Laminated wood flooring is a multi-layered synthetic material that is merged together through the process of lamination to resemble natural wood. This flooring is manufactured by fusing a photographic image of real wood onto the surface of the core made of HDF (high-density fibreboard), which is backed with a moisture-resistant bottom layer. Additionally, the laminated flooring is finished with a clear ‘wear layer’ on top, which works as a protective coating. If you are looking for a wooden look for your floors without getting real wood, here is what you need to know.
- Pro: Easy to install
Laminated flooring is lightweight and easy to install over any substrate (surface) without the hassle of dismantling or removing an existing floor. The laminated floor planks can be fixed quickly because they join to each other with an interlocking system known as a tongue-and-groove joint.
Another plus is that if you plan to shift your home, the entire flooring can be easily dismantled and reassembled at a new location.
- Pro: Easy to maintain
For routine cleaning of the surface, use a broom, vacuum cleaner or damp mop. The clear top wear layer of the laminated floor prevents spills and stains from penetrating the surface and ensures easy cleaning; also, it is durable and shows high resistance to scratches and fading due to UV rays.
- Pro: Looks like natural wood
Laminated wood flooring comes in multiple colours that replicate natural wood such as oak, mahogany, walnut and so on. Each board of the floor is of consistent quality and design, unlike natural wood. Many brands have launched textured laminate floors that simulate the feel and appearance of real wood.
- Pro: Cost effective
The greatest advantage of these floors is that the material is reasonably priced and it is an affordable alternative to real wood, which is much more expensive.
- Con: Hard surface
The floor may feel hard on the feet and create a hollow sound when walked upon.
As a protective measure, it is recommended to install a foam layer on the substrate before laying the laminate planks; this reduces sound transmission and works as an effective sound-absorbent membrane.
- Con: Limited lifespan
The average lifespan of laminated floors can range between 10 and 30 years, depending on the quality of the core material and the wear layer.
Note: A thicker core of HDF will be more stable to water infiltration, scratches from chairs and moving of furniture. To enhance its longevity, make sure that the floor is not subjected to rough use.
- Con: Cannot be repaired
The main drawback of a laminated floor is that if the floor gets damaged it cannot be refinished, sanded or repaired like natural wood. With constant use and cleaning, the topmost wear layer may slowly erode away. Keep in mind that in case of damage, the individual piece will have to be replaced or, in case of widespread spoiling, the entire floor might have to be changed.
- Con: Not resistant to moisture
Laminated flooring is not suitable for the outdoors and in moisture-ridden areas. If moisture seeps into the floor substrate, it may result in fungal growth or cause warping (bending) of the floor planks. Also, protect the floor from stagnant water, as it may lead to disintegration and complete damage of the HDF core layer.
- Con: Looks artificial
Some users do not find the look and feel of laminated floors appealing in comparison to natural wood.