What Is Laminate Flooring? Everything You Need To Know

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
21 min read

Beautiful and long-lasting, laminate flooring may be installed in practically every room of your house. The four-layer architecture of laminate floors gives them extra sturdiness and long-term endurance. Elegant natural wood or tile looks are available in laminate flooring, making it suitable for a wide range of interiors. You can use this guide to help you pick the right laminate flooring for your room.

What is Laminate?

The strength and durability of laminate flooring are derived from the fact that it is made up of numerous layers of synthetic materials that have been bonded together.

These layers are comprised of:

The wear layer is constructed of aluminum oxide, which is one of the toughest materials known to date. Your floor will be protected from scuffs and scratches thanks to this sturdy layer.

The Decorative/Design Layer: A printed design on moisture-resistant melamine paper gives your floor the look of natural wood. Decorative paper can be poured with melamine resin, which is then laminated with a strong plastic called Melamine. We provide a wide variety of fashionable and one-of-a-kind solutions to go with any decor.

Your floor will be supported by this layer of melamine. It also prevents your floor from warping by keeping the planks level and balanced.

What to Know About Laminate Flooring | The Family Handyman

Laminate flooring is designed to resemble hardwood or tile flooring in terms of both appearance and feel. Laminate flooring has the extra benefit of being able to be installed in a variety of rooms throughout your house, including those where hardwood is not an option. It is possible to utilize laminate flooring in living rooms and bedrooms as a stylish alternative to hardwood or carpet, respectively. As a result of its ease of cleaning and upkeep, it can even be used in high-traffic areas such as kitchens.

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is a synthetic product comprised of many layers that are bonded together during the lamination process. There are four basic components to laminate flooring, which is designed to be both economical and long-lasting.

Wear Layer

The wear layer protects the surface from daily wear and tear, makes it easier to clean, and ensures that it doesn’t fade or discolor.

Décor Layer

Printed images of wood, tile, or stone are used to create the décor layer.

Core Layer

The laminate’s structure and dent-resistant qualities are provided by the core layer. Real hardwood is far more easily dented than laminate.

Backer Layer

The last backer layer gives further solidity and support.

Where Can I Install Laminate Flooring?

Using Laminate Flooring on Walls

Interior walls can be covered with virtually any laminate floor board (not ceilings or countertops). A clean, dry, plumb (horizontal) wall is essential. The substrate should be prepared according to the product’s specifications. Before installing, you may need to prime the wall.

Things to Know About Laminate Flooring


The thickness of laminate flooring ranges from 7 millimeters to 12 millimeters. When comparing laminates, keep in mind that the thickness of the finished product, including the core and attached pad, may be included by some manufacturers. Dent resistance is the same for all laminates. A thicker laminate will be more resistant to bending due to uneven subflooring and will also be quieter.


Less than five-inch-wide laminate planks are common, but they can also be seven-inch-wide or even wider.


Cherry, chestnut, hickory, maple, oak, pine, and walnut are just a few of the many options available.

AC Rating

On a scale of 1 to 5, the Abrasion Criteria (AC) value measures the wear resistance. The higher the AC rating, the longer the product will last. These two products are the most popular for domestic use.

AC 1: Designed for low-traffic areas of the home, such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

AC 2: Designed for moderate foot traffic in the home.

AC 3: Designed for usage in high-traffic sections of the home, such as the entryway or kitchen, where foot traffic is expected to be heavy.

It can meet some commercial standards if needed, however it is primarily intended for residential use in high traffic areas.


Many different textures and treatments are available in laminate flooring to mimic the look of real hardwood.

  • Either embossed or embossed in register An all-over texture, EIR adds depth and texture to match the décor layer, making it a better match for the natural appearance of actual hardwood flooring.
  • Laminate flooring mimics the look of a hand-scraped hardwood floor, even if it isn’t actually hand-scraped.
  • Reflective and scratch-resistant, this high-gloss laminate has a mirror finish.

Underfloor Heating

Laminate flooring cannot be utilized with all types of underfloor heating. Mesh should be embedded in self-leveler or thin-set for laminate-compatible systems before the flooring is installed. Before using the product, thoroughly review the product specifications and instructions.

