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Laminate Flooring: Good Idea or Great Idea?September 30th, 2015 by
This article was crafted with the help of Jeff Hackney of Hackney Carpet.
Laminate flooring has come a long way in recent years. It wasn’t too long ago that you’d be able to tell right off the bat when you weren’t walking on real hardwood flooring. Advances in technology have changed the game, though, and homeowners have found that the benefits of laminate flooring make it a cost-effective, durable, and attractive option. We spoke with Jeff Hackney of Hackney Carpet in Atlanta to learn more about laminate flooring and the advantages it affords homeowners.
Layer Upon Layer
To start, let’s look at what makes up laminate flooring. Even though they often mimic the appearance of hardwoods, laminates actually contain no wood whatsoever. Rather, they’re composed of a series of layers made up of fiberboard particles, resins, and paper. As Jeff explains, “The core itself is melamine, and it’s pressed together using high pressure to bond the core with the top finish.” It’s that top finish, or wear layer, that lends laminates their ability to resist wear and scratches much more effectively than traditional hardwoods.
Just below the wear layer is the photograph layer, which is what gives the floor its actual appearance. It’s literally a printed image of any number of different types of surfaces, with hardwood, stone, and bamboo being among the most popular choices. At the base lies what’s known as underlayment. Much like a carpet pad, it’s an unseen but crucially important component of high-quality laminate flooring. Jeff emphasizes that you don’t want to skimp here, and Hackney Carpet prides itself on using premium underlayment. Jeff says, “It not only helps the homeowner with sound and the overall quality of a laminate, but it also helps our guys during installation.” According to Jeff, “Standard underlayment is just like a piece of plastic for moisture barrier, but it doesn’t really help with sound. I would suggest upgrading; you want to get a better underlayment because they’re better for acoustics as well as for moisture.”
Why Choose Laminate Flooring?
Now that we’ve got the technical stuff down, let’s turn to an examination of the benefits of laminate flooring to see why it’s become such a popular option for homeowners and businesses alike. “Versus traditional hardwood, laminate’s going to be more scratch resistant, easier to clean and maintain, and won’t indent as easily,” Jeff explains. “It’s made for a lot more wear and tear, and manufacturers have stepped up their game to improve the aesthetics as well as the function portion of them.”
Cleaning laminate flooring requires nothing more than a broom, mop, or vacuum, and as long as homeowners keep up with regular maintenance, they can expect their floors to last for many years to come. It’s these qualities that make laminate flooring an ideal option for high-traffic areas.
Jeff installs laminates in nearly every room of the house, but he doesn’t recommend them for home theater areas or rooms in which acoustics are important. He says, “I steer people away from that because, being a hard surface, the sound does not absorb. If someone watches television or has music, it causes all the sound to bounce off.” But as long as acoustics aren’t the top concern, laminates are ideal for basically the entire house. As an added bonus, the installation process is much faster and simpler than that of hardwood flooring, so the homeowner is less inconvenienced and can enjoy the new floor without too long of a wait.
Some Advice from an Expert
When laminate flooring was first produced back in 1977, it didn’t hold a candle to more traditional hardwoods, and it took some time to find its legs. As Jeff explains, “Price was always the dominant factor, and the quality suffered. Manufacturers started listening to the consumer, and people didn’t mind paying a little more for nice-looking products, products that would wear, products that would be durable.”
Given the advances in laminates, it only makes sense to take advantage of their benefits, so it’s important to “go with quality over price,” as Jeff says. “You can go with an inexpensive laminate just to save a buck, but you’ll find out why they’re less expensive.” The hollow sound that traditionally haunted yesterday’s laminate flooring is practically nonexistent in high-quality, thicker laminates. Premium underlayment aside, it’s that thickness that really dictates a laminate’s quality. “For a homeowner that really wants a nice product, I would recommend a minimum of a ten-millimeter laminate,” says Jeff. “It’s going to get rid of the hollow sound and be more forgiving, and it doesn’t have that loose feel or those artificial-looking edges that some of the inexpensive laminates will have.” What’s more, the wear layer is going to be thicker and will last longer. As with so many things, you get what you pay for when it comes to laminate floors.
Whether it’s the aesthetic appeal, the durability, or the ease of cleaning laminate flooring that’s made it so popular, there are plenty of reasons why it’s being used in more and more homes and businesses. Unless you get down on hands and knees and really take a close look, you probably won’t be able to tell that you’re not walking on real hardwood floors. But with so many advantages over other types of flooring, laminates aren’t just synthetic substitutes: they’re a world unto themselves.
This spotlight article was crafted with the help of Hackney Carpet, a Flooring Best Pick in Atlanta. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.