Buying Laminate Flooring
Wednesday September 24, 2008
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If you're in the market for laminate flooring, chances are value-for-money figured in your thinking. Laminate floors can be a bargain compared to buying, for example, real hardwood flooring. They can also offer the twin appeal of strength and beauty. But if you're bargain shopping, you'll still need to be able to answer the question: Am I really getting a good deal? We suggest you take a good look at the checklist below before you buy.
Six things to watch out for when buying laminate flooring:
1. Construction: Direct pressure laminate (DPL) is generally cheaper than high-pressure laminate (HPL). This is because, unlike DPL, HPL is created by treating all of the layers separately and then fusing them together. The result is a laminate floor that is stronger overall and can handle a higher level of wear and tear.
2. Decorative Layer: The decorative layer refers to the high-resolution image that gives the laminate surface its look. Generally, laminate with a higher quality picture is more expensive than laminate made with a low-quality image.
3. Core: Laminate cores are normally either medium density fiberboard (MDF) or high density fiberboard (HDF). HDF is considered superior as it is denser (hence stronger) and more moisture resistant. Before purchasing laminate, it is recommended that you ask about the "swelling rate," which is the susceptibility of the core to moisture.
4. Backing: Less expensive laminate floors tend to have a thin backing instead of a moisture-resistant melamine backing layer. Thinner backings make laminate flooring more susceptible to water damage.
5. Abrasion (AC) rating: Laminate floors with higher AC ratings can handle more wear and tear. They are also more expensive. (The ratings run from 1 to 5, with 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest.) For strong laminate flooring that can handle common household wear, you should choose a floor with an AC3, AC4 or AC5 rating.
6. Warranty: Before you buy, read all the conditions of the warranty carefully and check that the store has a good return policy... just in case. You want to be covered as much as possible against defects and damage. Keep in mind that limited warranties typically mean lower prices, and could be a reflection of product quality.
Buying flooring is like any other major purchase: What may seem like an obvious choice at first can turn out to be a little more involved than you guessed. When it comes to laminate flooring, keep the five things listed above in mind and you'll be well on your way to the right decision.
Talkback – Leave a commentThere are 2 comments
Very helpful info. I'm glad that someone has finally taken the time to put together a flooring informational site that is unbiased.
I also have seen Pergo with an AC6 rating for one of their products, but I don't believe it's recognized on the official scale.