Laminate flooring comes in many different types and styles. Part of the appeal of laminate
flooring is in the selection of different flooring styles you can imitate. This illustrated guide gives you a brief rundown
of all your options so you can be prepared when shopping for the right laminate flooring for your home.
Featured Laminate Flooring Products
Varieties of Laminate Floors
Find out the basic types of flooring that laminate can be made to resemble.
- Hardwood Laminate: From standard woods like pine to exotics like Brazilian cherry, laminate can offer
the appearance of all the most popular hardwoods.
- Stone Laminate: You can get the look of slate, marble, and more with laminate floors.
- Tile Laminate: With special textures and colors for different types of tile, you can get a gorgeous
look without the high prices of real tile.
Laminate Floor Installation
Before deciding which laminate floors you want, decide how and where you want to install them. This will dictate what
type of laminate you need.
- Glueless laminate flooring: These laminate floors snap together at the edges with a tongue and groove
locking system, eliminating the need for messy glue.
Note: If you're installing laminate on
grade, below grade, or in other areas subject to moisture, you'll also need a thin plastic underlayment to prevent seeping
moisture from below.
- Laminate floorings with underlayment attached: These glueless planks come with an included
underlayment, so all you need to do is snap them into place.
- Glued laminate flooring: If you want tough laminate floors, try these. A strong glue applied to the
tongue and groove edges creates a floor whose planks are nearly impossible to pull apart.
- Pre–glued laminate flooring: Rather than applying the glue separately, these planks have the glue
already applied, so you can snap the planks into place. Check the installation instructions, as some edges have to be
dampened in order to activate the glue.
When it comes to laminate floors, how they feel is just as important as how they look. As you browse the different types
of surface textures for laminate floors, keep in mind that much of your comfort relies on the floor's underlayment.
- Embossed: A raised surface pattern that is created by applying heat and pressure to the laminate.
- Smooth: Ideal for laminate floors made to resemble materials like stone or marble, smooth laminate
flooring offers a texture–free surface.
- Wood–grain: This type of laminate flooring emulates the texture of wood–grain and can be
made to resemble hand–scraped planks, aged wood floors, and more.
- Distressed: Made to resemble old, well–used floors in look and feel, distressed laminate floors
offers a lived–in look to newer spaces.
- Patina: To create the appearance of a patina, a thin layer of paint is applied to an embossed laminate
floor surface and then wiped away, leaving paint in the indented spaces.
Laminate Floor Construction
There are two types of laminate floor construction: high–pressure laminate (HPL) and direct–pressure laminate
(DPL). The one that's ideal for your home depends upon how much traffic you anticipate the floor receiving. Learn the pros and cons of DPL
flooring and HPL flooring.
- Direct–pressure laminate flooring: This laminate floor type is constructed by pressing the four
layers of laminate flooring (the backing layer, core layer, decorative layer, and wear layer) together at over 600 pounds of
pressure per inch at temperatures of around 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- High–pressure laminate flooring: Manufactured similarly to DPL flooring except that the backing
layer and the top wear layer is treated separately. These layers are then fused directly to the core layer, creating
strong floors that can handle very heavy traffic. HPL flooring is generally more expensive than DPL flooring.
Abrasion Class (AC) Rating for Laminate Floors
Make sure your laminate floors can handle the anticipated amount of indoor foot traffic by checking it's AC Rating. The AC
Rating classifies laminate floors by the expected amount of traffic, or use.
- AC1 Moderate Residential: These laminate floors will only stand up to light residential use, and are
best for locations like closets or bedrooms.
- AC2 General Residential: Able to handle moderate foot traffic and can be used in most residential
spaces such as dining rooms or living rooms.
- AC3 Heavy Residential/Moderate Commercial: Fine for every room in the house including
high–traffic rooms and commercial spaces with light traffic (i.e. small offices or hotel rooms).
- AC4 General Commercial: Suitable for all residential uses as well as more heavily trafficked commercial
spaces like offices, cafes, and boutiques.
- AC5 Heavy Commercial: Recommended only for commercial use in high–traffic spaces like department
stores and public buildings.
Tempted by discount laminate flooring? Read this section before you commit.
- Regular price laminate flooring: If you don't want to deal with possibly replacing your laminate floors
soon after you install them, you're best off saving up for higher–quality laminate flooring. Look at all your options
before purchasing and make sure you're getting your money's worth.
Note: The higher the AC
Rating, the higher the price. If your home only faces moderate traffic, you don't need anything higher than an AC3 rating.
- Discount laminate flooring: When you're choosing cheaper laminate floors, you could either end up with
discontinued products or leftovers of poorly–made floors. If you want to avoid the latter, look for thicker floors
with good–quality backings, strong edges, and a valid warranty. Keep in mind that if you're purchasing a discontinued
product, you'll want to buy enough excess so you can make repairs if needed.