Laminate houses, condos and commercial spaces look stylish and offers durability that can’t be beat. Here, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to laminate so you can learn for yourself what this innovative design material does for a home and budget.
Top 5 Laminate Flooring Questions
First, we will start with answering 5 of the most common questions about laminate flooring. We at Chestnut Flooring have collected some of the most common questions people have asked us about laminate flooring and put together this handy list to help out the curious. If you’re planning a renovation and want to know why these floors are worth considering, take a gander and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
1) What is laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring is a type of synthetic flooring comprised of multiple layers that have been sealed in a lamination process—hence the name. The wear layer is on top and is a transparent shield that withstands fades, stains, and scratches while offering a surface that’s easy to clean. Below is the décor layer where a printed image recreates the look and texture of hardwood, ceramic, or stone. Next is the core layer, usually the thickest part of the tile, which is the source of the floors’s structural stability and high dent-resistance. Last is the backing, which offers extra stability and sometimes includes a built-in underlayer for sound and moisture absorption.
2) Is laminate flooring hard to clean?
These floors are low maintenance and easy to maintain. The main thing to keep in mind is that spills should be wiped up as soon as possible and you should avoid steam cleaners or jet mops. A weekly sweep or dust mopping is often all that is required to keep these floors in top shape, though specialty cleaners exist as well. Beyond this, standard precautions like felt or rubber tips on furniture legs and placing mats at indoor/outdoor transition points will help improve the longevity of your floor.
3) Where can I use it?
This type of flooring is extremely versatile and can be used in any room of a home or business but high-traffic areas let the material show off its strengths. You can even use laminate planks to decorate walls in addition to floors for an added expression of style. There are only two caveats to where you can use laminate flooring in Toronto. The first is that it will swell if moisture infiltrates the bottom layers, making it less than ideal in or basements with above-average ambient moisture. The second is that it requires a relatively smooth subfloor so pronounced divots or other imperfections can make installation tricky. Having said that, it can come with water resistant and waterproofing options and subfloors can be repaired, so there are no true limits on where the material can be used.
4) How is laminate flooring installed?
These floors are typically installed using a tongue-and-groove or “click lock” method, where the tiles fit together sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. This is a floating type of installation, meaning the flooring is not fastened to the subfloor directly. However, some types offer a glue-type installation that makes use of an adhesive. This style is slightly more complicated than the tongue-and-groove but provides a more seamless result in exchange.
5) What is an AC rating?
The AC rating is a type of durability metric that you will likely encounter when shopping for laminate flooring in Toronto. AC ratings range from 1-6 and give a sense of where a particular product should be used. AC 1 tends to be best for minimal foot traffic like in a closet or bedroom, while ACs 2 and 3 indicate suitability for moderate-to-high traffic such as living rooms or kitchens. AC 4-6 are capable of meeting commercial standards but are also worth looking at if you host a lot of get-togethers or have a particularly rambunctious household.
Debunking 3 Common Laminate Flooring Myths
You may have heard that laminate flooring is flimsy and fragile. That is thankfully false. Each panel is suitably strong with no less than four layers reinforcing and providing the look and feel of high-end materials. They remain strong, resistant to warping or other damage for many years if treated well.
Laminate floors are difficult to clean and take more time. That is also, incorrect. It is actually much easier and faster to clean laminate floors rather than standard stone, carpet or hardwood. If you vacuum or sweep regularly, you’ll find that your floor’s surface is quick and easy to freshen up. A damp cloth can be used to combat isolated dirt or residue.
We feel it’s essential to clear up the notion that laminate flooring in Toronto only mimics hardwood floors. While this is an exceedingly popular choice because laminate does it so well, in fact, this advanced flooring material comes in almost any design, not just hardwood.
How do you determine the quality of laminate flooring products?
Now that we understand the answers to some of the most commonly asked laminate flooring questions, as well as debunked some of the most popular myths about this product, it is time to discuss how to determine the quality of the laminate flooring products you buy. Not all laminate floors are created equal, and it’s important to know what you’re looking for when shopping.
Laminate is graded for quality on three levels: good, better and best. The higher-grade materials will cost more, but they’re designed with thickness and longevity that you can count on.
There should be a sample on site of the planks you want to be installed. You can see how the boards align and look up close at the edges for seams which show gaps or unevenness.
Look for repeating patterns in the woodgrain. The best quality of laminate flooring has incredibly detailed and unique detail so that repetitive patterns aren’t easy to pick out.
Despite common conception, the thickness of boards doesn’t directly indicate durability of laminate flooring, but it is useful to discourage cupping or warping of the boards. A depth of 12 to 15 mm will feel more like real hardwood flooring underfoot, than the thinner options.
