All about laminate flooring: Understanding your options

Woman installing laminate flooring in renovated room, close-up.

Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Laminate flooring buying guide

Laminate flooring has come a long way in recent years. Instead of a cheaper alternative to hardwood or natural stone flooring, laminate flooring is available in a spectrum of styles to offer a beautiful and long-lasting addition to any décor.When buying laminate, there are many variables to consider, such as the surface the flooring will be laid on, the room you go to, the cost, and the appearance of the space. Read on for the ultimate guide to laminate flooring, including what to consider when purchasing and installing flooring in your newly designed space.

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is sometimes referred to as a “floating floor” or “floating tile” because it can be laid over existing linoleum, subfloor, or any hard surface, including concrete, without gluing or securing it to the floor. It’s made by joining four layers of materials together, resin coated on the top and bottom.

family hanging photo logo

Get instant home decor deals!

Get connected with the home improvement coupons and promo codes you’ve been waiting for.

Laminate flooring consists of:

  • Wear layer: The wear layer is the top layer of soil which gives the entire floor a shiny, finished look. It also gives the floor much of its strength and durability. Protect the floor from pet claws, chair legs, children’s toys, and any other daily use. It also protects the printed layer from the sun’s rays, which might otherwise discolor it over time.
  • Printed layer (or decorative layer): The printed layer is what the floor looks like – the pattern or markings you see. It can look like a natural wood, stone or marble floor, and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Fiberboard layer (or core layer): High-density fibreboard (HDF) is made up of processed softwood, which is mixed with resin and wax. This layer is formed with both heat and pressure, creating panels. The panels are then cut to “fit” together, eliminating the need to attach each board to the floor or another board.
  • Backing layer: This layer helps keep the floor straight and even and is sealed to keep out moisture so the shape and stability of your floor will not be compromised from below. Some high-end laminates also include foam padding, eliminating the need for a separate underlayment for the floor.

Where to install laminate flooring

Laminate is built to be strong and robust no matter where it is installed. Still, additional steps may be necessary when installing in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. When installing below ground level (below ground level like in a basement), moisture barrier It must be installed between the concrete and the laminate to keep natural moisture away from the floor. In bathrooms, laminate can outperform hardwood for easy cleaning. But particularly in full bathrooms where humidity is common, glue should be used between laminate planks to make sure that drips or leaks in the bathroom do not get between the floorboards. For kitchens and bathrooms, silicone sealant It is also recommended when the floor hits walls, bathtubs, and toilets.

How to buy the best laminate flooring

Now you know where you can install a laminate floor, but how do you choose the best laminate floor to buy? There are a few factors to consider:

Types of laminate flooring

Laminate floors can look like anything, but they usually mimic the look of stone, tile, or wood. Although the patterns can be relatively compelling, their repetitive nature often reveals their manufactured origins. Laminate floors also come in a glueless “click” format, while other types require glue to be applied during installation. Others still come “pre-glued”, but may need the glue to be dampened when flooring is laid.

Laminate floor thickness

Available in thicknesses from 6 to 12mm, the thickness of a laminate board will determine its sound insulation, its resistance to warping over time, and how well it masks imperfections in the flooring underneath. A smooth subfloor will allow for a thinner board, while a thicker board will be necessary for more uneven floors. Generally speaking, thicker boards are more expensive to buy.

Laminate floor width

Like many other types of flooring, laminate comes in boards of various widths, ranging from 3 inches wide to 7 inches or more. What you choose will depend on price, room size, and personal preference. Smaller spaces often work well with narrower boards, both for their appearance and ease of installation, while a large, spacious room may look better with wider boards.

Laminate flooring texture

While many laminate floors offer a smooth, even surface, others are textured or embossed to more realistically mimic natural materials. Some have raised wood grain textures or have bumps like natural stone. Laminate floors are also available in an aged look to mimic antique floors. Patterns and textures can hide wear to the floor, and test sample Deep textured floors do not damage as quickly as smooth ones. Personal preference and ease of cleaning will be deciding factors in the texture you choose.

Read laminate flooring reviews

Any new apartment is a great investment in a home, so get as much information as possible before making any firm decisions. Reviews and ratings are a great way to determine the right flooring for you. In particular, look for AC (Abrasion criteria) classifications that determine the durability of the floor. It’s especially important to consider AC ratings when laying a kitchen floor, a well-used hallway, or a house entrance. AC ratings range from AC1 to AC6. Lower range AC ratings are manufactured using direct pressure laminate, while AC5 and higher are created using High pressure laminate. Generally speaking, higher traffic areas of a home should do well with an AC3 or AC4, while lower traffic areas like bedrooms may use a lower AC rating.

Laminate flooring installation

One of the reasons laminate flooring is so popular is its ease of installation. The panels are manufactured to fit together well, so DIY installers can easily lay the flooring themselves, sometimes completing an entire room in one day. To install a laminate floor, you will need the following tools:

  • circular saw
  • Puzzle
  • Hammer
  • Tapping block

Depending on the space, a miter saw might also come in handy for cutting the wood panels into shape.Professionals can also install the flooring at minimal cost because the panels install very quickly. Generally speaking, installation can cost around $ 2 to $ 3 per square foot.

Man laying laminate floor planks.  The oak effect planks are laid on an insulating foam base.

esp_imaging / Getty Images

Compare the cost of laminate flooring

Laminate floors range from $ 3 per square foot to about $ 7 installed, while the floor can only range from $ 1 to $ 5 per square foot. Factors influencing the price are the thickness and AC rating of the planks, if the floor has pre-installed subfloor or no subfloor and by brand. Pergo Y Mannington flooring, for example, will generally cost you more than laminate flooring from Shaw.

Main brands of laminate flooring


Pergo manufactures laminate, rigid vinyl, and hardwood floors that are widely available. Pergo floors are known to be extra hard, with superior resistance to wear, scratches and water. The company has been manufacturing laminates for more than four decades and its main lines are:

  • TimberCraft
  • Survive
  • briefcase

TimberCraft is a realistic wood-look panel that is completely waterproof, making it well suited for areas of the home at risk of getting wet.


Mohawk is a flooring brand that has been around since 1878. Their RevWood Plus flooring series is coated with Hydroseal, a waterproof and scratch resistant coating. You can opt for All Pet Plus protection (an additional warranty available) to cover accidents and pet damage. Mohawk’s best known laminate lines are:


Mannington takes a step towards more environmentally friendly flooring manufacturing. Laminate I is 70% made from recycled materials, and the company also awards its floors FloorScore® Certification for a better quality of the air inside the home. Its laminating lines are:

  • Restoration
  • Revolution board

The Mannington Restoration Collection comes in a great selection of colors and features. SpillShield®Plus waterproof technology.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button