What about Laminate Flooring

America’s love affair with laminate flooring began in 1994 with the introduction of PERGO…and it’s still going strong today. As with any successful product, other manufacturers – old and new – soon began producing their own version of laminate flooring, or mimicking the original. Currently, there are so many products offered by so many manufacturers that deciding on a brand is practically a Mission Impossible. But fear not, laminate floor-seeking agents, I am here to assist you. I will guide you through the maze and help you locate your ideal laminate flooring.


Laminate flooring is a plank type floor, constructed of different layers. Usually, the top layer or “wear layer” is clear. It is a low or high density laminate, depending on the manufacturer and style — similar to a counter top laminate.

Although it is similar to a counter top laminate, it is, in most cases, anywhere from 10% to 40% stronger than counter tops, and more resistant to scratches, burns, chipping, dents, etc.

The second layer is usually the design or decorative layer which gives it the unique look of wood, or in some cases, tile flooring. Some laminate floor manufacturers add a third or “base” layer for greater stability.

All of these layers are fused by heat and pressure to a high density core. Some cores are constructed of high density fiber, and some are constructed of wood particles.

Manufacturers argue amongst themselves that one core type is better than the other. We’ve found them to be fairly equal — both have some minor good and bad points. For example, while the high density fiber core may be slightly more structurally sound, the high density wood particle core absorbs the glue slightly better, creating a tighter seal between the joints.

Our opinion is that as long as they’re manufactured properly by one of the large major manufacturers, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Because of its layered construction laminate floor is much cheaper than its hardwood counterpart. The visible layer is the pattern layer and is protected by a thin layer of laminate, usually made of aluminum oxide, which is resistant to scratches, burns, chipping, dents, etc. and most importantly, suitable for foot traffic. The pattern layer is made from a screen that is created to replicate the look of real wood or tile. The core layer is created using High Density Fiber which is moisture resistant and durable. The HDF layer is very difficult to scratch or stain and houses the locking system which aids in the installation of the floor.
All laminate flooring is installed using the free-floating method which means the laminate flooring simply lies on top of the sub-floor. This makes it easy to install as well as uninstall on a wide variety of sub floors. While some brands still make glue together planks most have switched to a no glue locking system which allows the planks to snap together in no time. Since the majority of laminate floor choices are glue-less individual planks can be replaced when needed making it extremely affordable to maintain. Its glue-less floating installation also makes it easy to self install for the do-it-yourselfers.

Product “AC” ratings

If you choose laminate flooring manufactured in Europe, most likely you will find that it has an “AC” rating. These ratings are part of a standard developed by the Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF). The ratings range from AC1 to AC5, with an AC1 indicating the lowest durability level. Flooring with an AC1 rating would be suitable for a low traffic, residential area, like a bedroom. At the other end of the spectrum, AC5 rated flooring would be suited for a heavy traffic, commercial applications.

To give you an idea of some actual ratings, Pergo’s Vintage Home Special, Witex’s Basis, and all of Stepco’s product lines carry an AC3 rating. This means that all of them are suitable for heavy residential or moderate commercial use. The Laura Ashley line of laminate flooring by Witex is rated AC4, meaning it is suitable for general commercial use.

It is important to note that any rating higher then AC3 is overkill for residential use. It will be reflected in the pricing and will probably put you well over budget..

Design Choices

Although laminate flooring’s range of prices is considerably wide, it pales in comparison to the range of design choices. If you’re looking for a wood design, for example, you’ll find replicas of virtually every species under the sun, and you’ll find them displayed in a variety of ways. There are single-strip, two-strip and three-strip designs with square edges, beveled edges and micro-beveled edges. You’ll find them with different surface treatments and finishes, and you’ll find them made primarily for no-glue, click together installations – though a rare glue together product may still exist. But wood designs are not the only choices available.

Laminate flooring is also available in a variety of ceramic tile and stone designs. Like the wood designs, the selection offers plenty of colors and patterns to choose from, and the installation method will most likely be the no-glue, click together type.

Regardless of your design preference, it is highly advisable that you actually see the product before making your purchase. Photographs of laminate flooring designs can look fantastic in a full-color, glossy brochure or on a website. But surface photos will not give you a true representation of the product – nor will they give you a look at the quality of the construction. The only way to see that is with a sample, and manufacturers will be happy to send them on request.

Professional flooring contractor, Pergo endorsed installed and California State licensed contractors providing floor covering in laminate, vinyl, ceramic tile and much more. Need wood flooring, laminate floors, wood floors or simply home improvements let us know and we can help you immediately.