Laminate Flooring:

Everything You Need To Know
(From Types to Designs to Price to Installation and Maintenance)

written by Vaidas Mockus (Founder, Deco Designs)

Laminate Flooring is a popular choice among homeowners and business owners because it gives you everything you would want in a flooring material: Beauty, durability, ease of installation and maintenance, all at an affordable price.

There are many benefits to having laminate flooring.

It can accentuate the design of your home and create a look and feel of sophistication and elegance.

Laminate flooring is nice to walk on and if you have pets, they can walk on it as well!

Laminate floors are easy to clean and are resistant to scuffs, burns, and scratches.

Laminate Flooring Guide

Your choice of laminate flooring will depend on the following factors:

  • Type of Installation
  • Type of Material
  • Texture
  • Type of Floor Construction
  • Gloss Level
  • Design Pattern
  • AC Rating
  • Price
Choose Laminate Flooring for Home and Commercial
Laminate Flooring Designs

About Laminate Flooring

This guide will give you all the information you need about laminate flooring for your home or office.

You will learn its benefits, the different types of laminate, how it is installed, cleaned and maintained, how laminate flooring compares to other types of flooring materials such as carpet, hardwood, vinyl planks, and tiles as well as its price per square metre.

Here’s what you’ll discover…

  • What is Laminate Flooring? (And what’s it made from?)
  • 7 Benefits Of Laminate (Why it’s more popular than ever)
  • Types of Laminate Flooring (Stone look, Tile look, Wood look, patterns and designs)
  • 3 Things To Consider When Buying Laminate Flooring? (Protect your investment from people, pets and more)
  • How Much Do Laminate Floors Cost? (Per sqm prices for each type)
  • How Long Does Laminate Last? (And how to increase its lifespan)
  • Laminate Flooring Vs Carpet (Pros and cons)
  • Laminate Flooring Vs Hardwood Flooring (What’s best?)
  • Laminate Flooring Vs Vinyl Planks (Advantages and disadvantages)
  • Laminate Flooring Vs Tiles (What’s the difference?)
  • How To Clean And Maintain Laminate Floors (Simple cleaning to protect your investment)
  • Final Thoughts

Let’s get into it…

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring replicates the look and feel of stone, wood or tile. It is made up of layers of fibre core boards.

Then, an image of the material – stone, wood or tile – is printed on its topside.

Finally, the laminate flooring is finished off with a coat of melamine resins.

Laminate flooring is often mistaken for engineered hardwood flooring which is made from laminated real wood plies.

So with laminate flooring, you get the look that you want for your home or office at a price that is more affordable than tile, natural stone or wood.

In addition to modernising your home or office flooring, there are other benefits to choosing laminate flooring.

7 Benefits of Laminate Floors

1. Durability

Other than melamine resins, some types of laminate flooring are coated with aluminium oxide. Both substances make laminate flooring highly durable. It will hold up against scratches and dents.

2. Stain Resistant

Laminate flooring is recommended for homes where pets live indoors. This is because its top coat is either water-resistant or water-proof completely.

Unlike hardwood flooring, you have nothing to worry about when liquids are spilled on your laminate flooring.

3. Easy To Clean And Maintain

Did a guest spill wine or coffee on your laminate flooring? Simply clean up the spill with a dry, clean mop.

Regular sweeping and vacuuming will make your laminate flooring looking shiny and new every day.

4. Easy To Install

One of the best reasons to choose laminate flooring is that it is easy to install.

Laminate flooring is manufactured with a “tongue and groove” system which allows the planks to interlock.

This “No frills” installation will save you hundreds of dollars compared to other types of flooring.

5. Safe For The Family

If you have children or the elderly who suffer from allergies, laminate flooring should be your primary choice for your home.

Dust has no place to hide with laminate flooring. It has an underlay that acts as a “moisture barrier” which prevents moulds from developing.

