Laminate Flooring FAQ

You Have Questions…we Have Answers

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate is an affordable, multilayered flooring product made from tightly compressed wood fiber and designed to look like wood or other natural materials. Laminate flooring products typically have four layers: the backing layer, the core layer, the image layer, and the wear layer.

The backing can vary depending on the product but is often made of cork, felt or another soft product to allow the laminate to sit comfortably on the floor. The core layer is typically comprised of recycled wood fibers tightly compressed into a dense wood-like core, sometimes referred to as a high-density fiber (HDF) core.

The image layer is where the desired look (e.g. wood, stone) is printed onto the product and texture is added through a process called ‘embossing’ to make it feel similar to the material it is made to look like. The wear layer is a clear protective layer manufactured on top of the image layer. The wear layer is often made from aluminum oxide and designed to prevent the floor from scratching or showing excessive wear over time.

Higher quality laminate products often boast an extra resilient wear layer that makes the product scratch, dent and fade resistant.

Is laminate flooring the same as engineered hardwood?

No. Engineered wood is real wood, while laminate is not. The two are sometimes confused because they are both made in layers, and the look of modern laminates is deceivingly realistic.

Where can laminate floors be installed?

Almost anywhere! Laminate has very few installation restrictions. Because it snaps together as a floating floor it can be installed over a wood subfloor, concrete or tile.

Is an underlayment required for a laminate floor?

Using underlayment between the subfloor and the laminate boards is not required, but it is highly recommended. An underlayment will help smooth out an uneven subfloor and cushion boards to reduce noise and premature wear. Many condominiums require the use of an underlayment that will dampen sound.

Is it true that laminate floors are loud to walk on?

Without a sound-absorbing underlayment, laminate floors will click more than natural woods when tapped or walked on with hard-soled shoes. We regularly use a sound-absorbing underlayment with our laminate installations.

Is laminate flooring waterproof?

In some cases, yes, but not always. Some laminate products on the market advertise themselves as waterproof but typically laminate floors are not. We think water resistant is a better term for laminate floors. With many laminate floors, water can cause major damage, especially if the water soaks into the wood pulp core causing it to expand and damage the rest of the plank and those planks around it. There are many waterproof vinyl plank alternatives to laminate that will perform similar or better than laminate, and resist water damage, at a similar price point.

Are laminate floors less expensive than hardwood floors?

As a general rule, yes. There are, however, high quality laminate products that are more expensive than lower quality hardwoods.

I’ve seen really cheap laminate flooring being sold on the Internet. Is this the same laminate flooring found in flooring retail stores?

No. There’s one thing you should be careful of when buying a laminate floor: quality. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cheap laminate products being imported from countries such as China, so it’s important to buy from a reputable and reliable retailer and to buy the best you can afford, depending upon the setting.

How should I clean my laminate floors?

Even though they are known for being durable, laminate floors must be maintained. Regular sweeping or vacuuming is recommended to remove dirt and dust. Damp mopping will also help to keep floors clean, though excessive water should be avoided and floors should be wiped dry after mopping is complete. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or soap-based detergents that can dull or damage laminate. When in doubt, follow manufacturer recommendations on cleaning products and practices.