The Complete Buyer’s Guide To Choosing Laminate Flooring
When it comes to choosing laminate flooring, we know that it can feel overwhelming. What style to choose, what colours will look best, do you need underlay and how long it will last are all questions that will be going through your mind when trying to choose the perfect laminate flooring for your home.
We’ve written the complete buyer’s guide to choosing laminate flooring, to help make your decision a whole lot simpler.
This guide covers the following sections:
- What is laminate flooring?
- Different types of laminate flooring
- Different finishes of laminate flooring
- Waterproof / water-resistant laminate
- Underlays for your laminate
- AC ratings and laminate flooring resistance
- Laminate flooring and longevity
- Laminate flooring and maintenance
Laminate flooring is a type of floor covering that is made from several layers of material to form a firm and durable type of flooring. It usually has at least 4 layers.
A backer layer – this layer provides the stability and support for the flooring and is the base of the laminate flooring
A core layer – this layer helps to prevent dents (which can often occur in real wood floors) and retain the inherent structure of the flooring
A décor layer – this layer shows the style of the laminate flooring, whether it’s a wood effect, tile effect or stone effect
A wear layer – this layer provides the protection for the layers below, helping the flooring avoid being scratched from daily wear and tear
Laminate flooring comes in a variety of different types.
There are 2 main styles of laminate flooring: plastic laminate and engineered wood laminate. Read more about the differences between laminate and engineered wood.
It’s no surprise that the engineered wood laminate can be more expensive than its plastic counterpart. However with careful care, it can end up lasting much longer than the plastic laminate.
Different thicknesses and different widths are also important to consider when choosing your laminate flooring.
Typically, laminate flooring comes in thicknesses of 7-12mm. Usually the thicker the laminate, the more durable it is and the more suited it is for high traffic areas of your home.
Laminate flooring planks can vary in width as well. The wider the planks, the less flooring you’ll need to cover the space in your home.
Expert Tip – Choose your style of flooring that matches your expectations for your home. Will it be a busy area for foot traffic, or will the room not receive much foot traffic?
With hundreds, if not thousands of different finishes on the market, choosing the look of your laminate can be a daunting task.
First consider what kind of look you want in your home. The most common styles are wood effect, tile effect and stone effect.
Then within each of these styles you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to colours, grains and textures.
Some laminate flooring is embossed, others have a high gloss finish and others can have a hand-scraped effect to simulate a real hardwood floor.
Good To Know – Lighter flooring can make a room appear bigger and brighter and is great for smaller spaces. Darker laminate flooring is ideal for larger rooms and giving an impression of age and character to a room.
There are some laminate flooring planks on the market which are water resistant or waterproof.
They need to be installed very carefully and include 100% silicon sealant and a foam backer road around the entire perimeter of the room.
Water resistant laminate flooring usually means that any spills need to be cleaned up within 30 minutes, otherwise warping and damage may occur.
Word Of Caution – Read the product information very carefully when choosing waterproof or water resistant laminate flooring.
Generally yes. Underlay serves a few purposes.
It adds an extra layer of moisture protection, so if you ever have any leaks from underneath your flooring, it is less likely to seep through to your laminate flooring.
Underlay also reduces noise and makes your floors quieter to walk on, as well as adds a layer of thermal insulation, keeping your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
Expert Tip – Some laminate flooring planks are made with underlay already attached to the bottom of each plank. Check this before splashing out on underlay, only to find you didn’t need to.
Read our guide on laminate underlays.
AC stands for Abrasion Criteria, and AC ratings indicate how resistant the laminate flooring is to general wear and tear.
The AC scale ranges from AC1 to AC5, and the higher the rating, the more wear and tear the flooring can cope with.
AC1 – ideal for low amounts of foot traffic (e.g. bedrooms)
AC2 – ideal for medium traffic (e.g. living areas)
AC3 – ideal for all areas including high foot traffic areas (e.g. kitchen and hallways)
AC4 – ideal for all areas of your home and some commercial spaces
AC5 – ideal for heavy duty traffic in commercial spaces
Expert Tip – Most buyers looking for laminate flooring for their home choose an AC3 or AC4 style of laminate. Speak to one of our experts at Parrys Carpets if unsure.
Read our guide on laminate AC ratings.
How long your laminate flooring lasts depends on a variety of factors.
Firstly, the quality of the laminate you choose can have a huge effect on its longevity. Whether you add underlay, and what thickness of underlay you choose can also have an impact.
How much traffic and wear and tear the flooring experiences is another factor which can affect how long your laminate flooring lasts. A home with a retired couple is going to have very different foot traffic to a family of 6.
Finally, engineered wood laminate can last a lot longer than plastic laminate flooring, but it will need to be cared for, and sanded down and refinished over the years.
Expert Tip – Think about who will be using the home and how much effort you are prepared to put in to maintain your flooring in optimal condition.
Of course, you’ll need to clean your floors regularly, no matter what kind of flooring you choose.
Laminate flooring needs to be swept or vacuumed on a regular basis. You can also dry mop the floors or use a very mild floor cleaning solution with a damp (not wet) mop.
Using a wet mop could allow moisture to seep into your laminate and cause it to warp. Never allow pools of water to form on the flooring and even if your flooring is water resistant or water proof, always aim to clean up any spills as soon as you can.
Good To Know – A quick vacuum once or twice a week is usually enough to keep your floors looking nice and clean. Make sure to use the hard floor setting on your vacuum.
So now that you know what to look out for when it comes to choosing laminate flooring, it’s time to head into your nearest Parry’s Carpets showroom and take a look at some of our laminate flooring options.