6. Cost

Laminate flooring is one of the most budget-friendly flooring options you can find in the market. Not only will you have beautiful floors but very durable ones as well.

Including beautiful aesthetics, there are 7 benefits to choosing laminate flooring for your home or office. All of these benefits at a price that won’t put a dent in your bank account.

Types Of Laminate Flooring

There are many types of laminate flooring to choose from.

To make it easier for you, we have segmented the types of laminate flooring according to the following categories:

  • Method of Installation
  • Look of Material Copied
  • Texture of the Laminate Flooring
  • Type of Floor Construction
  • Pattern/Design
  • AC Rating

Let’s begin with the first type of laminate flooring which is based on its method of installation…

Method Of Installation

Glue-Less Laminate Flooring (aka “Tongue & Groove”) – Popular because of its ease of installation and without the need for glue, so no mess, no fuss.

It may take some time to develop the right feel of affixing the flooring materials together.

Based On Look Of Material Copied

Wood – Laminate tiles that look like natural wood are actually made of thin layers of wood combined with wood veneer and finished off with acrylic to make it tougher and more durable.

With today’s technology, it’s hard to tell this type of laminate flooring from solid hardwood.

Plastic – A versatile type of laminate flooring which is manufactured from fibreboard with an imposed photo image design. Do not use plastic laminate flooring for your bathroom as the material tends to retain moisture.

Stone – The great thing about this type of laminate flooring is that it gives your floors the grainy but beautiful natural look of stone with its deep textures, indentations, and rich assortment of colours.

Tiles – If you want the look of ceramic tiles, laminate flooring will give you a more durable alternative. Ceramic laminate flooring planks are available in various sizes.

Texture Of Laminate Flooring

Smooth Texture – This type of laminate flooring is designed to look like marble and ceramic tile with its appearance of having a smooth texture.

Compared to marble and ceramic tiles, laminate flooring is not only much easier to clean but it is also more durable.

Embossed Laminate Flooring – Heat sensitive polymer is used to manufacture embossed laminate flooring. These planks are available in different patterns that can be cut into rectangular strips or square-shaped blocks.

There are 2 types of embossed laminate flooring: Textured and EIR or Embossed in Register.

Textured has the look of natural wood grain. Unlike Textured, EIR exactly replicates the grooves of the printed grain. It has a more realistic-looking texture of wood.

Hand-Scraped – If you’re interested in giving your floors that aged but elegant look, you might want to consider hand-scraped laminate flooring.

Type Of Floor Construction

High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) – One of the most durable types of laminate flooring you can find on the market.

HPL is made by using a 1 to 2 step fusing process whereby layers of planks are first glued together then fused with other materials before it is finally glued as an HPL plank.

Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) – This is the most common way of producing laminate flooring. In DPL, 4 layers of planks are put together then heated in order to bond the pieces together.

DPL flooring may not be as durable as HPL, but its simpler process makes it the cheaper option.

Gloss Level

Are you looking for a glossy or matte finish to your flooring?

You can find laminate flooring with the right amount of shine to suit your tastes and design preferences.

Quick tip: Low-gloss laminate flooring can cover up scratches and nicks better than high-gloss laminate flooring.

Design Pattern

If you are prioritising aesthetics and are after a specific look and feel for your home, you can find a wide variety of design patterns for laminate flooring.

Among these design patterns are the following:

  • Traditional Floor Board
  • Thin Strip Flooring
  • Wide-Plank Floor Board
  • Herringbone and Chevron Design Patterns

Based On AC Rating

The AC Rating is the measure of laminate flooring’s durability for home or office use.

AC stands for Abrasion Class.

The rating is based on a system that grades laminate flooring from a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 as the highest rating:

• AC1 – Moderate Residential; ideal for light foot traffic and recommended for use in the bedroom or closets.

• AC2 – General Residential; recommended for areas with moderate foot traffic such as the living room and dining room.

• AC3 – Heavy Residential; best suited for high-traffic areas at home but can also be used for light-traffic areas of an office.

