What Is the Best Laminate Flooring for Your Home?

Laminate looks like a natural wood floor but in actuality it is a picture, under a tough protective film that is glued to high density fiberboard. The best laminate flooring is durable, resistant, economical and easy to install. Laminate flooring mimics natural materials such as hardwood, stone or ceramic tile.

Laminate was first introduced by Pergo, which was followed by the American firms of Wilson Art and Formica. There are now a number of firms manufacturing this type of flooring including Finsa, Balta, Rustic Elegance, Old Homestead, Mannington, Alloc, BHK, and Armstrong.

To find the best flooring for your home, our advice is to shop locally and ask questions. Determine how much traffic you have in the rooms that you are remodeling, what look you are going for, and what you are prepared to pay.

Entry level laminate flooring is designed for light traffic areas, but be aware that you will want something sturdier for the high traffic areas of your home. One of the advantages of laminate flooring is its durability so it is a good choice for households with heavy foot traffic, children and pets. You will save money in the long run if you buy the right grade. The best laminate floors are easy to care for and will look like new for years.

As with every other type of flooring, laminate comes in different grades. The grades will determine the “best laminate flooring.” Besides price you will want to look at durability, water resistance and the warranty periods. Warranty periods of ten years for a “good” builder grade (designed for lighter traffic areas), 15 or 16 for a “better” grade and 20-25 years for the “best” grade (designed for commercial installation where a huge amount of foot traffic is expected) are typical.

The first difference you will notice amongst the grades is the number of pattern choices. A good builder grade has 6-10 pattern choices but the better grades will give you 25 or more choices.

The “use standpoint” is where the most obvious differences show-up, so look at this standard carefully and be aware that you are not just looking at a pretty picture. With the “good” grade the wear layer is not as hard and it is more susceptible to dents. With this lower grade you are more limited and you would not want to use it in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. Upgrading to a “better” grade is advisable. The better grade has a harder wear surface and is known for its water resistance.

Another area to take into consideration when buying laminate flooring is the center or core of the planks. The core is made up of wood fibers. Laminate floors come with cores ranging from 6 mm to 12 mm. A thicker core is more stable, less vulnerable and sounds more like hardwood when you walk on it. Quality cores are treated with water repellent chemicals that will prevent water from penetrating down into the core. Laminate flooring offers a wide range of quality and value, and is available in a wide range of colors, styles and designs.

Further reading: The Flooring Handbook: The Complete Guide to Choosing and Installing Floors

For pictures and more ideas on the laminate floors options out there, check out some of the old blog posts on different styles:

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