Since 1982, when laminate floors debuted in the U. S. this particular type of flooring has seen a growth of about 20% per year in sales, most of this at the expense of flooring types that were greatly preferred in the past. In other words, laminate flooring is one of the fastest growing flooring industries in the U. S. Part of the appeal of laminate floors lies in the beauty of these floors but also in the durability and ease of care.
Pergo was the first company to bring this particular type of flooring into the U. S. flooring market. They also managed to hold the vast majority of the market share when it came to laminate floors for many years. As the popularity of this flooring option grew other companies began testing the waters so to speak when it comes to laminates. Today there are literally hundreds of brands from which to choose your laminate flooring. One thing to remember however is that not all brands are created equal. With so many choices, how do you choose the flooring that will best suit your needs?
Laminate floors are generally constructed using one or two methods of manufacturing: Direct Pressure Laminate and High Pressure Laminate. Direct pressure laminate is made of three layers while high-pressure laminate is made of five. From this alone it is probably fairly easy to understand that the High Pressure Laminate flooring is a superior product. This makes the flooring stronger and more dent resistant, which in turn makes the flooring more stable and a better value. The problem is that there is a higher price attached to this value. However, I find the value of an extra five or ten years of use of my floors is worth a little extra on the up front costs. The vast majority of laminate floors sold for household use in the U. S. are DPL however and stand up well to the rigors of daily living.
The cores of laminate flooring generally ranges in thickness from about 6mm to 12mm. Thicker cores are typically representative of a superior product stability wise unless you are comparing a floor that is DPL to one that is HPL as the high density laminate has a much thinner core that is more durable. Good laminate flooring manufacturers will use a high-density fiberboard that has been treated with chemicals designed to repel water as the core material. This offers not only stability but also water resistance.
Joint integrity is another factor to consider and weigh particularly if you are planning to place heavy furniture or other items on your laminate flooring. These floors are designed to handle normal wear and tear but not the added pressure that goes along with extra heavy furniture. If this is your intention you might be interested in obtaining an aluminum locking system for added strength. You should also treat the joints of your floors with water repelling chemicals so that moisture won’t penetrate the sub flooring.
You will find that most decent laminate warranties cover the following conditions in flooring: fading, wear and tear, staining, and denting. I recommend trying to find a laminate floor that also offers some sort of warranty for water damage as well. Just remember that flooding will not be covered in the warranty. For coverage from flood damage you should check with your insurance company. You should also take note of the time limits on different aspects of the warranty on your flooring. You may have a 25-year warranty for some damage and one that last only 10 or 15 years for other types of damage.
You could also check to see if the flooring you are considering carries the NALFA endorsement. In order to get this endorsement flooring has to go through rigorous testing and meet very exacting standards. If your flooring has this it is good quality flooring and the official seal of approval will most likely be displayed proudly on the packaging. You can go to the NALFA website for an extensive list of floorings that carry their approval.
Laminate flooring can be found in many grains, stains, and designs. You can even find these types of floors with beveled edges and textured surfaces that lend a more authentic look and feel to your floors. You can also find them in widths of 2″ to 12″, which offers a vast array of design options. These floors will complement most decors and can be used in most rooms within your home.