If you want the look of marble or bamboo flooring in your home, but cannot justify the cost, then laminate flooring is what you are looking for. Probably the biggest advantage of laminate flooring is its cost. Here, we discuss laminate flooring, both advantages and disadvantages, and what to look for in laminate flooring.
The Case For Laminate Flooring
For remodeling a kitchen on a budget, laminate flooring is often the best choice. It is durable, easy to clean, and the many styles and colors can almost duplicate more expensive floor treatments. Because of its versatility, it comes in different grades for the home. These grades, which are approved by The Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (ELPF), are guidelines for every area of the home. Called AC hardness ratings, they range in number from AC1, which is designed for low traffic areas such as a bedroom, to AC5, which can be used in heavy traffic areas such as a commercial enterprise. Your choice is determined by the area of the home in which you would install the flooring – for example an AC3, which is suitable for just about any high traffic area of the home. Here, price is the guideline.
Laminate flooring is made up of several layers of material, which include a moisture resistant layer under a layer of high density fiberboard. The process is finished with a high resolution photographic image of natural wood flooring, making it almost undetectable from actual hardwood flooring. The good thing about laminate flooring is that it does not need to be installed above grade, as hardwood or other types of flooring must.
Laminate flooring does not require special cleaners or polishes to maintain it. In fact, manufacturer’s recommend that you don’t use abrasive cleansers or soap based detergents on this flooring. A dust mop or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush is sufficient to clean it, followed by a damp mop and drying with a soft cloth. Stubborn stains such as tar or oil can be cleaned with acetone, or fingernail polish, followed by wiping with a damp cloth.
Because of the nature of its design, manufacturers recommend that some caution be used on a laminate floor installation. You should not wear stiletto heels when walking on the floor. Tables and other objects with concentrated weight on the flooring should utilize felt pads to avoid denting of the surface. If heavy appliances must be moved, care should be taken to avoid damage, and a sheet of plywood placed on the floor to protect the laminate.
Although this may sound like a lot of extra work in the home, the cost savings are well worth the extra effort to maintain a laminate floor. A beautiful floor is the key to the ambiance of a room, and laminate flooring fits the bill. In the next part of this series, we discuss the installation of laminate flooring.
Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.