While pretty much every homeowner covets hardwood floors, they don’t consider the material’s downsides. This type of flooring is pricey and needs regular refinishing, ideally by a flooring professional (read: expensive).
What if there was another option that looked just as good but without all that hassle and cost? Well, we’re here to tell you that there is! All types of laminate flooring are low maintenance, scratch resistant, simple to install, and come in various colors and textures. Best of all, they’re incredibly affordable.
If you’re interested in exploring the laminate flooring options for your home, read on.
DPL or HPL
Right upfront, it’s essential to understand the basic manufacturing principles behind laminate flooring.
Laminate planks are made up of three distinct layers:
- Backing layer
- Core layer
- Decorative layer
The backing layer helps the floor sit comfortably on the subfloor. The decorative layer comes in an enormous variety of options to suit any decor. And the core layer is typically constructed from compressed wood pulp.
These layers are compressed together in two ways–both very durable.
A manufacturer uses up to 500 pounds of pressure to construct a direct pressure laminate (DPL) plank, which is suitable for less-trafficked areas of a home. For high-traffic areas, it’s better to choose high-pressure laminate, which is made using more than 1,000 pounds of pressure.
Thickness and Width
These two dimensions are critical in your hunt for the perfect laminate floor. Plank thickness and width are determined by the construction, floorplan, and aesthetic of your home.
When it comes to laminate flooring, the thickness is always measured in millimeters. The most commonly used thicknesses are 7mm, 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm. It might help to have a conversion chart on hand when you go floor shopping so you can quickly convert the planks you’re interested in into inches.
What thickness you need really depends on your subfloor. If you have a sturdy subfloor, you can get away with a thinner laminate plank. However, in older houses, where the subfloor is likely uneven, it’s best to choose thicker flooring.
Whereas thickness determines the comfort of laminate flooring, knowing which width is suitable depends on how you want a room to look.
You’ll find laminate flooring in these standard widths:
- 3 to 4 inches
- 5 to 6 inches
- 6 inches and above
Traditional homes look better with thin boards, while contemporary trends favor wide boards. Nowadays, mixed-width options are also becoming increasingly popular. They’re typically used by designers wanting to create rustic or reclaimed types of floors.
Once you’ve worked out your preferred thickness and width, it’s time to consider how the planks will fit together. A key benefit to laminate flooring is that each plank locks together without the need for glue, nails, or screws.
These types of flooring are divided into two kinds: tongue and groove and mechanical systems.
The tongue and groove style is the most popular of the two because the planks easily snap together, almost like jigsaw puzzle pieces. In rarer cases, the laminate boards are joined together using an underlying mechanical locking system.
Another technical factor that will subtly determine the look of your floor is the plank design. Laminate flooring comes in planks with one to multiple strips in a single unit. In some cases, this can save time and money on materials and time on installation.
There are three main types of plank design:
- Single-strip plank
- Two-strip plank
- Three-strip plank
The three-strip option consists of three thin planks within a single wider plank. The two-strip design has two in one plank, mimicking the look of hardwood. Single-strip planks are usually the most expensive option with the most desirable, high quality, or natural finishes.
Just like with other types of flooring, the style of the edge of a laminate board determines how it looks once laid down. For example, planks with beveled edges are more defined than those with a square edge.
Some popular edge types today include:
- Painted bevel
- Deep bevel
- Rolled bevel
If you’re looking to fit your home with sleek, contemporary flooring, choose a micro-bevel or square edge. For those looking for something more dramatic, go with a painted bevel. Finally, look for laminate boards with deep or rolled bevel edges if you’re attempting to imitate natural wood planks.
After all that technical stuff, it’s time to have a bit of fun. Let’s take a look at the different types of laminate flooring finishes. After all, this is the part you’ll see every day as you move around your home!
Thankfully, by choosing to use laminate planks, you’ve got an overwhelming selection of styles, colors, finishes, and textures to choose from.
If you want a traditional look to your home, choose planks with natural or oiled wood or soft or hand-scraped finish. For contemporary interiors, you can select from either high-gloss or oxide surface finished boards.
Slate or stone-finished laminate planks give luxury homes a touch of old-world charm. Two of the most popular finishes are matte and satin or smooth.
Finally, you need to consider what you want your flooring to do in your home.
For example, do you need flooring that can withstand pet claws and children’s toys? Look for scratch-resistant laminate flooring.
Are you looking for flooring for the kitchen or laundry, where spills are inevitable? Seek out waterproof laminate flooring with spill protection, which can withstand puddles of water for up to 72 hours without damage.
If you live in an area with high humidity, look for boards impregnated with wax or fitted with a water-resistant core to keep moisture at bay. Passionate DIYers would do well to consider laminate flooring with built-in underlayment.
Types of Laminate Flooring: What’s Right for You?
Knowing which types of laminate flooring will work for your home and needs take time. You need to do your research–both on and offline–and consider everything from your home’s interior design style to its age and construction. And don’t forget to consider your budget, including installation costs.
If you have questions about selecting, purchasing, or installing your new laminate flooring, reach out to the professionals. Contact National Floors Direct for a free in-home estimate today.