A Buyer’s Guide to Laminate Flooring

When you’re shopping for flooring, it’s hard to resist the allure of hardwood: it’s classic and rich-looking. It also might be out of your budget and involve more maintenance than you’d like. A popular alternative is laminate flooring. Its most obvious appeal is its lower price, but depending on your needs, it might be the better choice all-around. With this buyer’s guide to laminate flooring, its benefits may surprise you.

Laminate is not the same as luxury vinyl flooring. In fact, laminate doesn’t contain vinyl at all. It’s made with wood byproducts, which makes it thicker, softer, and warmer than luxury vinyl. Laminate mimics all kinds of wood, with finishes from old-world polish to unreclaimed, random-length planks. You can choose laminate with the feel and texture of wood, too.

How It’s Made

Laminate is constructed in layers—similar to how luxury vinyl is made, but with different materials. The four layers have different functions.

Backing: This provides stability for the laminate and blocks moisture from penetrating the floor below.

Core: Located above the backing, this is the most substantial layer. It’s composed of high-density fiber board and responsible for much of the laminate’s durability.

Image: This is the layer with the flooring’s pattern or print, a high-res photo of real wood.

Wear: This clear layer protects the floor from scratches, dents, and staining.

The Advantages

  • Quick and easy installation
  • Floating installation—rather than being attached to the subfloor, the planks are locked to one another
  • Durable—changes in pressure and temperature won’t damage it
  • Low-maintenance—no wax needed
  • Stain- and spill-resistant
  • Water-resistant
  • Fade-resistant
  • Scratch- and dent-resistant

Is It Right for You?

Laminate is ideal in almost any room. It can be surprisingly transformative in kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms. Laminate is water-resistant, but it’s not built for bathrooms, laundry rooms, saunas, and other rooms subject to excess water.

Price-wise, laminate can be dramatically less expensive than hardwood and, sometimes, than luxury vinyl. In general, you can expect it to be around $2 to $6 a foot before installation.

This buyer’s guide to laminate flooring should give you an idea if it’s the right choice for you. If you’d like to seelaminate flooring in the Phoenix area, Diamondback Flooring can bring a substantial selection of samples to your home so that you can see exactly how it will look. Contact us for an in-home measure.