Laminate Flooring Overview
Although the term “engineered hardwood flooring” is nothing new, it remains a somewhat misunderstood concept. However, once people understand what this type of flooring is and all the benefits offered over traditional hardwood flooring, they quickly realize just how incredible this innovative product is. To clear up any misgivings or confusion, we wanted to provide an overview of engineered hardwood flooring. And why it has become such a popular choice for residential and commercial use.
For starters, engineered hardwood flooring is also referred to as laminate flooring. With this, they use layers of wood with melamine materials to create what appears to be a solid hardwood floor. As you look at the floor, you would swear you were walking on an expensive wood floor. But in truth, the floor is nothing more than a photograph of wood planks, tiles, or strips that have been impregnated into the material. The surface is then coated with an extremely strong clear plastic to protect it.
Initially, engineered hardwood flooring was glued into place. But thanks to technology, the process has been improved. This type of flooring is installed over top of existing flooring or if preferred. The glue-down method would be available on the subflooring. When quality flooring is purchased, it would withstand even the toughest wear and tear. Providing you with 10 years, or sometimes more of enjoyment. Just imagine, having the look of real wood floors. But without the mess and expense of sanding, staining, and sealing.
Laminate Flooring Production
The way in which engineered hardwood flooring is made is by taking several layers. And using one of several methods, combining them. However, the highest quality laminate flooring uses the high-pressure method of production. Which involves all layers being fused. For instance, the top layer, called the wear layer is typically made of cellulose paper saturated with melamine plastic resins. This creates a strong and durable surface on which to walk. The design layer is that actual photographic image or pattern copied onto the cellulose paper. It is impossible to damage it because it is below the upper layer.
Then, engineered hardwood flooring has a core layer. That is usually made from processed particleboard. This particular layer is available in numerous thicknesses and strengths. Finally, the stabilizing layer is the foundation, the bottom layer that keeps all the other layers together. In most cases, this layer is made from paper. It then gets a saturation process with resin similar to the top layer. Depending on the brand, some also have an underlayment made from different materials. Including here, foam, cork, or felt to help provide cushion when walking and absorb sound.
As far as benefits for engineered hardwood flooring, one of the most obvious is support for a healthier planet. Because forests are not being destroyed as with hardwood. The market considers this type of flooring as a contributor to the “green” movement. Another benefit has to do with the floor’s ability to handle the traffic. It can go better and for a longer amount of time than actual wood. Additionally, flooring is coated with a UV blocker so it will never fade from sunlight.
This flooring is also a more cost-efficient solution and installation is far easier than real wood. In fact, many manufacturers of engineered hardwood flooring offer a tongue and groove design. The design allows the different pieces to be snapped into place. Then, if any area of the floor were damaged, planks can be easily repaired. Finally, cleaning and maintenance of engineered hardwood flooring is a breeze. Literally requiring only a damp cloth.
Buying the Best Laminate Flooring
Buying the best laminate flooring possible would ensure you have a beautiful looking floor that lasts for years. Today, options for the flooring of this type are incredible. They come with more styles, patterns, and features to choose from than ever before. You can consider laminate flooring a cost-efficient solution compared to other options. Still, you would expect to pay a decent price when buying quality. However, in exchange, the quality of the flooring would not only meet your expectations but also surpass them.
As with any type of flooring, there are good and bad choices for laminate. Meaning that some manufacturers are better than others are. For this reason, it would be beneficial to know the names of manufacturers with a strong reputation for excellence. In the current market, there are several choices when buying laminate flooring. Including here are Pergo, Wilsonart, Mohawk, Armstrong, Shaw, Mannington, Alloc, Witex, Bruce, Tarkett, and Uniclic.
Another tip is to pay attention to the warranty offered by the manufacturer. Typically, only the best laminate flooring would come with a solid warranty. So this is a telltale sign of quality. Obviously, when they don’t offer any warranty, it is a red flag warning for you to move on. However, any warranty of 10 years to life would be a good indicator that the quality is outstanding. The reason is that manufacturers confident in the product created have no problem in guaranteeing its lifespan.