• AC4 – General Commercial; This grade level means the laminate flooring can be used in all areas of the home and in some commercial spaces.

• AC5 – Heavy Commercial; If your place of business regularly experiences heavy foot traffic, look for laminate flooring with this AC Rating.

3 Things To Consider When Choosing Laminate Flooring

Now that you’ve gone through a crash course on the types of laminate flooring that are available in the market, let’s fine-tune the selection process.

Here are 3 things that you should consider when choosing the type of laminate flooring for your home or office:

1. Foot Traffic

The volume of foot traffic will determine the level of wear and tear that your laminate flooring will go through.

High foot traffic areas will result in more nicks and damage to your flooring. In the home, high foot traffic areas include the living room, the kitchen, and the dining room.

For high foot traffic areas, light coloured laminate flooring planks would be a better option because they can hide scratches, dust, and dirt better than dark coloured laminate flooring planks.

You won’t have to clean and maintain them as much as dark coloured laminate flooring planks where even footprints are visible.

Another good option for high foot traffic areas is Embossed Laminate Flooring. Its grainy texture that is similar to wood will hide scratches really well. The same can be said for laminate flooring with stone design printed on it.

2. Location

If the room is located in an area where there is an abundance of natural light coming inside, darker coloured laminate flooring can help subdue the level of brightness.

On the other hand, if the room does not get enough natural light coming in, opt for lighter or brighter coloured laminate flooring.

In areas where you normally receive guests such as the living room, dining room, and kitchen, using laminate flooring with wider planks will give the space the impression of greater size.

For the kitchen, a good choice would be laminate flooring with an underlay as it has been proven to be highly-resistant to mould.

3. Cost

Even though laminate flooring is one of the more inexpensive flooring materials you can choose for your home and office, you should still be mindful of its cost.

It has been designed to be a no-frills option for your home or office renovation. As you have read, there are types of laminate flooring planks that do not need glue for installation.

Still, flooring is just one component in a home building or home renovation project.

Choose laminate flooring tiles that fit your budget. You want to make sure your funds can cover the other refurbishing needs of your home or office.

About Laminate Flooring

Cost Of Laminate Flooring

The average cost of installing laminate flooring will range from €13 – €32 (USD$15 to $36) per square metre.

If you want to improve the quality of the underlay, it’s an additional €4 – €8 (USD$5 to $10) per square metre.

If the laminate flooring planks are intended for the kitchen or the bathroom where moisture tends to occur, it may be a good idea to spend a bit more for anti-microbial underlay.

The thickness of the laminate flooring will also add to the cost. The price of laminate flooring with a thickness of 12mm can range from €18 to €50 (USD$15-$45) per square metre.

Thicker laminate flooring with good underlay is ideal for rooms where you want to improve acoustics and sound absorption.

Here is a price list of laminate flooring based on the type of wood used:

  • Maple – €6 – €9 (USD$7.50 to $10) per square metre
  • Red Oak – €6 – €9 (USD$7.50 to $10) per square metre
  • White Oak – €6 – €9 (USD$7.50 to $10) per square metre
  • Walnut – €8 – €10 (USD$9.50 to $11) per square metre
  • Acadia – €9 – €11 (USD$10 t0 $12) per square metre
  • Cherry – €9 – €11 (USD$10 to $12) per square metre
  • Beech – €9 – €11 (USD$10 to $12) per square metre
  • Hickory – €20 – €23 (USD$22 to $25) per square metre

Prices would depend more on the thickness (quality) rather than color or design.

Laminate flooring that is made of thick timber can go as high as €100 (USD$110) per square metre.

The cost of installing laminate flooring can range from €10 to €25 (USD$11-$23) per square metre.

The cost will include labour plus the use of the standard underlay and adhesives. Replacing carpet with laminate flooring will also entail additional costs.

