When you want the look of a gorgeous tile or hardwood floor, but do not want the upkeep or expense, laminate flooring may be exactly what you need. Laminate flooring is made up of a balancing layer, fiberboard layer, various sealants, and thin layers of fibrous material like paper.
An image of a stone tile or a specific grain of hardwood is imprinted on one of the layers, to give the look of the real thing. The top layer is a protective sheet that prevents wear and tear, so your floors always look brand new. It's as if you have a giant laminated photograph of natural flooring mounted on your floor.
Once you've decided to go with laminate flooring in your home, you may think the hard decisions are over. However, the array of options available can be overwhelming. Here are five things to consider when buying laminate flooring:
1. Laminate Floor Design
If you can dream it, you can get it on your floor. Fantasizing about that beautiful tile floor you saw while on vacation in Italy? You can have a similar look at home. Want to get the look of your grandmother's wood floors? You can do that too.
Once you've chosen your design, you will want to find a manufacturer that offers several different "photographs" of the same floor. On a natural floor, no two planks or tiles would be alike, and you want the same effect for your laminate floor. The more variations available for your product design, the more apt you are to fool your neighbors!
2. Live With Your Laminate
For as little as $5, most manufacturers will allow you to purchase a sample plank or tile to test out in your own home. You can choose a sample online and usually receive a sample, product catalog, and sometimes even a certificate or mail-in-rebate toward your final purchase.
Line up your samples in the rooms in which you plan to install laminate flooring and live with them for a while. How do the samples look with your furniture and wall color? Do you like the same sample when the light changes at different times of the day?