Made from layered composite wood to resemble the appearance and feel of real wood floors, wood laminate flooring is less expensive, boasts better durability, and is easier to clean than genuine hardwood floors.
If you are busy with home improvements, read on to discover what to consider in choosing the floor surface, which flooring options are best for high traffic areas and bedrooms, and which brands and wood laminate flooring options stand out for performance and high quality.
Not all wood-like laminates are equal. Although they may appear similar upon the first inspection, differences in thickness and other factors affect the strength, durability and applications of these products. So, let’s help you get started with an overview of the top factors to consider if you want to find the best product among the laminate flooring options.
For high traffic areas, you want a thicker plank to provide the necessary foot support. The strength of the floor surface is directly related to the thickness. If you want to lay the flooring in a high-traffic office environment, choose a product graded for commercial use.
For high-traffic residential areas, select one graded for heavy residential use. If the planks are to be installed in the kitchen or bathroom, choose one that is water- or spill-resistant (Note that these are more expensive). For the kitchen and bathroom areas, invest in luxury vinyl tiles or rigid board that can handle the moisture and water spill risks associated with kitchens, laundries and bathrooms.
Wood laminates have a protective top layer, but the products have a wood core and the bottom parts of the planks don’t have the same protective layers. It is thus possible for moisture from below to affect the integrity of the planks.
If you do want to install the wood laminates in the kitchen or bathroom areas, invest in proper underlay to protect from moisture that seeps from the sub-surface. The underlay also provides adequate support to the planks, helps to reduce noise emission, and creates a warmer and softer underfoot. View this video on how to choose the best underlay for wood laminate flooring.
The correct choice of moisture barrier is what makes the difference between having a long-lasting floor surface and one that has to be replaced within a few years. Here’s why the extra spending on the underlay starts to make sense. It’s not just salesman’s talk. With a professional team to handle the installation, you have the assurance of adequate provision for gaps to allow for expansion and contraction of the planks with temperature fluctuations.
You will notice terms such as direct or high pressure in the product specifications. Direct pressure is indicated with DPL. This type has four layers instead of five as is the case with the high-pressure types. The four layers consist of the stabilising, core, decorative and wear layers. The DPL types are suitable for residential use. The commercial wood laminate flooring is depicted as HPL and has an extra resin-treated layer. The pressure against which these layers are formed is also higher than with the DPL, giving extra strength to the flooring for improved heat, dent, moisture, scratch and pressure handling capacity. You can expect to pay more for these, which are usually for heavy residential or commercial use.
The thickness of the flooring is directly responsible for the strength of the floor surface. The thicker it is, the more traffic and pressure it can handle. Thicker flooring is also better at absorbing noise. At the upper end of the scale, you have 12 mm thickness. Note whether the thickness stated in the supplier’s product specification includes the underlay or only the plank or tile. Thicker wood laminates provide better cover of uneven sub-floor areas. These planks can handle bends better and are less likely to break because of uneven sub-floor sections.
Wood laminate flooring has an AC rating as explained in this video. This is the rating that shows how the floor matches specific abrasion criteria. The AC rating works from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. AC3 is best suited for residential areas such as bedrooms with AC4 able to withstand more traffic and abrasion as needed in kitchens and bathrooms. AC4 and AC5 floors are suitable for commercial use as well. View this video that explains how the AC rating system applies to laminate wood flooring.
The length and width of the laminate planks differ. Wider planks can be more difficult to install because the snapping together of the sections can be more challenging. Wider planks are more prone to gaps forming when the sub-floor is uneven. Smaller planks are better suited for small areas, with the wider types best for large areas such as living rooms or offices. See this video to learn which is better – narrow or wide?
Although you can buy wood laminate flooring at DIY centres, it is best to have the planks installed by professionals. Aspects such as humidity, temperature fluctuations, sub-floor treatment and trimming must be considered. From floating floors to glue and nail-down types are available. Floating floors cannot be installed over carpeting. You will also need to consider the cost and type of the underlay.
Some brands such as Pergo, Finfloor, and Designer Collection are well-established and already reputed for good quality products. But don’t be fooled by thinking that all brand names are equal. You need to consider the product warranty and the company’s reputation for sticking to its warranty commitments. Here is a useful buyer’s guide video that can help you determine which is the best laminate flooring.
Here’s the deal – the thickness, AC rating, where you will install the floor, the product guarantee, width of the plank, size of the room and more are factors to consider. Rather than choosing a laminate flooring solution only based on brand, instead get expert guidance on the best wood laminate flooring for your particular traffic, location, appearance, stain resistance and moisture handling needs. Click 👉 here to request a quote and one of our carpet and flooring experts will give you a call back within 24hrs.