Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring (also called floating wood tile in the United States) is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product fused together with a lamination process. Laminate flooring simulates wood (or sometimes stone) with a photographic applique layer under a clear protective layer. The inner core layer is usually composed of melamine resin and fiber board materials. There is a European Standard No. EN 13329:2000 specifying laminate floor covering requirements and testing methods. Laminate flooring has grown significantly in popularity, perhaps because it may be easier to install and maintain than more traditional surfaces such as hardwood flooring. It may also have the advantages of costing less and requiring less skill to install than alternative flooring materials. It is reasonably durable, hygienic (several brands contain an antimicrobial resin), and relatively easy to maintain.

Installation

Laminate floors are reasonably easy for a DIY homeowner to install. Laminate flooring is packaged as a number of tongue and groove planks, which can be clicked into one another. Sometimes a glue backing is provided for ease of installation. Installed laminate floors typically "float" over the sub-floor on top of a foam/film underlayment, which provides moisture- and sound-reducing properties. A small (1–10 millimetres (0.039–0.394 in)) gap is required between the flooring and any immovable object such as walls, this allows the flooring to expand without being obstructed. Baseboards (skirting boards) can be removed and then reinstalled after laying of the flooring is complete for a neater finish, or the baseboard can be left in place with the flooring butted into

it, then small beading trims such as shoe moulding or the larger quarter- round moulding can be fitted to the bottoms of the baseboards. Saw cuts on the planks are usually required at edges and around cupboard and door entrances, but professional installers typically use door jamb undercut saws to cut out a space to a height that allows the flooring to go under the door jamb & casing for a cleaner look. Improper installation can result in peaking, in which adjacent boards form a V shape projecting from the floor, or gaps, in which two adjacent boards are separated from each other. Installation of laminate flooring - note underlay to allow for contraction, expansion, and moisture control and method for squaring and distancing from wall. Secure tongue-and-groove connections create floor that is both tight and flexible.

Benefits

There are many benefits to choosing a laminate floor over other types of flooring. Laminate flooring is quite versatile and durable. Due to laminate flooring being a printed strip of vinyl over a composite board many textures and styles of flooring can be replicated. Recently laminate floors have seen success in simulating stone and tile patterns as well as wood. Cleaning laminate floors is easy and comparable to cleaning other hard surfaces such as hardwood floors. It is generally not recommended to mop laminate floors as this has been shown to cause damage by soaking into the composite portion which allows warping over time. Most manufacturers suggest using dry methods such as brooms to clean with occasional wet cleaning with more specialised mop-type products that do not leave excessive water on the flooring.

Installation is a large benefit of choosing laminate flooring. A generally handy person is well equipped to install laminate flooring as the locking and floating aspects of laminate floor are mostly self-explanatory. Also, due to the ease of installation, having professional flooring contractors install this type of floor is less expensive than other types of flooring such as tile or hardwood.

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