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:
Laminate is extremely easy to care for:
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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