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  • Lisa Hubbell

A Little F.Y.I. About Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring.
The layers of laminate flooring.

Are you looking for a product that looks like wood and feels like wood, but without the price tag of wood? Allow us to introduce you to laminate flooring. While the word “laminate” may not evoke sentimental feelings as the thought of genuine hickory or Santos mahogany floors, it can certainly appeal to both your practical and fashionable side. Laminate flooring has come a long way since its inception offering incredible graphics, realistic texture, and sensational durability in comparison to traditionally engineered hardwood or solid hardwood.

What is Laminate?

Laminate flooring is a multi-layer man made flooring product adhered together through a laminating process using heat, pressure, and adhesive. This type of flooring can accurately simulate wood and stone though it is more widely available in wood looks. Laminate’s realistic graphics are achieved through digital imaging and is typically packaged in a number of tongue and groove planks that can be clicked into one another for ease of installation. This product is often a good choice for a D.I.Y. project.

How is it Made?

Laminate flooring is comprised of 4 basic layers:

The Balancing Layer

The Core Layer

The Pattern Layer

The Wear Layer

The "Balancing Layer" is the bottom or stabilizing layer. Its function is to resist moisture and stabilize the floor plank regarding expansion and contraction.

The "Core Layer" is comprised of a high density fiberboard (HDF) generally comprised of wood chips or sawdust that have been saturated in resin to make the core tough and water resistant.

The "Pattern Layer" is a thin paper that has been digitally printed with a specific wood grain or stone look and can be embossed with texture creating a realistic looking wood or stone product.

The "Wear Layer" is an aluminum oxide coating protecting the plank from scrapes, stains, fading, and moisture penetration. This layer is extremely durable and makes laminate flooring an excellent choice for high traffic areas!

All four layers are combined in a high-pressure process with temperatures reaching 400 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 600 pounds per square inch of pressure for 20 to 30 seconds. After the sheets are pressed, they are cooled to ensure that they fully cure and to prevent any surface imperfections. The sheets are then stacked and stored so that they can continue to acclimate, enhancing the stability of the boards.

Where can laminate be installed?

Due to it’s stability and durability, laminate does not have restrictions on where it can be installed indoors; however, just like engineered wood, laminate is sensitive to large quantities of water so take caution before installing it in moisture prone areas.

Moisture resistant properties:

A few laminate manufacturers have started sealing laminate joints with a moisture resistant product. The joints are where laminate is susceptible to moisture invasion. This added feature does not mean laminate is now 100% moisture tolerant, but it does mean that resistance to moisture has increased significantly buying time to clean up a large spill up to 72 hours. Western Carpet carries Mannington's "Spill Shield" laminate products.

Quality Counts:

As with any product, you get what you pay for. While laminate is meant to be affordable in comparison to wood flooring, there’s a difference between affordable and down-right cheap products and you can typically spot those by simply looking at them. Cost is affected by the quality of graphics and texture, warranty, and ease of clicking system. The more authentic a product looks and feels, the more you can expect to pay for it. Some products are nearly impossible to distinguish from the real thing and they are well worth the higher cost of the average laminate floor.

At Western Carpet, we think laminate is a fabulous flooring choice for a variety of applications that can bring a room to life at a more friendly price point that genuine hardwood flooring. Of course, we can bring samples to you for an in-home or in-office estimate.

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