If you’re planning to update the floors in your home, laminate flooring can be an excellent choice. This durable flooring comes in a wide variety of colors, styles, and quality levels. Before you take the plunge and remodel your home, it’s important to know more about this type of flooring so you can decide if it’s right for you. From style and brand names to the pros and cons, read on to discover everything you need to know about laminate flooring.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a hybrid floor, which means it consists of several materials in one. These floors are made of a particleboard wood base that’s topped with an “image layer” and a protective coat to keep it protected. This flooring can be installed in any room of your home, which makes it easy to create a seamless look. Laminate flooring was invented in 1977, but it’s still a popular product that’s widely used in many homes today. A combination of heat, high pressure, and binding chemicals is what makes laminate so unique. Many brand names including Mohawk, Shaw, and Armstrong offer laminate flooring to contractors and homeowners.
Types and Styles of Laminate Floors
You can find laminate flooring in a wide variety of formats, sizes, and styles. Whether it’s an update to your kitchen or the entire home, there are a few key features to look for to ensure you choose the right laminate flooring for your needs. The two main types of laminate floors are either made of engineered wood or plastic. With engineered wood laminate floors, you can refinish the flooring a few times by sanding down the top layer and applying a new finish. Plastic laminate cannot be refinished, but it’s typically less expensive than laminate wood. Both will give you the look of real wood without the need for excess maintenance. Unlike hardwood, you don’t need to apply a sealant to laminate floors.
These floors come in various thickness levels from 6 to 12 mm. The measurement is taken from the base to the top of the board and doesn’t include the underlayment. The thicker your floors, the more impact-resistant they’ll be. Thicker laminate is also better at reducing noise, which makes it ideal for installation on the second floor. You can find laminate floors in a plank style that recreates the look of real wood. Laminate floor tiles are ideal if you prefer the aesthetic of stone or ceramic tile in your home. You can also choose between a matte or glossy finish, depending on your desired look. Shop around to find the right laminate flooring composition, thickness, and design.
Kitchen Laminate Flooring
If you’re installing laminate flooring in the kitchen, choose a color that will easily coordinate with your cabinets and countertops. Make sure an underlayment is installed first to protect the subfloor from moisture and damage. To keep your kitchen laminate flooring clean, wipe up or blot spills immediately. Regular dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming of the floors will keep debris and food from scratching the protective layer and will reduce the buildup of dirt and grime.
Grey Laminate Flooring
When it comes to trendy colors, grey is a popular option. You can find grey laminate flooring in a range of shades from weathered and light to dark and modern. Grey laminate flooring will add a contemporary look to your home, and it does a great job at hiding imperfections. Make sure you select a grey color that will work well with your wall colors, furniture, and other décor. Most grey laminate flooring is designed to look like wood with a grey finish. This will create a rustic, warm look and feel in any room of your home.
Bathroom Laminate Flooring
When it comes to choosing laminate flooring for your bathroom, make sure you select a style that’s water-resistant. Choose flooring with a quality protective layer that won’t allow water to penetrate beneath the floors. Some brands offer impressive warranties on their flooring, so choose a manufacturer that will help you protect your investment by including a 10-year warranty or longer. Since laminate has a smooth surface, make sure you add bathroom rugs to avoid unexpected slips and falls.
Laminate Flooring on Walls
You might be surprised to learn that you can add laminate flooring to walls, too. The shiplap look is extremely popular, and you can recreate this aesthetic by installing laminate instead of wood for a fraction of the price. Choose a laminate that features an authentic wood-look pattern or print. You can add the laminate to your walls with caulk and a nail gun for a fantastic feature wall. Measure and cut the laminate planks to the correct width before attaching them to your walls for a perfect fit. Make sure you leave a small gap between pieces to allow the material to expand and contract without causing it to buckle or come loose.
