What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring has been around since 1977 when it was invented and sold under the brand name Pergo. The fundamental thing to remember about laminate flooring is that the surface of it - its color or pattern which would most commonly be of a variety of wood species is actually a photograph so it could just as easily be stone, tiles or indeed anything.
This photographic layer has then been bonded to either a MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) or HDF (High Density Fiberboard) board that is reinforced with specialist resins which forms the core part of the laminate flooring. The lamination process used can involve incredibly high pressures, temperatures or both.
Again, using the appropriate lamination process, a clear, highly durable layer is bonded on top of the photographic design layer. This protects the floor from scratches and abrasive wear caused by daily use. This is also the layer that gets cleaned and whilst most laminate flooring can be cleaned with regular floor cleaning products, it is always worth checking the manufacturer instructions and recommendations, just in case a specialist cleaning product is required.
Often, there will be a fourth layer called the backing layer on the bottom of the board. The purpose of this layer is to protect the core from the ingress of water and moisture which can cause the boards to warp and buckle. If this does happen, it can incur costly repairs.
The main advantages and therefore what many people find attractive about going with a laminate flooring option include:
- Cost - Laminate flooring is always going to be a cheaper option than solid wood or engineered wood flooring, if you want to know how cost compares with quality please read our guide.
- Ease of installation – Laminate flooring is, quite easily, installed by anyone with some basic skills in Do-It-Yourself
- Durability – Despite being man made from not entirely natural materials, laminate flooring is, in fact, incredibly durable and will often be guaranteed with warranties between 15 and 30 years
- Consistency – Real solid wood and engineered wood floors will have a natural variation in color and grain and whilst this may be desired, in cases where absolute consistency is a requirement, laminate flooring is the only way to achieve this.
Most laminate flooring these days is made with an easy locking system that needs no adhesive. This contributes to the ease with which it can be laid. This also means that it is laid using the floating installation method. Meaning, that it is not directly attached to the floor in anyway but sits on top of an underlay with the fact that it is locked together, holding it in place. This also adds to the ease with which the installation procedure can be carried out.
The only negative opinions you may hear about laminate flooring from time to time will be to do with the fact that it is artificial or fake. However, this is borne out of a rather elitist attitude and in many cases such as for use: in bathrooms or with under floor heating systems it may, in fact be the best choice.