Waterproof and Water-Resistant Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring that is waterproof is readily accessible. You must carefully follow the installation instructions in order to ensure waterproofing. A 3/8-inch foam backer rod must be installed around the perimeter of the space to ensure proper installation of the silicone sealant.

Generally speaking, water-resistant means that it must be cleaned up within 30 minutes of being wet. Product specifications and warranties are available online.

Tools and Materials to Install Laminate Flooring


Acoustical pads are pre-installed on some goods to make installation easier. Underlayment is required if you don’t already have it. Underlayment protects the subfloor from moisture, insulates it from the cold, and dampens sound. Moisture entering through the subfloor can cause your floor to expand, so you’ll need an underlayment with a moisture barrier if you’re laying laminate over concrete. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for moisture protection on your floor.

Some laminate floors come with acoustical pads pre-installed. Despite the fact that the attached pad makes installation quicker, these pads do not protect against moisture.

Watch this video to learn how to properly prepare your subfloor for the installation of laminate flooring.


Various moulding and millwork parts, such as quarter rounds and T-mouldings, thresholds, reducers, and wall bases, can be ordered to match or coordinate with one another.

Laminate Flooring Tools

A draw bar, tapping block, and spacers are all you’ll need to install laminate flooring. For a waterproof floor to function properly in damp areas, you’ll also need silicone sealer and a 3/8-inch foam backer rod.

Cleaning and Caring for Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring should be cared for and maintained in accordance with these guidelines:

  • You should use a cleaner specifically formulated for prefinished hardwood flooring and/or laminate flooring when cleaning your floors. Water can damage laminate flooring, so use it with care.
  • At least once a week, sweep or dust mop your floor. Scratching is avoided as a result of this.
  • Clean up any spills or tracked-in dirt as soon as possible to avoid further harm.
  • Area rugs and door mats can help decrease dirt and moisture buildup in heavy activity areas.
  • Prevent furniture from getting scuffed and dented. Make sure the plastic casters and pads are replaced with felt or rubber tips.. Use caution when moving large, heavy objects on the floor.
  • Keep your pet’s nails trimmed to prevent scratches on your furniture.
  • Don’t use steam cleaners or jet mops to clean your home.

To get a feel for how your new laminate floor will look, buy samples.

Room Size

If you know how big your space is, you can order the right amount of flooring. Taking measurements of your room’s length and width is the best way to get an idea of its size. The square feet of your room can be calculated by multiplying the length by the width. Consult the waste table to the right after you’ve determined the room’s dimensions, and then multiply the result by the corresponding percentage. Cutting around cabinets, walls, doors, mis-cuts or damaged boards is included in this allowance.

AC Ratings

Using the Abrasion Class (AC) rating system, Laminate floors are able to tell you how much traffic they can handle. Floors with a high quantity of foot traffic can be found by looking at this grading system.

An AC Rating 2 indicates that this type of flooring is suitable for moderate traffic in residential spaces. In areas like dining rooms and living spaces, this makes it a good option of flooring.

High traffic areas, such as kitchens, are best suited for this type of flooring, which has an AC Rating of 3. Offices and other low-traffic commercial spaces can benefit from laminate flooring with this performance rating.

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Design Options

Textures on the surface of the object

It is possible to create laminate flooring that resemble a wide range of wood and tile species. In situations where hardwood floors would be impractical, this allows you to have the look of hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring’s top layer can be customized to mimic the appearance and feel of actual wood. There are a variety of textures to choose from, including the following:

• Wood-Grain: The typical etched feel of wood grain floors is provided by this type of flooring.

For an old floor look and feel, embossed flooring has large ridges on the surface.

Similar to the wood grain effect but more defined, this texture follows the wood grain texture of a printed pattern, giving the floor a realistic look. • Embossed In Register (also known as Registered Embossed):

• High Gloss: A smooth urethane finish that provides the floor a wet appearance and a brilliant shine.

There are a variety of laminate flooring styles available, including those that mimic the look of specific types of wood.

