Advantages of Choosing Laminate Floors

By: Jason Ashby

New floors can update or completely change the mood and ambience of any room. The popular decorating magazines are stocked with glossy pages of rooms with beautiful floors of wood, stone, tile and ceramic. But, you're thinking, those beautiful natural materials are so expensive!

Welcome to the world of laminate floors.

Laminates are an affordable alternative to hardwood, stone or tiled floors. Laminate floors are made by embedding a high quality photograph of wood, stone or another pattern between a subsurface and a transparent layer of melamine or cellulose. The subsurface is generally several layers thick, and gives the flooring strength, body and stability. The top surface is usually buffed to a high, hard gloss that resists scratching and marring, and stands up to years of wear and tear in a way that wood or stone can't. It's the middle layer - the actual image - that makes these floors wear like iron. Unlike most other floors that only have the image on the surface, the image layer of a good quality laminate floor is several millimeters thick - and the image goes clear through it. You can find laminate floors in a wide variety of styles and patterns that mimic nearly any other surface you can imagine.

A well-made laminate floor can be practically indistinguishable from marble, teak, oak or other far more expensive surfaces - but they offer advantages that non-laminated floors can't give you.

VersatilityWant a wood floor in your bathroom, or your high traffic family room, but the experts have told you it's a no-no? A wood laminate floor can give you the look that you want without the worry. Because wood laminates have a moisture resistant finish, they won't be damaged by those steamy showers that you love. They also won't expand and contract the way that wood does, so you don't have to worry about giving your floors 'ease' room. As for that family room? A laminate floor will stand up to the punishment that your kids can give it - even those skateboard races that you don't allow.

Easy CareHave you read the care instructions for real hardwood floors? Buffing, oiling, waxing, polishing and finishing - you could spend half your life keeping your wood floor looking good. Stone floors are almost as bad - ask any janitor in a public building about the daily polishing that marble floors require. Not your laminate floor. Just sweep them regularly to keep dirty grit off of them, damp mop them to pick up any spills and their beautiful shine will last for years.

Allergen and Odor ResistantOne of the most often quoted reasons for replacing your wall to wall carpets with wood or stone floors is to get rid of allergens and odors that cling to the fibers. Laminate floors are odor resistant, and don't give dust mites a place to breed. And unlike wood and stone, they don't require hours and hours of buffing and polishing to keep them looking good.

Easy RepairAccidents do happen. If something damages your wood or stone floor, replacing one section can be a major undertaking. Repairing a laminate floor is usually as easy as removing and replacing the damaged plank or tile.

Easy to InstallInstalling a new stone or hardwood floor is not a do-it-yourself project. It requires expertise and know-how that most homeowners don't have. Laminate floors, on the other hand, are nearly as easy to install as place and press tiles - and they look a whole lot better.

DurableWood laminate veneers stand up to the kind of wear that would leave wood floors covered with nicks and scratches. The high impact finish will tolerate the worst that your family can dish out without showing the wear. Your new laminate floor will still have a beautiful gloss years after wood floors need refinishing.

Design Tips and TricksIf you specifically want a floor with the look and feel of natural wood, you also have a third option that falls between hardwood floors and one of laminated wood - engineered wood floors. Strictly speaking, engineered wood floors are a sub-type of laminate floors. Engineered wood is made of several wafer thin layers of wood set at cross grain and compressed under high pressure. It may also be impregnated with acrylic to make it more durable. Engineered wood floors are more expensive than other laminates, but less expensive than solid wood flooring. They're an excellent choice if the look that you want includes parquet borders and insets.

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