When choosing your laminate floor it is important to understand what you get for your money and why some products are more expensive than others.
The reason there is a price difference on laminate flooring is usually down to a couple of factors which are the style of flooring and the material used in the manufacturing process.
As a rule of thumb, the most expensive floors have the better locking systems which make them easier to fit and they also have the thicker, longer lasting wear layer - please keep reading to get more detail!
The actual board that the laminate is printed onto is quite important. There are several factors too look for.
The first is what the board is made from. If the board is made from MDF (medium density fibre board) then it would be weaker than buying a board from HDF. (heavy density fibre board)
The second factor is the thickness. Laminate flooring starts at 6 mm and will usually go as high as 12 mm. The thicker the board the more expensive the laminate would be. This does not mean that a 12 mm board is of better quality than a 7 mm board. The quality is usually down to the amount of wear layer that is sprayed over the pattern/décor.
The way a laminate floor locks together is important. There are different locking systems that each has their own laying techniques.
This system requires a row of boards to be fitted end to end, and then for the whole row to be locked onto the previous row together (can require 2 people to use this system).
This system is easier and quicker to install, each board is laid the longest side first, keeping the end aligned, the ends simply are pushed down which automatically locks via a small strip on the end. The 5G system is slightly more expensive than the Valinge system as the manufacturing process with the locking strip cost more.
This is a simple locking system. The board can either be locked in by putting the boards at an angle and then pushing the boards down or the boards can be put side to side and tapped together with a tapping block. This system is the most expensive as the inventors of the system charge a licence fee for other companies to use it.
The more expensive laminates usually have a bevel or a groove all the way around each plank.
The manufacturing process costs more for this type of laminate.
There are 2 way groove/bevel, which have the bevel on the sides only giving the appearance of a continual plank.
The 4 way groove/bevel has a groove all of the way around each plank to make it look authentic to a solid wood floor.
Higher costs of laminate flooring can also be down to the types of pattern. This can be production costs or even down to marketing costs.
The usual way a pattern is put onto the backing board was a paper with a photograph of wood floors stuck onto the backing board then the laminate sprayed over the top.
There are some new techniques that have been introduced such as registered embossing; this is where there is a texture put onto the board with the pattern following the contours. The laminate is then sprayed on.
The more intricate the embossing or pattern is the more the manufacturing costs are.
This is probably one of the most important components of a laminate floor as the top layer determines how long the flooring will last. The better the topcoat the more the manufacturing costs are.
The polyurethane coating is the wear barrier before you get to the pattern. If this barrier wears through then the laminate is worn out.
The better the coating you have the longer the manufacturers guarantee should be.
Brand names do not always mean that the floor is of a higher quality. Some of the extra cost involved is for the cost of marketing the brand name. The bigger the name the more you are paying for marketing and brand awareness.
All manufacturers have a basic range with usually a ten year guarantee. They will also have a premium range of a higher quality with a much longer guarantee.