Laminate Trims

It is the job of laminate trims to hide expansion gaps and transitions to different floors. To ensure that the job is completed correctly, these trims are recommended. In order to match the flooring, we offer laminate trims in a variety of universal colors. The 9/16′′ thickness of the base and quarter round allows for easy expansion gap coverage.

This trim is used around the room’s perimeter, where the floor and the wall meet. A. Quarter Round:

Molding B. Reducer: This type of molding can be used to transition between rooms with different levels of height.

To fill in the gap between two level surfaces, t-moulding is utilized.

The nose of a stair is the final finishing touch.

Expansion gap is filled by using a base board.


Stability and soundproofing are provided by a thin layer of foam underlayment laid beneath the floor tiles. When you step on the floor, the underlayment can alter how it feels to your feet. Various underlayments can be found at Menards®. In addition, we provide pre-connected pad laminate flooring, which simplifies installation by having the underlayment already attached. Preattached pad laminate flooring does not necessitate the use of additional underlayment.


A type of glueless flooring known as laminate uses an interlocking structure instead of glue or adhesive. Underlayment for laminate flooring is a thin sheet of foam that serves as a base for the interlocking tiles, squares, or planks (see Underlayment below for more information). Installation is sped up because to the tongue-and-groove edges that don’t require any glue. No glue or clamps are needed to install these floors. Because there is no mess, your floor is ready to use right after installation.

It is because laminate flooring are not attached to the subfloor that they are considered a floating floor. Molding and transition pieces are installed throughout the room to hold down the floor instead of nails or screws. Almost any type of flooring, including tile, wood, and vinyl, can be covered with this easy-to-install flooring. The high-density fiber cores and improved locking systems of some laminate floors have resins added to them, increasing their water resistance. Laminate flooring can be used in bathrooms and laundry rooms since it is water resistant. Laminate flooring’s locking system can be detached for simple removal and reinstallation in a different room if necessary.

Tools for the Job

• Tapping Blocks and Pull Bars

a Cutter for cutting laminate

• Spacers

• Underlayment Tape

• Measuring Device

• Drill and Bits

• Face Masks

• Adhesive

• Caulk

• Filler for Repairs

• Knee shin guards

• Knife for doing chores

• Hammer or Mallet

Pencil of the Carpenter

Use installation tools to make your life easier and reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes and waste. In order to correctly install laminate flooring, the following tools are required. Installation is usually easier when the appropriate tools are used. Some manufacturers will not honor a guarantee unless an installation kit is ordered and utilized as instructed. Taping blocks (a block designed to protect the edges of flooring materials as they are hammered into place) are not preferred by other flooring firms since they increase the risk of damage during installation. For more information, refer to the user manual or package insert that came with your product.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Laminate flooring is much easier to maintain than most other types of flooring. It is possible to extend the life of laminate flooring by protecting it after installation. Laminate flooring can last a long time if you follow these helpful tips:

• Staining and indentations can be caused by heavy objects and furniture. The use of wide load-bearing leg bases/rollers and furniture slides and glides will help keep your floor from getting scratched. Wider floor guards are typically needed for heavy items.

In order to avoid injury, do not move heavy furniture or appliances across the floor. Plywood should be laid out on a flat surface and the object moved across it.

Humidity can cause your floors to naturally expand and contract, depending on where you reside. Keep the humidity level in your home between 35 and 65 percent year-round to avoid this. Use a humidifier if you live in a dry area to avoid shrinkage caused by low humidity levels. Maintaining humidity levels in the summer can be done by using an air conditioner, dehumidifier, or turning on the heater a few times a day.

Avoid overexposure to water when the weather is bad.

• The nails of your pets might potentially damage your floor. To avoid damaging your floor, trim them regularly.

A moist cloth should be used immediately to wipe up spillage. The floor should never have any liquids standing on it.

• Use acetone (nail polish remover) and a white cloth to remove tough stains like oil, paint, markers, lipstick, ink, or tar. To finish, use a moist rag to wipe away any last traces of glue.

