Laminate Flooring (go to products)
The Four Basic Elements of a Quality Laminate Floor: Density, Thickness, Texture, and Treated Bevels
Many people assume all laminates are equal, but they aren’t. Far from it, actually. As the customer, you are in control when it comes to color and design, but what about quality? Quality ranges from acceptable to totally unacceptable. Knowing more about laminates will assure you of long-term satisfaction with your choices.
A laminate floor fails not because the surface wears out — that is quite rare — but because the mechanical locking systems in some flooring permit micro movement. This slight opening of the seams allows fine grit and dirt to get in-between the seams; when that happens, the boards never close quite as tightly again and a build-up of fine dirt and grim begins.
Eventually you start seeing a gap around each board that is outlined with this fine dirt. If any moisture gets in, that fine grit and dirt turns dark, and the gap is emphasized. To prevent this gap, get a laminate floor made with a high-density core that is thick enough to allow the click system to have enough locking integrity. With a patented, recognized click system, the laminate floor stays together with no micro movement. Your floor will stay looking new throughout the life of the floor. When you are out looking at laminates, click the samples together, and if it wiggles…run!
Remember when refrigerators were made with smooth enamel finishes? Everyone was constantly nagged about handprints (or footprints, depending upon how you closed the fridge door). Then textured enamel was invented, and the problem was solved. Melamine, the hard-wearing finish on a laminate floor, is similar to that textured enamel. Texture on the surface hides those marks.
The reason laminates have such a wide range of prices is that bargain laminate is typically made of low or medium density core, is thinner, and has no texture. Even some higher-end laminates are made with medium density cores. Ask about the core density. Texture can easily be seen and felt, and we suggest a minimum of 8 mm (about 3/8 inch) for thickness. You will be able to see and feel these basics.
A forth element to a quality laminate is how the beveled edges are handled during manufacture. The most sophisticated plank laminates are often beveled for aesthetics and most importantly these floors always look flat to the eye. Beveled plank laminates truly look more like the real thing. Melamine, the material that creates that wonderful rugged surface on all laminates, cannot bend to the bevel. This inability is not a problem because you cannot walk on the bevels, but in order for the floor to be maintenance-free those the bevels need to be treated with vinyl. On lesser quality laminates, those bevels are merely painted and they will not be maintenance free. Run your fingers down the bevel; if it is smooth, it is treated with vinyl and it’s a good quality floor; if it is raspy and rough, it is painted and the dirt and grime will stick. Dropped food and liquid is inevitable in a kitchen, so a quality beveled laminate will release the inevitable dirt.
At FloorsForLess.com all our laminate floors, even our basic one, has all elements of quality flooring. If want to ensure a good choice, come see us and we’ll take the time for you to see and feel the difference.