Although it looks like real wood or real stone, laminate wood flooring is just a photograph of wood grain usually covered by a hard transparent protective layer that is impervious to chairs, shoes or other sharp objects.
Laminate flooring installation has become popular among home-owners over the past years, especially because it offers the look of hardwood flooring at a relatively lower cost. It is also easy to install, easy to clean and it does not require expensive maintenance.
Compared to other flooring materials, laminate flooring costs less (from $1.50 per sq. ft.) and requires less skill to install. It can be placed on top of almost any existing floor (excluding carpets) and many manufacturers offer a glue-free, tongue-and-groove system.
The hard transparent protective (scratch-resistant) layer ensures the flooring does not get spoilt by high traffic or pets. It also makes it easy to clean – with just a dust mop or a mop soaked with water.
And for the environmentally conscious home-owners, laminate flooring offers a very good alternative to hardwood flooring as it does not use any wood for its construction.
One of the major disadvantages of laminate flooring is that unlike hardwood floors that can be sanded and re-stained, the look of laminate floors is set by the manufacturer and cannot be customized. This means choices are limited when it comes to laminate flooring.
Laminate floors are very poor in absorbing sound and they can make a hollow sound when you step on them. They also lack the visual warmth of other flooring materials such as hardwood.
Although laminate floors are durable, they are easily damaged by exposure to much water or steam. They can warp in high moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
However, when all is said and done, the advantages of laminate flooring outweigh the disadvantages and you may want to give it a trial.