Enjoy the beauty of a real timber look floor, without the maintenance and at a fraction of the cost. With today’s technologies, a good laminate floor can even fool the professionals. All flooring types have their own pros and cons, and it is up to you to decide what option best fits your home and lifestyle.
Laminate flooring is made up of multiple layers, fused together with a lamination process. The core of the plank is usually made of compressed wood, usually HDF. The denser and more compressed the core, the stronger the plank is. On top of this core, a photographic image of wood is applied and overlaid with hyper durable melamine protective layers. Today’s advanced technologies mean the best laminate floors are made to look exactly like real timber, with a wide variety of grains, styles and stains. Some ranges even have the texture of grains and knots applied, replicating the feel of real wood.
Similar to a wood floor, a good quality laminate floor can add value to a home come resale time. New owners are unlikely to need to carry out expensive flooring replacements before moving in as the timeless appeal of a wood style coupled with the easy maintenance of laminate makes it look as good as the day it was laid.
Price & quality
It can be tricky to tell a good laminate floor from a lesser quality variety. Price is the best indication – you get what you pay for. Remember that cheaper laminate flooring will tend to swell more aggressively. The strength and tightness of the joints can also be poor with budget laminates, further allowing the ingress of water during cleaning and spills.
The photographic layer of the board is also a clear sign of quality. Check the frequency of ‘panel repeat’. Low quality laminates will often have only 5-6 different panels per design making for a an unrealistic looking floor. Also, does the photograph of the ‘wood’ look real, imprinted or pixelated? Does the top coat over the photographic layer look like a real wood lacquer, or rather a plastic or milky film? Remember that a good quality laminate floor to the untrained eye, should look and even feel to the touch like real wood.
A good quality laminate floor is incredibly colour fast. This means that it will virtually never change colour. This is important for New Zealand homes due to our harsh UV conditions. You can have peace of mind about installing laminate in sunny rooms or that when you move your furniture or rug, there will be no 'tell-tale' patches left behind.
Laminate flooring uses a wood based core, as such most laminates can be damaged by water entering the joints, causing the core board to swell. Lower quality laminates will use core material that can swell aggressively with just a small amount of water, while high quality laminates use highly water-resistant core material that can resist water for hours. New generation water resistant laminates can be installed into bathrooms and laundries are now available. These products have a joint sealing technology that can resist water as well as strong guarantees against water damage.
Laminate floors are always installed as a floating floor over the top of a damp resistant underlay. This assists with protecting the planks from moisture that comes up through the subfloor. Good underlays can also help with footfall noise reduction, warmth and insulation. There is no specific subfloor that you can or cannot have for a laminate floor as long as the sub-floor is flat, dry, clean and stable.
To achieve the best looking finish, laminate flooring should be installed before skirting boards go on, or existing skirting boards removed ready for the floors installation. If this is not possible, undercutting may be required which is not aesthetically ideal, as it can change the size and height of the skirting.
It’s often a good idea to order a small amount of extra planking above and beyond what is needed for your installation. This can be retained and used for plank replacements in the event of repair in the future.
Laminate floors are very easy to look after, requiring very little maintenance beyond regular vacuuming or sweeping and mopping. You should never use a steam-mop on a laminate that is not water-resistant. Also, no sanding, oiling, lacquering or resurfacing of the floor is required. This makes laminate a hassle free option for busy households and those seeking a low maintenance home.
Laminate in the home
In the kitchen… laminate floors are very easy to look after, requiring very little maintenance beyond regular vacuuming or sweeping and mopping. You should never use a steam-mop on a laminate that is not water-resistant. Also, no sanding, oiling, lacquering or resurfacing of the floor is required. This makes laminate a hassle free option for busy households and those seeking a low maintenance home.
In the hallway… Perfect for entrance and hallways, laminate will withstand the constant movement and traffic with its hardwearing properties.
In the bedroom… A good choice for bedrooms, laminate will work well in this space. For chilly winter mornings place a sheepskin on the floor at your bedside for something warm to step onto, or an area rug for kids playing on their bedroom floor.
In the bathroom and laundry… As moisture and humidity are worst enemies of laminates, do not use it in these rooms unless it has a moisture resistant protective finish.
In the lounge… Laminate is well suited for lounges and living spaces. Team this with a rug to add texture or warmth if required.