Updated: November 2017
Laminate Flooring Reviews:As more homeowners take on do it yourself projects, they find that certain upgrades are easier than others. Installing laminate floors is something that many DIY's can do by themselves or with the help of a few friends. Laminate floors have become a popular home upgrade since they are easy to put in and don't take nearly as long as when installing hardwood floors or real tile or stone. You get all the same characterstics of real wood and stones for much cheaper. Laminate floors are easy to care for since they are moisture and scratch resistant. Homeowners can choose from dozens of colors, textures, and wood and natural stone looks. Laminate flooring originated in Europe but consumers in North America have really taken to these great looking floors in recent years. The square tiles come in different sizes and the plank widths on the laminate wood floors vary to give you a unique design. Manufacturers of laminate flooring have made it so the top layer is very durable and almost completely resistant to spills, burns, and stains. The resins put in the "wear layer" of laminate floors can be "as hard as diamonds" says one flooring site.
Buying Guide - The main reason people put laminate floors into their homes is because installation is fairly easy and minimal setup work is required. Laminate floors get installed by "floating" the planks over the majority of substrates like concrete slabs, OSB, plywood, and certain types of floor coverings that already exist. The tongue and groove design lets you lock the tiles or planks together making for a solid floor surface. Keep in mind that the laminate floors are not attached to the sub floor directly. Laminate floors, for the most part, are glueless and just snap securely together for a tight fit. Do-it-yourselfers appreciate the glueless installation technique of laminate flooring making it quick and easy to accomplish. There are certain types of laminate flooring that come from the factory already pre-glued. Just put a slightly wet sponge on them to get the adhesive surface sticky again. Since laminate floors are susceptible to water damage, many experts recommend not installing them in bathrooms or kitchen areas unless you fill the grooves in the floors with a special waterproof glue. Laminate floors have padding underneath to help keep them quiet and comfortable to walk on. The spacers that come in the laminate flooring kit will help guide you through the process of how to fit the pieces together in a professional style. The most popular laminate flooring brands are from Pergo, Wilsonart, Dupont, Mohawk, Shaw, Armstrong, Witex, Alloc, Mannington, and Quick-Step. Once your laminate floors have been installed, they should last for years with minimal care. Make sure you NEVER polish or wax these floors, just vacuum often with a brushless vacuum. The one big advantage for laminate floors over hardwood flooring is that laminates are fairly dent resistant compared to hardwoods. I have hardwood floors in most of my house and have found that certain types of woods are more suspectible to denting, please check with your local store or contractor on the best dent resistant hardwoods or laminates. Some laminate flooring is as cheap as $.59 square foot but many of the varieties we found are closer to $1.20-$1.75 (like the Pergo Red Oak Laminate Flooring). Pergo laminate flooring is probably the most popular brand available and we found several homeowners that bought them at Ikea stores. Armstrong laminate flooring is another top selling brand with several styles available on Fastfloors.com from $1.29 SQ FT to $3.20 SQ foot. You may not know it, but Amazon carries a bunch of laminate flooring products in their home improvement department - Armstrong, Pergo, Wilsonart, Vintage Home. You can browse their best-selling laminate flooring section here.
Best Laminate Flooring:
When choosing a laminate floor, keep in mind the "AC" rating that all floors have. The rating is a basic # assigned to the floor for how durable it is. For example, an "AC1" rating means it has the lowest durability level and would be best used in low-traffic residential areas (perhaps a bedroom). AC5 ratings are for commercial environments with heavy traffic. An AC3 rating is best for heavy traffic areas in residential homes and what most consumers go with. The DuPont Real Touch premium laminate flooring is a popular choice offered at Home Depot stores nationwide. With their exclusive Interplank Design the laminate floors have "virtually seamless joints" and the MicroBevel technology will bring your floors to life with added depth. The glueless laminate flooring from Dupont will prolong the life of your floors and it's called Joint Guard. The floors come with pre-installed foam underlayment so that the comfort level is raised and the noise levels are reduced. They give you a 30 year warranty on the floors. Pergo's Vintage Home Special, Witex's Basis, and all of Stepco's product lines carry an AC3 rating which is more than enough for residential use. The Pergo Vintage Home Traditional laminate flooring is about $3 per square foot while the Witex Basis is close to $1.50. The Stepco laminate flooring runs from $1.40 to $1.75 per SQ Ft. and they offer a no-glue, click together Laminate Loc planking design for easy installs.