• Keeping your floors in good condition is easier if you maintain them regularly. Dust and debris can diminish the lustrous look of your floor, so sweep or vacuum it often to keep them at bay. Depending on where you reside, the amount of upkeep required will be different. The more sandy the area, the more work it will need to keep the house clean.

To avoid warping and swelling of your floor, avoid using liquid cleansers like soap and water or oil soap detergent. Do not wash or damp mop the floor unless specifically instructed to do so in the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines. To add insult to injury, this could void your warranty.

• Never clean your floor with products that include harsh chemicals, such as ammoniated or chlorinated powerful cleansers. Steel wool will also scratch your floors, so avoid using it.

To avoid damaging your floor, do not use a buffing machine or floor polisher. As a result, they may potentially harm or scratch your floors.

Remove gum or candle wax from your floor by first freezing it with ice, then chipping it off with a plastic scraper. If you don’t have one, you can use a credit card. After that, use a moist cloth to thoroughly clean the area.

There’s an option for virtually every style.

To replicate everything from exotic hardwoods to concrete to actual stone, laminate flooring features a digitally enhanced picture layer incorporated into the core layer. Texture may now be embossed into the surface of this type of flooring to give it a more realistic appearance. Laminate, no matter how high-end the product, cannot be compared to the natural beauty of real wood or stone, even if it is a high-end product

Laminate flooring is cheaper than wood…

Laminate flooring is less expensive than wood flooring, however the quality varies greatly. Some have a more realistic appearance, while others have thinner layers, making them less durable and more prone to break down sooner. Laminates can range in price from as little as $1 per square foot to as much as $5 per square foot, on average.

…but you can’t refinish it.

With the evolution of laminate flooring technology comes the fact that the image layer of the product cannot be replaced when it begins to show signs of wear. It’s true that wood can be rejuvenated numerous times throughout its life span, with the ability to survive decades. Laminate may appear to be a more affordable option at first, but in the long term, wood may be a superior investment. Wood, on the other hand, provides a better return on investment when it comes to the resale value of your property.

Laminate has varying degrees of durability and resilience.

Laminate’s inability to be refinished organically makes you worry how long it will last. Because of this, the image layer is protected from foot activity, UV fade, scratches, damage and staining by an extremely durable wear layer. If a plank is damaged, you may be able to simply replace it with a new one. Repairing a scratch or dent in laminate flooring can be difficult at best, and downright impossible at worst if you can’t remove the offending plank.

AC (abrasion criteria) ratings are assigned to each product by most manufacturers, and these ratings specify the exact uses to which they’ll hold up best. Accuracy (AC) is a measure of how long the product will last. When looking for a product, keep the following figures in mind to ensure that it can withstand your household’s expectations and have the greatest lifespan possible:

  • The moderate residential use classification AC1 (like bedrooms and closets)
  • AC2—generally for private residences (like living rooms and kitchens)
  • AC3—moderate commercial activity or substantial domestic use
  • AC4: Commercial Vehicles in General
  • AC5—heavy-duty commercial use

Laminate is easy-care—with some caveats.

Laminate flooring can warp or stain if it is exposed to excessive amounts of water, thus it should be cleaned with plain water in addition to regular sweeping and vacuuming. Before each pass, wring out the mop with a flat piece of cloth. A commercial laminate cleaner can be used for more difficult cleaning tasks. You can use nail polish remover to remove stubborn staining.

Installation is very DIY-friendly…

The ease with which it may be laid over structurally sound subfloors makes laminate a popular choice among do-it-yourselfers. Laminate planks are not glued to the floor, thus there is no need for adhesive. Snap-and-lock or tongue-and-groove joinery are used instead of the necessary underlayment to attach the laminate to adjacent sections. A reasonably handy homeowner can finish a room in a single weekend. However, be aware that plank edges might be damaged during installation, leaving them more vulnerable to water seepage.

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… but read your warranty carefully.

Professional installation may be necessary to ensure that your laminate manufacturer’s guarantee is honored to the fullest extent possible. If you’re planning to do the work yourself, make sure you understand the warranty terms before making a purchase.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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