What Is Laminate Flooring?

Today we are looking at what exactly is laminate flooring and is it a good choice for your Bluffton, South Carolina Home.

Many homeowners find it challenging to choose between hardwood flooring, carpet, and laminate flooring options. More and more people these days are focusing on laminate flooring as a beautiful and low-maintenance option for many areas in their homes.

What exactly is laminate flooring? Which styles and choices are available? What does the installation process look like? As the top laminate flooring installer in Bluffton, SC, we are your local flooring expert. Let’s take a look.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is a synthetic floor tile or plank made of (generally) four layers. The four layers that comprise a laminate plank are the backing layer, the core layer, the decorative layer, and the wear (or protectant) layer. Below is a closer look at what each of these layers do.

Synthetic floor tile or plank made of four layers

The Backing Layer: This layer, also known as the base layer, is where most of the support for the plank occurs. It may have an insulation layer attached to it or not.

The Core Layer: Often the hardest of the layers, the core layer helps the finished plank to remain beautiful by preventing most dings and dents, an advantage that laminate floors have over most types of hardwood or wood flooring.

The Decorative or Styling Layer: This is a photographic-type layer that gives the floor its wood-like look. The effect is generally faux wood, but faux stone is also available.

The Wear Layer: This is also referred to as the top layer. The wear layer protects the photographic layer and other layers from daily usage and wear and tear. The wear layer is what keeps the floor looking beautiful over its lifetime.

Engineered Laminate Flooring: Basically the same process, but the components differ. With engineered flooring, you are almost always dealing with real wood. The backing and core layers are usually from plywood or thin wooden planks with a thin veneer of natural wood adhered to those planks. The product is almost always factory finished with stain and sealant.

In terms of cost, plastic laminate flooring is generally cheaper than engineered wood laminate flooring.

Laminate Options

“Laminate options” is a big topic. It includes finishes, product type (laminate or engineered), grain options, texture options….it can almost be overwhelming!

Start with a few thoughts on your project.

Where is the floor located
  1. Where is the floor located? Living room, sunroom, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, hallway, etc.?
  2. How much traffic will the floor receive? Low, mid, high?
  3. How likely is it that water may come into contact with the floor? Laminate flooring generally is not waterproof or water-resistant, though some may contain a waterproofing layer. In areas where large amounts of water might be an issue, laminate flooring is probably not a great option. In a dining room where a glass of water might spill, as long as you clean up the fluid within a few minutes, it’s not an issue.
  4. What specific look and style are you considering? Think in terms of dark vs. light, textured vs. not.

Before you begin any major flooring project, whether it’s new construction, a total remodel, or simply a one-room makeover, you should start to think things over early. Before you come to visit our showroom, these are some things to consider.

Understanding the AC code

Abrasion Criteria, also known as the AC rating, has nothing to do with air conditioners. Instead, it is the rating given to laminate flooring in terms of how well it will stand up to wear and tear. AC1 is for low traffic and low use areas. AC5 is for the highest level of use and traffic. The scale ranges from AC1 (lowest) to AC5 (the highest).

Because laminate flooring is great for both home and commercial use, the scale includes both. AC1-AC3 are great for homes. AC4 and AC5 are perfect for your home or commercial building areas that receive the most significant amount of use. The good news is that you can find many of the same finishes and styles within the different Abrasion Criteria ratings. This means that you can mix and match if needed for different areas.

Laminate Flooring Installation SC

How Long Do Laminate Floors Last?

Generally, the flooring box indicates the length of time the floor’s warranty lasts, and that’s a reasonable estimation of how long the product will last. Of course, how you install it, the AC rating, the amount of usage, and how well you maintain and clean the flooring play a part. The low end of that scale can be as short as ten years. The long end can go beyond 30 years.

Laminate Flooring Installation

A floor has layers that include the subfloor, underlayment, and flooring. The subfloor is a vital part of the flooring process as it helps to stabilize the flooring, keep the room insulated, and support other functions of the home, such as conduits, drains, and the like. Underlayment is also essential, though not every floor requires an underlayment. Underlayment keeps the floor “solid” and helps decrease the noise the flooring makes.

It helps to absorb the sounds from walking on the floor. A poorly installed laminate floor can make a great deal of noise. It can squeak and moan and drive you batty! Installation of laminate where you are replacing the flooring may or may not need additional subflooring. As long as the subfloor is in good repair, it might not need extra work.

Does your laminate floor need underlayment?

It is usually a good idea to add underlayment during the installation of laminate flooring, especially in high-traffic areas or areas where water and laminate may meet. If you want to decrease floor noise and movement, then underlayment is a must.

As the laminate flooring installer homeowners love in Bluffton, SC, we offer complete installation of laminate and engineered wood flooring, as well as all other types of flooring. Need design ideas? Need help choosing the right flooring? We can help. Give us a call or drop by our showroom. We work with projects of all sizes including new builds, remodels, and renovations.

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