Direct or high pressure?
Ask your salesperson if the flooring material is made with direct- or high-pressure. Both are available options that will function, but the high-pressure laminate flooring is made with newer technology and creates planks that hold up better over time.
Is it UV safe?
The best laminate flooring is sealed with a protective layer designed to resist sun damage. In the past, printed wood grain designs could fade over time if installed in rooms where direct sunlight poured in. Today’s best UV surfaces ensure the beautiful finish will stay clear and true over time no matter which room you install in.
When you’re checking out products and labels in the showroom, find the ISO rating. You can ask a salesperson to tell you what the laminate’s ISO rating is if you can’t see it. Good-quality materials are rated 9001. Many people shopping for home design materials care deeply about the environment. You can check for an environmental ISO rating of 14001 which ensures that your material is up to the most stringent environmental standards.
The European Producers of Laminate Flooring developed AC rating levels. This is a worldwide standard designed to measure factors like resistance to moisture, pooling of liquids, burns, abrasion, impact and stains. The system starts ratings at AC1 and goes up to AC5. AC1 laminate flooring in Vaughan is most appropriate for moderate traffic rooms such as bedrooms. AC2 floors are rated for the medium type of wear a home sees in living rooms and dining rooms. AC3 is reserved for the more substantial foot traffic and possible abuse that a floor could take in hallways and kitchens. AC4 floors are extremely tough and suitable for all residential areas and commercial floors with plenty of foot traffic and multi-use. AC5 is usually installed in commercial situations such as factory floors and commercial.
NALFA certification seal
Laminate flooring is a robust, affordable and beautiful product, but quality and testing vary. To ensure you’re considering materials that are proven to be high quality, look for a NALFA Certification Seal. NALFA stands for The North American Laminate Flooring Association. They certify laminates by carrying out 10 quality-assurance tests which include water resistance, stain resistance, and resistance to various forms of stress. Anything that your busy home and life could throw at those boards, you’ll know has already been applied, and they passed the test.
Other factors to consider when purchasing laminate flooring products
Now that we understand the basics of laminate flooring and how to determine the quality of the laminate flooring product you’re considering, let’s finish off by discussing other general factors you must take into consideration when making your laminate flooring decision.
Some types of laminate flooring in Toronto are completely waterproof. They are resistant to mold and mildew which means unlike most wood and wood-look products, they can be placed in basements and even bathrooms with no issues. Many laminate types are not completely waterproof however,and you should ask what the suitability is for your room and your preferred product. Though they are quite resilient and strong, many can warp and curl at the edges if installed in a bathroom, kitchen, basement or laundry room where there may be standing water. Another key factor is the amount of direct sunlight your floor will be exposed to in a given room. UV protectant to ward off fading and discoloration is often important to include. With so many advanced types and materials, however, you’re sure to find a laminate floor that works for you.
Choose finishes to compliment your style
The width of planks, the colour,and wood grain all lend specific characteristics and style to a room. This is an area where your showroom flooring expert can really help guide you through all the possibilities. If you have a small room, you can consider light shades of wood to open it up. If you are seeking a sleek, clean and modern appearance, a high-shine finish and subtle wood grain may be perfect. Laminate flooring is available in a range of ‘real wood’ finishes so you are able to completely capture the look you want if it is rustic, vintage and rugged barn boards, knotty, exotic grain or smooth, soft and elegant. Whatever your décor, there is laminate flooring in Toronto to match and compliment it, so have fun shopping!
Much more so than solid hardwood, yes, laminate floor is designed in a click together format. This makes it possible to undertake a flooring job yourself if you are somewhat handy, however even laminate flooring can have problems with gaps or underflooring if not installed correctly. It’s worthwhile for most people to hire a professional who will ensure your flooring looks as good as it can in whatever space you choose.
Caring for your laminate floors
Laminate flooring provides resistance to nicks and scratching from furniture or pets, making it well-suited to busy homes. Keep in mind that it’s not entirely indestructible. If planks are chipped or gauged,they can’t be sanded and refinished. Instead, the floor must be lifted up and the damaged pieces replaced, so while they are very robust and scratch resistant, a reasonable amount of care is still advised.
The surface of most laminate is impervious to water, but it can seep between cracks if left to sit so avoid sitting water including saturated mops for cleaning. Clean up is easy, but it’s difficult for some people to resist strong scrubbing agents or solvents.
You should avoid anything that could strip or wear down your protective coating. Warm water and a damp mop are usually sufficient to keep the floor looking fresh.