Laminate Styles and Choices:
Laminate floors come in both planks and square tiles. Laminate floors are constructed with several layers of various materials that are thermofused together to form the laminated flooring planks and tiles. There are four basic laminate flooring construction layers:
- Wear Layer – This is the transparent top surface that protects the floor from scratching, staining, scuffing and also protects the printed design layer below. Many of the top manufacturers have developed specialized methods of “texturizing” the top layer to add more a more authentic feel to the flooring. Many also offer beveled plank edges to give the floors even more of a realistic appearance.
- Photographic Image Layer – This is the layer where a photographic image of a real hardwood plank, ceramic tile, stone, or some other material exists. The photographic images are extremely clear, vibrant, and realistic. Combined with the textured top layer, this creates a true, authentic, and natural floor appearance. Some laminate designs are actually photographic images of old historical floors.
- Inner Core Layer – The inner core is generally made from a high-density fiberboard and also used to form the tongue and groove edges for locking laminated planks together. Most manufacturers also saturate the inner core with melamine resins or a water-resistant sealer to help protect the flooring from moisture.
- Backing Layer – This layer is fused to the inner core to add stability and create a barrier that helps protect the planks from moisture and warping. Like the inner core, the backing is also treated with some sort of water-resistant sealer.Note: The inner core combined with the backing layer is what accounts for the overall thickness of each plank. Planks generally range from 8mm to 12mm in thickness. The thicker planks are more rigid and help overcome minor irregularities in the sub-flooring.
There are several different types of laminate floors to choose from, as well as different shapes, thicknesses and installation locking systems. What they all have in common is they must be floated over the subfloor and have a print layer to give a realistic appearance of a real natural floor material. Laminate floors can be installed on all grade levels and over fully-cured concrete slabs, wood subfloors and some types of existing hard surface floors.
Although laminate flooring’s range of prices is considerable wide, it pales in comparison to the range of design choices. If you are looking for a wood design, for example, you will find replicas of virtually ever species under the sun, and you will find them displayed in a variety of ways. There are single-strip, two-strip, and three-strip designs with square edges, beveled edges, and micro-beveled edges. You will also find them with different surface treatments and finishes to add to the uniqueness of design. Wood designs are not the only choices available.
Laminate flooring is also available in a variety of ceramic tile and stone designs. Like the wood designs, the selection offers plenty of colors and patterns to choose from and the installation methods requirements are the same.
Regardless of your design preference, it is highly advisable that you actually see the product before making your purchase. Many websites of large distributors offer great photographs of laminate flooring but there is no way to be sure of how that particular flooring will look in your home or office. Surface photos will not give you a true representation of the product, nor will they give you a look at the quality of the construction. At Jack’s Tile and Carpet, we will be happy to send you samples of any flooring directly to your home if we do not have it in our showroom, so that you can make the most informed decision about your new laminate floors.