Mohawk Laminate Flooring
There are countless brands that manufacture laminate flooring, but Mohawk is one of the industry leaders. In fact, Mohawk makes one of the largest assortments of laminate flooring to accommodate every style and every budget. This flooring comes in over 100 different products to choose from, and they’re grouped into three different collections. Explore the variety of colors and styles from Mohawk to help you find the perfect design for your space. This flooring is extremely durable and water-resistant, making it a prime choice for many homeowners. When installed correctly, Mohawk laminate flooring should last for 10 to 15 years. The brand also offers a lifetime limited warranty on their products.
The Pros & Cons of Laminate Flooring
As with any home project or finish, there are several benefits and drawbacks to installing laminate flooring in your home. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons to give you a clearer idea of whether laminate flooring is right for you.
- Laminate comes in planks or tiles, which makes it easy to recreate your desired look.
- Laminate flooring is easy to install with edges and ends that snap together. No nails are required which means you can install laminate flooring yourself as an easy DIY upgrade.
- The thin foam cushion underlayment makes laminate quiet and comfortable to walk on.
- No trees are used to manufacture laminate flooring, which means it’s a good option if you’re concerned about issues like deforestation and sustainability.
- No VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are released from laminate since there is no need to use glue or other adhesives.
- Laminate is exceptionally durable, making it a prime choice for busy households. It’s also very easy to keep clean with regular sweeping and occasional mopping.
- While laminate flooring is affordable, it’s not usually the prime choice for homebuyers, who typically prefer hardwood or tile.
- Laminate is vulnerable to moisture damage so it should not be installed in basements or areas where a lot of moisture is present.
- If you want to install laminate in the bathroom, all of the edges must be glued, and the perimeter must be sealed with caulk at installation.
- If you’re concerned about the environment, the protective wear layer on laminate is not biodegradable.
The Best Laminate Flooring
It’s important to choose the best laminate flooring for your home so you’re happy with the outcome. Whether it’s the color, thickness, or style, many brands offer high-quality, durable flooring that will last for years into the future. Here are some key features to look for so that you select the best possible laminate flooring for your abode:
- Installation: Look for laminate flooring that features a locking system that will prevent moisture from seeping into the planks. The interlocking edges also make installation an easy, seamless process.
- Sealant: The best laminate flooring includes a highly durable and water-resistant sealant that’s applied to the top layer for added protection.
- Durability: Most laminate floors are durable but aim for one with a rating of AC4 which means that your floors can handle heavy foot traffic and plenty of wear and tear without showing scratches or other damage.
- Water-Resistance: A quality laminate floor resists spills and stains and can be enjoyed in areas like the bathroom or kitchen without worrying about water damage.
- Variety: Quality laminate brands offer consumers a range of styles, colors, and designs. Make sure you choose a laminate that comes in the shade or design you prefer.
- Finish: Whether you love the look of high shine or a muted matte, high-quality laminate should come in the finish of your choice with the perfect amount of sheen.
- Warranty: Each laminate manufacturer offers its own warranty terms and conditions. Choose a brand that offers you a long-term warranty of at least 10 years or even a lifetime limited warranty for maximum protection.
Laminate Flooring Cost: How Much Does it Cost to Install Laminate Flooring?
Now that you know more about laminate flooring, it’s time to consider the cost of your new floors. How much is laminate flooring? The average cost of laminate flooring is anywhere between $1 to $5 per square foot, with $4 per square foot being the average price. Shop around to find great deals on laminate flooring at your local home improvement store, online, or check with a flooring retailer to find the best price. On the low end, laminate that costs $1 per square foot is ideal for rental properties or areas of the home without a lot of activity. Medium-grade laminate that costs between $2 and $4 per square foot has a thicker wear layer and can handle average foot traffic. If you prefer a high-end laminate, this option typically costs between $3 and $5 or more, depending on the brand. Some options include an attached underlayment, while others require you to install it separately before laying down the floors. This will affect the total for how much to install laminate flooring in your home.
