If you love the look of solid timber flooring, but don't like the price tag that usually comes with it, and also want something a bit more durable than hardwood, you might consider wood laminate flooring. This option is much more durable, easy to install, and typically much cheaper than solid hardwood flooring. Note a few factors to consider about laminate timber flooring so you can determine if this is the right choice for your home.
What is laminate?
Laminate flooring is a floor covering that is applied over pressed wood. This pressed wood is not a solid hardwood plank, but is similar to cheaper plywood; this is one reason that laminate flooring is often more affordable than hardwood.
The floor covering refers to a type of design, much like a photograph, that is applied over the top of this pressed wodo. This creates a very uniform appearance to the laminate, unlike hardwood, which will have natural variations in the grain pattern.
The very top of the laminate flooring is what is called a wear layer. This is a sealant or plastic that protects the floor covering and provides a slight shine or gloss, so the material looks like real wood. This sealant or plastic is very durable, so the flooring is not likely to get scratched or scuffed.
What are the benefits of laminate?
As said, the top wear layer makes laminate flooring very durable, even under heavy foot traffic. Also, laminate flooring is typically much lighter than hardwood. This can make it easier to install, as the planks just snap into each other as they're put into place, rather than being glued to the subfloor.
A thin layer of a foam material is placed over the subfloor and beneath the laminate, to provide added protection for the subfloor. This padding also makes the laminate very comfortable underfoot.
What are the cons of a laminate floor?
While laminate is very durable, you do need to be careful of water getting to the underside of the boards, such as through the joints or connections of the slats. Standing water may cause the laminate to swell and the slats to push against each other, creating cracks and other damage. This can also damage the foam layer that is under the flooring. As with solid hardwood, be sure you're careful about water on the floor and mop up any spills quickly, so you ensure you don't allow water to collect under those boards.