The laminate flooring buying guide

Laminate flooring can help turn your vision into reality, no matter what your budget. This affordable product has a high-end style with a look so realistic sometimes even the flooring experts can't tell the difference between wood-look laminate or genuine timber. To get the best quality, read on for some suggestions of what to look for.

First things first: What is laminate?

There are four layers fused, with each working with one another to result in a durable, scratch, and fade-resistant product. Starting from the bottom is the underlayment which provides stability and moisture resistance. Many come with one pre-attached, but if yours doesn't, ask about buying one. Next comes the core and, while you can get it in various materials, high-density fiberboard (HDF) is best, as it's more stable and water-resistant.

The design layer contains 3D images inspired by nature with various looks, from natural hardwood to the earthen textures of ceramic or stone tiles. Finally, it's topped off by an ultra-strong, transparent aluminum oxide wear layer that protects the floor from scratches and scuffs. That wear layer also helps to keep spills from absorbing.

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Images so authentic you feel as though you can touch the raised grains

Any memories you might have about this flooring of decades past should be forgotten because there are no more flat images! Photography is taken digitally, and the floors include micro beveling and deep embossing. You'll see knots, swirls, raised grains, veining variations, and brilliant colors and patterns. To add even more realism, you have another design option: The material can be cut into long planks or square, groutable tile-sized pieces.

Thickness matters in flooring

These floors come in a range of thicknesses, and the best laminate will go as high as 10-mm or 12-mm if possible. The more robust the material, the more design options, and the better it can hide subfloor imperfections and eliminate noise, so for genuinely high quality, the authentic feeling of a hard surface, buy the best your budget will allow. Be sure the measurement includes only the laminate, not the underlayment.

It should also be noted that new, waterproof addition is now available, making it possible to install laminate anywhere in the house, including the higher-than-normal moisture areas like the kitchen and bath. Unique construction makes it waterproof from top to bottom, meaning spills won't absorb and stain. Since the original water-resistant version is still available, be sure to explain if you want this one or the original.

Did you know a great installation not only enhances appearance, performance and longevity, but it can actually increase some characteristics. For example, we use caulking and joint extenders when necessary when we install the original, water-resistant laminate to increase that capability. To learn more and get a free laminate flooring estimate, visit the Smitty's Carpet Connectionshowroom in either of our two locations, Steubenville and Cadiz, OH. We’re near Steubenville, OH, Cadiz, OH, Weirton, WV, Wintersville, OH, Follansbee, WV, Alikanna, OH, Colliers, WV, Toronto, OH, Wellsburg, WV and Richmond, OH.