Laminate Flooring Cost

Laminate Flooring Vs. Carpet

Carpet is another wonderful option for flooring material. Similar to laminate flooring, your choice of carpet can improve the aesthetics of your room and provide better insulation. Carpet also feels great on the feet and can reduce noise levels.

Given the similarities with laminate flooring, which one is the better option for your home or office?

Cost

Both are great options for those with a limited budget for flooring. The cost differences between laminate flooring and carpet are negligible. It would depend on your choice of type of laminate flooring or carpet.

Care and Maintenance

Laminate flooring is easier to clean and maintain. Carpet tends to trap dirt and dust. Moisture also tends to build up in carpet compared to laminate flooring. The risk of growing moulds and creating allergens are greater with carpet.

In order to maintain freshness, cleanliness, and appearance, carpet has to be swept and vacuumed on a daily basis. Carpet will have to undergo professional cleaning services every 6 months; 3 months if you have pets or young children.

Laminate flooring does not have to be cleaned on a daily basis. You only have to sweep and mop it once per week or whenever dirt and dust are noticeable.

Unlike carpet, you do not need special cleaning chemicals to clean laminate flooring. In most cases, a solution made of water and vinegar will be enough to remove stubborn dirt and stain on laminate flooring.

Durability

Laminate flooring and carpet are 2 of the most durable flooring materials that you can use for your home or office. It is estimated that both types of flooring materials have a life span of 8 to 15 years.

However, it is easier to replace damaged laminate flooring than it is to replace damaged carpet.

Because of its tongue and groove system, all you have to do is to remove the damaged laminate flooring and replace it with a brand new one.

The same cannot be said for carpet. It would need to be replaced completely.

Comfort

Comfort is where carpet may have a distinct advantage over laminate flooring. Carpet is made with a soft underlay which acts as an extra padding. On top of a carpet is a soft, plush layer designed to give more comfort.

This is not to say that laminate flooring is not comfortable to walk on. Laminate flooring has a nice, smooth texture which is easy on the feet. You can also find laminate flooring types which have extra padding for improved comfort.

Insulation and Noise Reduction

Carpet will provide better insulation because the material has qualities that allow it to absorb and retain heat. Carpet can also absorb sound and is great at reducing noise levels.

Laminate flooring is made of dense material which cannot absorb sound and retain heat. During winter or cold, chilly nights, walking barefoot on laminate flooring may not be a pleasant experience.

Laminate Flooring Vs. Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring has been around for decades. Real estate agents would cite hardwood floors as a selling point for houses that are on the property market. This type of flooring has long been associated with a life of luxury.

Laminate flooring is one of the newer types of flooring material in the market. In a short time it has become popular with homeowners because of its durability and affordability.

Let’s see how laminate flooring stacks up against the classic flooring material, hardwood.

Cost

Hardwood flooring is twice the cost of laminate flooring. Once you factor in installation expenses, the cost of hardwood flooring increases to three times that of laminate flooring.

The large difference in costing should not come as a surprise as hardwood flooring is cut from real wood.

On the other hand, laminate flooring is manufactured. It’s a composite; made of layers including:

• Backing which acts as a stabilising layer.
• A thick layer of fibre board which forms its core.
• A coated layer embedded with a photographic image.
• A top coat of resin with aluminium oxide to increase durability.

For homeowners with tight budgets, laminate flooring will be the better choice. It looks as good as hardwood and is quite durable.

Durability

It is not easy to make a fair comparison on which flooring material is more durable because hardwood has been around much longer.

You can find houses that have been around for several generations, yet their hardwood flooring looks as good as new.

However, because the top layer of laminate flooring is coated, it may resist wear and tear much better than hardwood.

You may have to opt for a harder type of hardwood flooring such as hickory for high-traffic areas in your home or office.

Installation

Laminate flooring is much easier to install than hardwood flooring especially if you choose brands that have a tongue and groove system.

