Have you dreamed of installing an exotic hardwood floor in your home? Laminate flooring could be the answer. This durable, environmentally friendly flooring material has been embraced by homeowners, designers and builders. It offers unlimited potential on a limited budget. Modern laminate wood flooring looks so good that no one will know it's not made from solid wood. It’s the perfect way to capture the look of exotic tropical woods without harvesting them from their natural habitats. This makes this style of flooring an affordable, guilt-free alternative to solid wood. Not to mention, there are even some that look like stone, tile and concrete.
Laminate Flooring Options
Laminate floors are durable, competitively priced, easy to maintain, and they offer homeowners a limitless variety of choices. Eucalyptus, Patagonian walnut, Java bamboo, Caribbean rosewood and Brazilian cherry are all different available styles. Many of the wood species that are digitally recreated in these types of floors are not available on the market due to import laws and deforestation legislation. Many are also prohibitively priced in their natural forms. The best options feature durable materials and realistic wood grain images. If you're concerned about the look of your floors, hand-scraped laminate hardwood floors deliver the best of both worlds. This process emphasizes the texture and realism of the patterns. Craftsmen scrape the core board by hand before the decorative laminate layer is applied. This adds depth and dimension that enhances the aesthetic appeal.
The Anatomy of Laminate Floors
Since the 1960s, these floors have come a long way. Today’s options are more durable and realistic than ever before. Each board is coated with a durable wear layer made from resin or aluminum oxide. This layer is invisible and extremely wear resistant. It withstands impacts, foot traffic and scratches from pets and shoes. Due to their highly engineered wear layer and backing materials, laminate floors are exceptionally strong and resist surface wear well.
The transparent wear layer allows the decorative wood pattern to be displayed clearly. This decorative layer includes a digital representation of natural wood, which makes the colors and patterns exceptionally realistic. Laminate flooring can successfully simulate hundreds of natural wood species and stains as well as other natural materials, including marble and stone.
This decorative pattern layer is placed over a fiberboard core. The best type is made with a high-density fiber (HDF) board core that supports more weight and can safely handle more foot traffic and heavy items, such as furniture. HDF is the ideal core material because it is impact resistant, stable and long lasting.
The final layer is comprised of a laminated back made from melamine. This layer further increases the durability and structural stability while adding a second moisture barrier that protects the floor from the back. Some floors feature a built in underlayment that absorbs sound, resists moisture and creates a cushioning surface. This layer can also be installed separately.
Installing Your Flooring
The ease of installation is one more attractive feature behind the growing popularity of laminate flooring. Unlike solid wood floors that are nailed or glued to the sub-floor and underlayment, laminate floors are designed to float above the sub-floor using a click and lock system. This allows the boards to expand, contract and respond to fluctuating humidity levels. It also means that they can be replaced quickly and easily whenever a new look is desired.
If an underlayment is not attached to the back of the boards, a sound-dampening moisture barrier and underlayment can be placed directly on the sub-floor. These are made from cork, foam, rubber or recycled fibers. Installing an underlayment beneath a floating floor will smooth imperfections, absorb sound, create a softer walking surface and protect the floor from moisture. Many laminate hardwood floors feature multiple printed boards on each section. This makes installation even faster and easier. Floor and Decor has a large selection of discounted laminate flooring options as well as underlayments and everything you need to begin and complete your new flooring project.