All About Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring intends to look like hardwood without the cost and maintenance of real hardwood. This is a viable flooring type for professionals and DIYers alike. Many advances have been made in the last several years that have increased the durability and user-friendliness of laminate.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring consists of tongue and groove panels that are installed using a floating floor system. No adhesive is necessary to install these panels. The floating method is used to allow the panels to expand and contract with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity.
Laminate flooring is comprised of four main layers and a pad. Depending upon the desired performance attributes, manufacturers create various combinations of these layers to produce different results.
The Wear Layer
The wear layer is the coating that offers finish and protection. This surface seals the layer and protects it from UV damage and scratches. Wear layers are available in different thicknesses which determines how durable the floor will be. The scale to rate laminate flooring is called the AC scale. The higher the AC rating, the more durable the floor.
The Decorative Layer
Just like with Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP), this layer comprises the main look and style of the laminate floor. The decorative layer is printed with an image, typically wood, but some stone visuals are available. This layer is what makes the laminate look realistic.
The core is generally composed of High-Density Fiberboard (HDF) or particleboard and makes up the majority of each laminate plank. Wood fibers or saw dust are combined with additives, such as wax and resin, to increase strength and durability. The mixture is then shaped and pressed under high pressure to create the plank.
This layer is located on the very bottom of each piece of laminate flooring and serves as the foundation. The backing is intended to not only protect the upper layers, but to also protect the subfloor underneath. The backing is the water-resistant portion of laminate.
The Muffler Pad
The pad is the final layer between your laminate flooring and the subfloor. There are a broad range of pad types on the market. The main point of the pad is to provide a final barrier between the material and the subfloor, but it is also intended to muffle the inherent “click” sound that laminate produces when walked on. Many showrooms have a kiosk set up that will show you the difference between laminate with no pad and laminate with a muffler pad installed. There is an extreme difference!
How is Laminate Flooring Installed?
Laminate flooring was designed to be easy to install so that more people could install it with ease! Most of the options available include some form of a click and lock, or tongue and groove system, that allows each piece to snap tightly together. Laminate can also be installed on top of existing flooring. Gone are the days of having to scrape up every last bit of that ancient linoleum!