Installing hardwood flooring is best left to the professionals. To install hardwood floors, you should know how to use equipment such as pneumatic staplers and nailers.

If the hardwood plank is not installed correctly, it could buckle. Professional flooring installers will use expansion joints to prevent hardwood flooring from buckling.

Resistance to Scratches and Abrasions

If you have pets that stay indoors, laminate flooring would be the better option compared to hardwood flooring.

In addition to increasing laminate flooring’s resistance to wear and tear, the top coat finish of aluminium oxide also makes it more resistant to scratches and abrasions.

You can find hardwood material that is highly-resistant to scratches and abrasions. However, these types of hardwood material are very expensive.

Effect of Humidity

As a natural material, hardwood flooring is more susceptible to changes in humidity. If the level of humidity increases, the hardwood material can expand and cause the planks to buckle and rise off the floor.

If the level of humidity decreases, the hardwood material can shrink and open up gaps between the planks.

The layered construction of laminate flooring makes it less susceptible to changes in humidity. The locking edge design of most laminate flooring types will keep planks from separating.

Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood Flooring

Laminate Flooring Vs. Vinyl Planks

We’ve already established that laminate flooring is more affordable than hardwood flooring. Vinyl plank is another type of flooring material that is cheaper than hardwood and is durable as laminate flooring.

Which one is better for your home?

Durability

Like laminate flooring, vinyl planks are a good choice for homeowners who allow their pets to stay indoors. The material of vinyl plank is very resistant to scratches and dings.

Vinyl plank is often installed in rooms that have heavy furniture. Its material can easily withstand the weight of heavy objects.

However, because the material of vinyl plank is quite soft, it can tear if heavy furniture is dragged across its surface.

Both laminate flooring and vinyl planks can suffer wear and tear if regularly exposed to the sun. Rooms that use these types of flooring should have thick curtains to minimise damage from the sun.

Level of Waterproofing

Hands down, vinyl planks are the better choice for the kitchen and bathrooms because it is 100% waterproof.

Although you can find types of laminate flooring that have a measure of resistance against water damage, it can still experience warping, buckling, and gapping if regularly exposed to moisture.

Installation

We’ve discussed how its tongue and groove system makes laminate flooring easy to install. Vinyl planks have a backing that you can peel off to expose the adhesive.

Vinyl planks are easy to install. However, you may have to use additional tools such as a circular saw and a hand saw in order to get the right-sized piece for your flooring.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Both laminate flooring and vinyl planks are very easy to clean and maintain. You only need a mop, a broom, and a vacuum cleaner to keep your laminate flooring and vinyl planks fresh and clean-looking.

Take great care of using a wet mop to clean vinyl planks. If you use too much water, it could get into the seams and remove the adhesive.

Comfort

Laminate flooring is more comfortable than vinyl planks because it is thicker. Some types of laminate also use a foam underlay to make it absorb more weight and enhance the level of comfort.

Although laminate flooring gets cold during the chilly months, it is still comparatively warmer than vinyl planks.

Laminate Flooring vs Vinyl Planks

Laminate Flooring Vs. Tiles

Tile is another type of flooring material that has withstood the test of time and has remained popular with homeowners.

Both laminate flooring and tile share common qualities. But which one should you choose for your home?

We’ve broken down the pros and cons of laminate flooring and tile.

Installation

So far, laminate flooring has proven to be the easier material to install compared to hardwood, vinyl planks, and carpet.

Is laminate flooring easier to install the tile? The answer is “Yes”.

Laminate flooring can be snapped together. There are types of laminate flooring that do not require glue.

Tile is a bit more challenging to install. You must have patience to install tile which is why the task is best delegated to the professionals.

And once tile is installed, it becomes permanently attached to your foundation. It is very difficult to remove.

Cost

Laminate flooring is not only easier and cheaper to install. The material itself is more affordable than tile. The cost of tiling material averages between €30 and €80 (USD$33-$88) per square meter.

