment, you’ll have made an ethical choice by going for Mohawk laminate flooring since their products are at least 50% from recycled material. The only huge downside is that you’ll have to add at least a few tens or hundreds of bucks more to your laminate flooring budget when you decide to go with Mohawk. Nonetheless, with proper maintenance, the durability speaks for itself, and so does the overall quality, beauty, and realism.
As the name suggests, Armstrong is an immensely strong name as far as laminate flooring is concerned. For starters, their offerings come ins a wide variety of patterns and colors that you can easily choose from to complete your décor and suit your preferences. Whether you prefer a rustic, blackened oak, antique, or exotic look, you’ll almost always find something to meet your home’s aesthetic needs from the Armstrong collection of laminate flooring. They are also extremely unique when it comes to the ease of installation. This is because their laminate boards come with a state-of-the-art patented locking system that you won’t find in other laminate flooring options. In addition to laminate floorboards, they also provide an array of matching trim and other finishing pieces, making it easier for you to complete your floor’s décor without seating it much. In addition to the superb look, Armstrong laminate flooring boards are also very convenient in many aspects. Despite being fairly pricey, they are one of the best options for the aesthetically and durability-oriented individuals who want a good alternative to using hardwood flooring.
according to most laminate flooring reviewers online, Pergo is one of the most popular brands by experience. As a matter of fact, most people consider them to be the original thing – no wonder they’re considered the inventors of laminate flooring. They are also specialists in other artistic designs, not to mention their huge focus on artificial flooring. If you’re looking for something that will with no doubt not disappoint you, Pergo is one of the best options you have when you need to install new laminate flooring in your home. In addition to having a collection of amazing quality laminate flooring, they also offer an amazing array of matching trim and molding, just like Armstrong. The downside is that Pergo laminate tends to be the most expensive option, even though most people find them to be more worthy to invest in.
There are many different types of flooring, and that is for a fact. The other fact is that laminate flooring is superior to most other alternatives you can find on the market. However, choosing the best option for your home will depend on how keen you are on the factors discussed above. Considering the thickness, the photographic layer (patterns and color), the cost, warranty, AC rating, and the ease of installation will ease your selection process and probably make it more fun while providing you with a learning opportunity. Nonetheless, the above top 5 brand options can help minimize the time and effort you spend researching online. If you’re looking for the best option overall, Pergo can be an amazing choice for you. On the other hand, BerryAlloc can be your best choices when you need a less expensive option that you can rely on for your home flooring.