The cost to install laminate flooring will vary depending on a variety of factors. First, you’ll need to calculate the total square footage of your home (or specific rooms) to factor in the material cost. The larger area you need to cover, the more your materials will cost. If a separate underlayment is required, be sure to factor that in as well. If you’re not privy to a DIY installation, plan to pay between $1 to $3 per square foot for labor when hiring a professional. For rooms with a lot of corners, staircases, and other unusual features, the cost of installation could be higher. If you have existing flooring that needs to be removed, many companies charge a separate removal and disposal fee in addition to the installation. Plan to pay between $1,400 and $2,200 for a 300-square foot room just to ensure you have wiggle room in your budget.
Waterproof Laminate Flooring
If you’re adding laminate to a bathroom or kitchen, make sure you choose waterproof laminate flooring. Some brands use the term waterproof, but they’re really only water-resistant. The best waterproof laminate flooring will protect your floors from moisture. These floors don’t allow water to penetrate the surface, even if it sits on top of your floors. Make sure your new laminate is completely waterproof and not just water-resistant or you run the risk of permanent damage if spills and moisture aren’t wiped dry immediately on contact. If you want to know how to waterproof laminate flooring, you can add silicone sealant around the perimeter and under the baseboards. This simple step creates an impenetrable seal, and it’s recommended for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.
If you prefer to install laminate flooring yourself or have questions about repair, here are a few quick and easy how-to guides to help you through the process.
How to Install Laminate Flooring
- Calculate how much flooring you need, but purchase about 10-15% more to account for waste.
- Research how to remove laminate flooring correctly if you’re planning to replace your existing laminate.
- Start at the far end of the room and measure the planks to fit parallel to the wall.
- Using a circular saw, cut your laminate planks to the proper size.
- Use wooden spacers to allow for expansion as you lay down each individual section.
- Attach each plank by placing it onto the corresponding piece at an angle until it clicks into place. Repeat this process row-by-row.
- You can use a piece of wood and a rubber mallet to gently tap each plank securely in place.
- Check for gaps as you go, and re-secure each piece for an even, seamless fit.
- Apply a sealant around the edges of the room (clear silicone is recommended) to protect your subfloor.
How to Cut Laminate Flooring
- Cut each piece of flooring using a miter saw, table saw, hand saw, or circular saw.
- A diamond blade is recommended for a smooth cut.
- Cut each piece of laminate with the finished side up.
- Go slowly as you cut each piece to ensure a straight cut that goes all the way through.
How to Lay Laminate Flooring
- Remove all of your old flooring and sweep up and vacuum any leftover debris.
- If your laminate flooring doesn’t include an attached underlayment, start by adding the underlayment to cover the entire subfloor.
- Remove all baseboards and trim around the room before beginning installation. Put them aside until the installation is complete.
- Arrange your tiles or planks before you cut and install them to determine the best layout.
- Trim the tongues from the planks that will be installed directly against the wall.
- Start by laying the first row on the longest wall, starting at the right side and working left. Space each piece about ¼ to 3/8 inch apart using spacers.
- Repeat the process for each row as you lay them out individually, locking all of the planks or tiles in place until you reach the opposite side of the room.
How to Fix Scratches on Laminate Flooring
- Find a laminate repair kit that matches the color of your floor. This may consist of colored putty or wax pencils to repair minor scratches and scrapes.
- Gently apply the putty or wax to the scratch to fill in the gaps. Putty is ideal for wider scratches since wax may not cover it up enough.
- Use a putty knife to spread the putty across the scratch, holding it at a 45-degree angle as you press it down across the scraped area.
- Allow the putty to harden before walking on this part of your floors.
- You may need to replace laminate planks or tiles with extremely deep scratches that cannot be repaired with traditional methods.
How to Get Paint off Laminate Flooring
- Remove loose dirt and debris with a vacuum, then wipe the affected area with a dust mop or microfiber cloth.
