Laminate flooring has traditionally been seen as the ‘budget’ option for homeowners and landlords looking to save a quick buck. There is a reason, however, that laminate flooring options continue to win fans across the globe. Indeed, there are many. As an alternative to real hardwood flooring, laminate is not only more affordable, durable and hygienic – there is also a range of benefits you might not have anticipated.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is the cost of laminate flooring. When compared to flooring options with a similar aesthetic, laminate offers perhaps the best compromise between quality and cost. Whereas hardwood flooring and even carpet can prove costly due to the not only the material cost but the installation cost, laminate flooring is a much more cost-effective option. It’s made from pressed wood with a plastic veneer over a photorealistic image and can be installed by anyone with even a cursory knowledge of DIY by simply clicking it into place like a jigsaw puzzle. As such, laminate flooring is a choice that will undoubtedly save you a pretty penny and could end up giving your home a more unique and expressive character.
Hardwood can look and feel spectacular, but it also requires a stunning amount of upkeep. Imagine spending hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds on a complete hardwood flooring solution, only to have the family dog scratch it beyond recognition within weeks. Laminate floors, meanwhile or that much more durable than hardwood or even carpet, due to the thin plastic ‘wear layer’ that protects the main photographic layer and the pressed wood beneath it. As such, for areas that experience particularly high traffic (or for any house that’s home to pets or young children), laminate flooring is often the most sensible option. The only real drawback is that it can’t be sanded and refinished like real hardwood, but the flexibility and amount of design choices available (see below) should offset that fact.
Laminate is not only more durable, but it also lasts a lot longer than your average carpet. It’s also a lot easier to repair, as often you might only need to replace a single board by snapping the broken board out and snapping a new board in. With a hardwood floor or a carpet, meanwhile, the repair would typically be a lot more problematic. Depending on the manufacturer, your laminate should also be shipped with a generous warranty of 15 Year, 20 Years, 25 Years, or even 30 Years, depending on customer choice. Typically, new laminate flooring should maintain its factory fresh qualities for around 15 years, but only if you manage the upkeep with weekly vacuuming and sweeping, not to mention taking care of any cracks or stains that might occur through heavy use.
The concept of laminate is to replicate the look of natural materials like wood and stone for a fraction of the price. You might not be able to get the same feel, but whatever look you desire, there is bound to be a suitable laminate flooring option to compliment your home. Not only is laminate available in hundreds of different designs and patterns, making it ideal for all areas of your home, but it’s free of the natural imperfections found in real hardwood flooring. This means that every board used will look consistent and your floor will have a more contemporary, uniform look. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you don’t install two boards side-by-side that have identical patterns, and for some, it’s the beauty in the imperfection that makes a hardwood floor so desirable. However, for those who simply want the aesthetic of hardwood without the complications and the price, the various laminate design options should prove more than satisfactory.
Easy to install
Whereas you once needed to glue laminate floor together, modern laminate is far easier to install and certainly requires less effort than the installation of hardwood or carpet. The vast majority of laminate flooring options on the market today are manufactured with tongue and groove locking systems that can be snapped together comfortably and quickly without the need to hire in a professional fitter. As the boards are formed from a softer wood, they can also be cut easily with a hand saw if required. Of course, whilst installing laminate flooring does take comparatively less effort than other flooring options, it’s still a job that should be undertaken with some care. If you try to force the boards, for examples, you might risk damaging the top protective layer. So, take it slow and make sure you have some assistance if you’re in any way uncertain about the job.
Easy to clean
Cleaning laminate flooring is remarkably straightforward and doesn’t require the use of any special waxes to maintain that factory-fresh sheen. Simply use a vacuum cleaner or a broom to suck and sweep up dry detritus and use a mop or specialist laminate floor cleaner to take care of any stains. Take heed, however, that when using water you’ll want to make sure you use as little as possible, as if water manages to find its way between the boards it can lead to swelling. Indeed moisture should be something you remain vigilant of at all times, as whilst it can resist some water, laminate is not completely water-proof.
For those clean freaks amongst us or those that have a particular vulnerability to allergens, laminate is the preferred flooring option to carpet, which can trap not only dirt and dust particles but allergens too. Carpet absorbs unpleasant odours and moisture but also tends to trap dust, pollen and pet hair. Laminate flooring, meanwhile, is wipe-clean and won’t trap any harmful bacteria. This is why it is often such a popular choice in kitchens. Indeed, you might not want to eat off your laminate floor, but you’d probably be safer eating off it than the average living room carpet.
Not only can laminate flooring be cleaned safely without the use of harmful chemicals, modern floating floor installations mean that no glues or adhesives are used either. This is better for the environment and better for your home. The material itself is also sustainable, as the layers beneath the protection and picture layer are all built from composite wood made from sawdust and wood chips that have been pressed together using intense heat and high pressure. There are no natural materials being harvested in the creation of laminate flooring, making it perhaps the most environmentally friendly of all flooring options. Once the flooring reaches the end of its lifecycle, meanwhile, it can easily be repurposed or recycled due to the lack of chemicals in the design.
Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood
- Laminate flooring and hardwood both provide a similar aesthetic value but the former is far more affordable and convenient than the latter.
- Hardwood and laminate can both feel hard underfoot, but placing underlay under a laminate floor gives it a softer, springier and overall more comfortable feel.
- Laminate flooring will be more slippy than hardwood, as it lacks the texture. Laminate flooring manufacturers have developed slip-resistant layers in recent years, however.
- By their very nature, hardwood floors will always be imperfect, whereas laminate floors will always look quite literally picture-perfect.
- A hardwood floor will always feel unique and will offer an authenticity that laminate will never be able to truly match.
- Hardwood is made from harvested trees, so is not only that much more expensive than laminate but is much less environmentally friendly too.
- Hardwood flooring is very susceptible to scratches and will not get along with water at all. Laminate, meanwhile, is man-made to last.
- If looked after well, hardwood will last for decades, but it requires a lot of effort when it comes to upkeep. Laminate is a comparative cakewalk.
- Hardwood is not easy to install and will require a professional fitter if you want the job done right.
- Whilst modern laminate will include UV protection, hardwood will fade over time.
Laminate Flooring vs Vinyl
- Laminate accurately reproduces the effect of real materials, whereas vinyl is more obviously a man-made solution.
- Vinyl might be almost as durable as laminate and isn’t as prone to scratching, but it is far more likely to be torn or dented by heavy furniture.
- Vinyl will always fade over time, whereas laminate will retain its vibrancy for much longer. Whilst the fading can be mitigated by limiting exposure to sunlight, there is no way to prevent it from happening eventually.
- Vinyl is waterproof, which means it might be your preferred choice for a bathroom.
- Laminate can be installed simply without chemicals, whereas vinyl flooring often requires the use of adhesives to stick it into place.
- Laminate offers a more comprehensive selection of choices.
- Vinyl offers greater sound absorptive qualities than laminate.
- Laminate will contribute to the resale value of your home, whereas vinyl has the reputation of “looking cheap” and could actually harm your resale value.
- Vinyl can feel very cold underfoot, whereas laminate (when installed with an underlay) if more comfortable and toasty underfoot. It can also be installed above underfloor heating due to the lack of chemical adhesives.
- They are comparable when it comes to price so the decision shouldn’t be a financial one, but a personal aesthetic one.