What is Laminate?
Most people are very familiar with Laminate counter tops. In North America
we have several manufacturers who have become household names, such as
Formica. In fact, most people refer to their counters as a "Formica" counter
top. These same people have no idea that this is not a "kind" of counter,
but rather a manufacturer of this type of surface. This existing technology
has been transformed in such a way that we can now make flooring out of the
essentially the same material.
By adding 'resins',
extremely wear resistant top layers, and a center core, Laminate Floors were
born. These products have been in Europe for 20 to 30 years but are now
making a major impact in North America. Laminate Flooring is simply a
multi-layered; wood based floating floor system.
Typically Laminate floors consist of the following layers from top to
- Wear layer
- Pattern, "image"
- Processed wood
core: usually M.D.F. (medium density fiber board) or H.D.F. (high density
- Balancing layer
(usually with a moisture barrier)
These layers are manufactured into flooring by one of two methods. They are
either High Pressure Laminates (HPL), or Direct Pressure Laminates (DPL).
With the DPL method, all the layers are bonded together under extreme heat
and pressure at one time. HPL is done in more than one step. Typically the
wear layer and image layer are bonded together, and than those two layers
are bonded to the core in a separate step.
Most Laminates come in Planks 7" to 8" wide and approximately 4' long. Due
to the nature of the planks, manufacturers have focused the styling of the
product to reflect the shape of the plank and therefore have concentrated on
duplicating wood looks in various species of wood. Several companies have
also tried to imitate natural stones or copy the look of ceramic tiles,
including grout lines in some cases. Laminate floors are sold in packages of
15 to 36 S.F. but are typically retailed by square foot pricing.
Most carry wear warranties ranging form 10 to 25 years but new products are
starting to introduce "Lifetime" warranties. Several products on the market
also have "water" or "moisture" warranties. It is very important to check
with the manufacturer as to EXACTLY what their warranty does and does not
cover. Do not be afraid to ask questions. All major manufacturers have toll
free information phone lines, websites etc. You are their customer and they
are available to answer your inquiries.
Installations can either be with or without glue depending on the product
you choose, and you have the option to hire a professional or
Laminate floors are here to stay. No other flooring will allow the
versatility of having a "cherry" and "ceramic tile" pattern - together as
one floor, "floating" over concrete in a basement rec.-room. Laminate floors
look great, are easy to maintain, value priced and durable.