- Apply a paint remover or floor degreaser to dried paint ONLY using a cotton rag. Let the cleaner penetrate the paint for a few minutes.
- Wipe the area clean using a dry rag and reapply the paint remover as needed to remove any remaining paint.
- Follow the same directions as listed above but use an ammonia-based window cleaner instead of paint removers or floor degreasers.
- You can also use nail polish remover with acetone to remove leftover paint residue.
- Always rinse your laminate floors with warm water and dry thoroughly after removing stains.
How to Install Laminate Flooring on Stairs
- Apply a tread edge to each clean, dry stair using a strong adhesive.
- Cut each piece of laminate to match the width, depth, and length of each stair.
- Starting at the top of the stairs, attach each piece of laminate to the top of the stair using a nail gun.
- Follow the same process for the risers or vertical part of the stairs.
- Finish by attaching stair nosing (a piece that covers the edge of each stair) using screws.
How to Install Laminate Wood Flooring on Concrete
- Remove all trim and baseboards, then level the concrete using a concrete filler or leveling compound to ensure an even, flat surface.
- Lay down a vapor barrier according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Follow the same steps to install laminate flooring as you do for the rest of your home for areas with concrete floors.
- If installing laminate flooring on new concrete, allow the concrete to cure for at least 30 days before adding your new floors.
Laminate Flooring compared to other types of flooring
If you’re still not sure whether laminate is the right choice for you, here are some quick comparisons between laminate and some other popular flooring types.
Laminate flooring is easy to install and features planks that lock together to create a floating floor. Laminate tends to be less costly than vinyl, making it a great choice for doing home upgrades on a budget. Vinyl flooring also comes in sheets that can be extremely easy to install, however, a special glue is required to keep the vinyl sheeting attached in place to the subfloor. Laminate is better for the environment, while vinyl does a better of job at being waterproof. Laminate is made of wood and other materials, while vinyl is completely synthetic. The difference between vinyl and laminate flooring is mostly based on the materials used to manufacture it. See our full comparison.
Laminate Flooring vs Hardwood
Hardwood flooring is much more expensive than laminate and is made from natural wood. You’ll need to apply a sealant to your hardwood floors once a year to keep them protected. Laminate flooring does not require additional sealant thanks to the wear layer. You can sand and refinish hardwood floors several times if you want to change the look of your home. Laminate flooring made from engineered wood can be refinished one or two times, but any more than that will wear off the protective layer.
Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Laminate
Vinyl plank flooring is installed by locking each piece together, which is similar to laminate flooring. Luxury vinyl plank is thicker than laminate, which allows for deeper embossing to create an authentic wood look. Laminate has a wood core that makes it vulnerable to water damage, while vinyl plank does not. When it comes to vinyl plank vs laminate, vinyl is a better option for bathrooms and kitchens. The difference between laminate and vinyl is mostly related to the thickness and waterproof properties of each.
Engineered Hardwood vs Laminate
Engineered hardwood is made with a solid top layer of real wood, while laminate uses a printed synthetic top layer to recreate the appearance of real wood. Both the base of engineered hardwood and laminate floors are made of synthetic materials. Engineered hardwood is thicker than laminate, so it’s a good option for rooms with heavy traffic where noise is a concern. Laminate is less expensive than engineered hardwood which means it’s better for projects where cost is a concern.
How to Clean Laminate Wood Floors
Laminate floors are easy to keep clean, especially with regular maintenance. When you’re looking at how to clean laminate floors. never use steam cleaners or wet mops on your laminate flooring as it may cause permanent damage to the surface layer. Always blot up spills as soon as they occur, and never let liquids sit on your floors. Sweep, dust, or vacuum your laminate floors frequently using the hard floor attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Do not use a beater bar attachment on laminate floors or else it may damage the finish and leave marks behind. You can also use specially made laminate floor cleaner, but make sure that it states the product is safe to use on your laminate flooring. Never use an oil-soap detergent or wet mop your floor since this can cause the floors to swell, warp, or separate at the joints. It may also void your warranty according to certain manufacturers. Do not use abrasive cleaners or steel wool to clean your laminate floors.