You should not use the pricing alone to identify the best laminate flooring available. However, it is still one more component to consider. This industry is highly competitive. So finding affordable pricing even on the best flooring available should not be a problem. Try to find a manufacturer that is willing to match the pricing of the competition or even beat them. It would more than likely be a good place from which to buy. However, if a company is not willing to do this, it could mean their product is sub-quality so at a minimum. Allowing pricing to be a guide to finding the best laminate flooring available.
Additionally, if you know of people who have recently had laminate flooring installed, ask them where they bought the product. Also, what they like and dislike about it, what type of warranty provided, etc. Along with this, use the internet to locate related forums and message boards. From this place you can see what strangers have to say about their experience and opinion about a particular flooring manufacturer and/or company that specializes in laminate products.
Then, just as you would use the AC rating to identify poor quality laminate flooring, use it to help you find the best laminate flooring too. All flooring types sold in North America are rated based on standards that were devised by European producers. This rating makes it possible to distinguish the way in which one product compares to another. The AC rating given to laminate flooring would be based on a number of factors. Including here are the resistance to abrasions, burns, stains, and furniture marks.
This rating consists of a numerical scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being poor quality and 5 being excellent quality. Obviously, the best laminate flooring would have a higher rating. Keep in mind that when shopping for flooring for residential use, you should consider a good AC rating at 2 or 3. Whereas for commercial or industrial use, a 4, preferably 5 would be acceptable. Use the AC rating when trying to find the best laminate flooring. For any manufacturer or company that does not offer this rating, just avoid them at all costs.
DIY Laminate Flooring Installation
Today, laminate flooring is designed in such a way that anyone without experience still can do the installation process. For years, any type of flooring will need a highly trained professional to install it. But recently many consumers looking to save money and also participate in their home improvement project. The manufacturers realized they had an opportunity to capture an important corner of the market. The result was the development of new flooring options to include laminate, as well as easier installation methods. This makes the perfect DIY laminate flooring installation project easy
Laminate flooring is now available in an array of designs, styles, colors, patterns, and textures. As well as a variety of installation methods. However, you still want to pay close attention to some special considerations. One of the biggest mistakes that people make who decide to do their own installation is not paying attention to the manufacturers’ instructions. Or the suggestions from experts in the laminate flooring industry. Hopefully, you will see the following information as serious in that ignoring it could lead to disastrous results.
Upon Floor Delivery
First, it is imperative that once the store delivered the laminate flooring materials, you left the cartons horizontally on the floor. Let them unopened for 48 hours within the actual area of the home where installation would take place. After the production of the boards and planks at the factory, they will ship the products to a warehouse. They will stay there until consumers buy them. That warehouse maintains a certain temperature and humidity level that would be different from your home.
Therefore, once the laminate flooring product has been shipped to your house, it is imperative that it has time to rest and acclimate to the new temperature and humidity level. Otherwise, the boards and planks could begin to warp, bend, or somehow change shape. This would make installing laminate flooring not just difficult but impossible. Most people think this process only applies to genuine wood flooring. But actually it is just as important with laminate wood flooring.
Along this same line, it is important that when you remove the laminate boards or planks from the carton, you place them flat on the subfloor. You can stack them several high but most important, they must be perfectly flat. Even if you accidentally raised one board or plank an inch or two, when the time for installation, you would have a problem. Keeping everything perfectly flat for an additional 24 hours would ensure that as you start installing the flooring onto the subfloor, everything would go together perfectly.
You should also take the time to perform a moisture test. This is a special consideration that most people often missed. This particular test is necessary to test moisture levels in the subfloor, not the flooring material. Regardless of the material of the subfloor, wood, or concrete, you need to do this test. The results of the test would determine if the subfloor contains too much moisture for installing laminate flooring. In this case, within a short period after you installed the flooring, you would begin to experience problems with warping, peaking, buckling, or cupping.
Using a simple handheld device, you would quickly have an accurate reading. Now, the type of laminate flooring would dictate the amount of moisture but overall, the acceptable amount would be anywhere from 4% to 18%. To determine the allowable level of moisture for the brand of laminate flooring you plan to install, you can check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Anything above the acceptable level, then you will need to dry out the subfloor. But at that point, installing laminate flooring would not be a problem.
For a thorough DIY laminate flooring installation, please read the guide here.