At the minimum, it will cost you €30.00 (USD$33) per square meter to have tiles installed in your home. This is €5 (USD$4) more expensive than the cost of installing laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring remains the best option for homeowners who have limited funds for renovation or construction.

Durability

We’ve spoken at length at how durable laminate flooring is. However, tile wins this round.

Tile is more durable than laminate flooring. Both materials offer a great degree of resistance to scratches but if installed properly, tile can keep water from seeping in.

That is why laminate flooring is limited to bathrooms while tile can be installed in the shower.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Laminate flooring is definitely the easier material to clean and maintain. Unlike tiles, laminate flooring does not have grout lines which are very hard to clean.

Grout lines trap dirt and dust. Once moisture settles in, the grout lines will develop moulds and change colour. Your tiles will look unsightly to visitors.

To keep the grout lines clean will require you to go down on all fours and scrub them with a toothbrush at least once a month.

Aesthetics

This round is a draw. Both tile and laminate flooring are available in several styles and designs. You can easily find tile and laminate flooring styles that will fit with your design sensibilities.

Perhaps laminate flooring edges out tile in terms of comfort. While both tile and laminate flooring are comfortable to walk on, if a tile is not properly installed, you could stub your toes on uneven surfaces.

How To Clean And Maintain Laminate Floors

You come home after a long day at work and all you want to do is to open that bottle of red wine. You’re so tired that you don’t take off your shoes and just walk straight to the kitchen.

Red wine in hand, your dog suddenly jumps on you and some of the red wine spills on the floor.

Dirt, shoe prints, spills, dog tracks with mud, scratches, and scrapes. You saved a lot of money having laminate flooring installed instead of carpet or hardwood. But they are taking a beating every day.

If you want to keep your floors looking shiny and new, you have to know how to clean and maintain laminate flooring.

The good news is that it’s easy to clean and maintain laminate flooring.

First, what tools do you need?

Vacuum – A broom will just relocate most of the dirt that you’ve tracked in from outside. A vacuum cleaner will pick up even the smallest particles on the floor.

Microfiber Mop – Great for drying out your floors in case of spills and helps keep moisture under control.

As for cleaning solutions, should you go for homemade or branded products?

A homemade cleaning solution of water mixed with vinegar will work just fine in keeping your laminate flooring shiny and clean.

If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, don’t worry. The scent of vinegar does not last long. Another way to offset the smell of vinegar is to add a drop of your favourite essential oil to the mixture.

Now that you have your tools and cleaning solution, here are our tips on how to keep your laminate flooring shiny and new:

  • Vacuum your laminate floors frequently to prevent the build-up of dust and grit.
  • Spray a small amount of the water and vinegar cleaning solution on your laminate flooring. Too much water is not good for laminate flooring.
  • Use the Microfiber Mop to wipe the floors with the cleaning solution. The Microfiber Mop must not be drenched in the solution.
  • Never use the following materials and solutions on laminate flooring:
    • Bleach
    • Abrasive cleaning solutions
    • Scouring pad

If gum ever gets stuck on your laminate flooring, cover it with ice until it is frozen.

Then, gently remove it with a non-abrasive plastic scraper. Wipe away excess water from the floor.

Laminate Flooring Maintenance

Final Thoughts

Laminate flooring is proof that you don’t have to break the bank account to get the best of both worlds in flooring materials: beauty and durability.

It is one of the most affordable flooring materials you can find on the market; cheaper than carpet, hardwood flooring, and tile.

Today’s laminate flooring is made more durable with a stronger top coat that makes it resistant to scratches and dents. There is also more emphasis on design.

You can find laminate flooring that looks like natural wood, stone or ceramic tile.

If you’re on a tight budget for renovating your home, you can’t go wrong with laminate flooring.

There are types of laminate flooring that you can use for high-traffic and low- traffic areas in your home or office.

And because laminate flooring is highly resistant to stains, you can keep your pet indoors with nothing to worry about!