The best way to clean laminate floors is with a DIY laminate floor cleaner and a laminate floor mop. To make the cleaner, all you need are three simple ingredients: white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and filtered water. Mix ½ cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of rubbing alcohol with ½ cup of filtered water. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and mix everything thoroughly. If you prefer fragrance with your cleaners, you can also add 3-5 drops of your favorite essential oil. Spray the mixture onto your floors and mop it up immediately using a soft, dry mop head. Do not allow the solution to pool on top of your floors. Store the cleaner and use it within one month or make a new batch after one month has expired.
- How to make laminate floors shine: To enjoy shiny laminate floors, keep the surface clean and clear of dirt and debris. Use the DIY laminate floor cleaner once a week and buff your floors using circular motions and a soft microfiber cloth or the best mop for laminate floors available. Do not use polish or wax or else it can leave a sticky, filmy residue behind.
- Can you mop laminate floors? The best mop for laminate floors uses a soft microfiber mophead or mop pads. Do not use abrasive mops on laminate flooring, and always dry them thoroughly to prevent standing water from sitting on the surface.
- Can you steam clean laminate floors? Do not use a steam mop or steam cleaner on laminate flooring. The heat and moisture generated from these cleaning tools will cause your floors to warp, buckle, and potentially become detached from the subfloor. The combination of pressure and moisture will force water in between the seams of your laminate tile or planks, causing serious damage.
You may laminate flooring, but you’ll need to sand the entire surface to prep the area first. After sanding down the top layer, vacuum debris and apply a coat of primer. Allow the primer to dry for one day before adding a coat of paint to your floors. Make sure the paint you choose is durable enough to handle foot traffic and furniture so it stays beautiful for years to come.
If you have engineered wood laminate, you may refinish laminate floor. Apply a floor stripper to your floors according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you use a product specifically designed for laminate floors. Once the top finish is removed, you can apply a new stain or finish to your floors. Allow ample time to dry between coats, and apply at least two coats of finish for a nice, even look.
Most laminate flooring will last between 15 and 20 years with proper care. In some cases, your laminate may last as long as 30 years if the flooring doesn’t deal with a lot of foot traffic or hasn’t become damaged. The key to keeping your laminate floors looking new is a combination of proper installation and regular cleaning. With the right care, your laminate flooring should easily last a decade or more.
Laminate flooring consists of several layers with a back layer on the bottom to protect it against moisture. The core layer is comprised of a high-density board made of wood. The design layer features a high-resolution image that looks like wood or stone with your choice of color. Finally, a top layer is added to the top of the laminate floors made of aluminum oxide to protect the laminate from stains and fading.
You cannot stain laminate flooring since it isn’t made of real wood. The material won’t allow the stain to seep into, which will make the stain sit and puddle on your floors. If you want to change the color or revitalize laminate flooring, you can paint or refinish it using a floor finish specifically made for laminate. Use a laminate wood floor cleaner to keep your newly finished floors clean.
You can install laminate flooring over tile, as long as the tiles are in good shape. Cracked, missing, or damaged tiles will create an uneven surface that will impede installation. Use an adhesive to secure your laminate planks on top of tile. Always leave a gap around the perimeter of the room to allow for expansion.
If your laminate floors are damaged because of a leak, you need to find the source of the problem first. Make sure all leaks are corrected before repairing your laminate floors. Inspect the flooring carefully and look for bubbles or spots that are warped and mark them with a small piece of painter’s tape. If the water damage is severe, you’ll need to remove the damaged planks and replace them with new ones. Consult a professional floor repair service if you need to perform extensive repairs on water-damaged laminate floors.