Monday, January 10, 2011

Laminate Flooring - Pros and Cons

Trying to make up your mind about laminate flooring? Here are some pros and cons.

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Laminate Flooring - Pros and Cons

Laminate flooring faithfully reproduces wood, stone, and other natural materials. Plus, laminate is easy to install. But there are a few negative aspects about laminate flooring. Let's look at all angles of laminate flooring.
Laminate Flooring - Pros

Easy to Install. Pergo says you can install 300 square feet in a weekend. Older types of laminate flooring required you to glue pieces to each other. Newer types of laminate flooring have a "click-lock" design. This "click-lock" design is often combined with a dry glue that is already on the product and requires just a swipe of a wet (with water) sponge or cloth to active it.

Very Durable Surface. Unlike wood, which can dent, laminate flooring is almost impervious to dents and scratches. Laminate flooring has what's called in the industry a "wear layer" that protects the photographic layer underneath. Some manufacturers, DuPont in particular, give very generous 10+ year warranties on this wear layer.

No Bad Pieces. Unlike real hardwood, which comes with many imperfect pieces that need to be thrown out or re-engineered, there are no defects in laminate flooring.

Good for Moist Places. Laminate flooring can be installed in bathrooms, kitchens, and other places where you encounter "topical moisture" (as Mannington calls it). But it will not tolerate standing pools of water. However, let's be clear that neither solid hardwood nor engineered wood can tolerate standing water, either. For heavy moisture, you need a very impervious surface like vinyl or tile.

Easy to Clean. Just use a vacuum or broom. Mop with a slightly damp mop. No floor waxing needed.

Resists Stains. Laminate flooring's tough surface resists stains. And if you do get a stain, it's easy to clean off.
Laminate Flooring - Cons

Not Real Wood. Some people are bothered by this, some aren't. Technically, there is wood in laminate flooring--a wood chip base layer. But, for all intents and purposes, laminate flooring isn't wood.

Hard Under Foot. Foam underlayment helps dampen this feeling, but it's still there.
Slippery. Traditionally, laminate flooring has been very slippery. More currently, though, manufacturers have been developing slip-resistent wear layers.

Lower Resale Value. Good hardwood or engineered wood gives better value when selling your house.

Not Sandable or Refinishable. This is probably the biggest disadvantage of laminate flooring. If laminate flooring is heavily worn, deep scratched, or grooved, it cannot be sanded or refinished like solid hardwood: it must be replaced.