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Laminate flooring contains a layer of wood chip composite so technically, it is made of wood. But it is not real wood in the sense that hardwood and engineered wood flooring are and it is certainly not wood in its raw state.

On top of the wood chip composite is a thin layer of resin-infused paper. This resin layer is a photograph of wood. Surprisingly, it can be a really amazing photograph! Even examining a high quality laminate floor with a magnifying glass could possibly fool the consumer.


This type of flooring (sometimes known by its brand name Pergo) is extremely easy to install. It comes in planks that can be either snapped or glued together. As far as installation goes, the snap-together type is easier to install but it is not as structurally sound as the glued together form. There is a newer version that has a click and lock design combined with a dry glue already on the product that just needs a wet sponge or cloth to activate it.

Unlike with hardwood floors, there are no ‘bad’ pieces with laminate that need to be thrown out or re-engineered. 

Most of this type of flooring is installed with a 'floating' installation, though it can be glued down to the underlayment. The floating floor allows for the floor to expand with changes in the humidity and no specialized tools are needed. This makes it suitable for light moisture areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, where solid wood flooring would warp, crack, or distort.

The downside to using the floating floor technique is that it is thinner and has a lower resale value than nail-down hardwood flooring or tile that is mortared down.


Peaking is a common flaw in laminate installation. The homeowner should be aware of this issue especially since installing a laminate floor is a popular DIY project and has a reputation for ease of use.

Peaking is when the laminate floor has high points at the joints. It happens when the flooring hasn't had enough room to expand and the two boards push against each other. With nowhere to go, each end pushes up.

There are ways to prevent the problem as well as ways to remedy it:

  • If the floor has not yet been installed, the flooring should sit in the home for at least 2 or 3 days prior to installation so it can adjust to the climate.
  • If there is peaking, track the board back to the wall where the molding is. Remove the molding and trim off enough of the board's end to allow the floor some space. Make sure the molding isn't nailed to the floor so as to allow for that expansion.
  • Peaking can also happen in a large room if there are no expansion joints to help relieve the pressure. As a rule of thumb, if the room is longer than 27 feet in any direction, expansion joints should be included.


  • This flooring is less expensive than hardwood or engineered wood flooring.
  • It is extremely easy to install.
  • It can be used in moist environments such as kitchens and bathrooms when installed as a 'floating floor.'
  • It comes with a ‘wear’ layer that is specifically designed to be scratch-resistant and protects the photographic layer underneath. (although it can’t resist deep scratches). (Some manufacturers actually offer 10 year plus warranties on the product). It is one alternative to wood flooring and is especially useful for homes with pets because of its scratch resistance (unlike wood and engineered wood flooring).
  • The photographic layer can essentially duplicate anything in nature. The quality of the photograph is determined by the quality of the manufacturing.  When choosing laminate flooring, always look for a seal of quality (NALFA).


  • It is hard to walk on even when a foam underlayment is installed under it.
  • It can be quite slippery but this has been mitigated recently by manufacturers with slip-resistant wear layers.
  • Unlike wood and engineered flooring, it cannot be sanded.
  • Laminate flooring lacks the visual warmth of solid wood floors.
  • It does not absorb sound well, which can be very annoying.
  • The joints can wear over time and once the surface is damaged, it is very difficult to fix. 
  • If too much moisture gets into it and swelling results, it cannot be repaired and must be replaced.


Laminate is extremely easy to care for:

  • Cleaning involves using a vacuum or a broom.
  • It can be mopped with a slightly damp mop.
  • No floor waxing is needed.
  • It is stain-resistant and stains can usually be cleaned off easily.

This flooring is a less expensive alternative to either hardwood or engineered wood flooring but it does not last as long or appreciably add to the resale value of a home. 

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