Where a beautiful visual effect is paramount and practicality is important, laminate flooring fits the bill. Many single-tile patterns are made to look like wood, but you’ll find an increasing number of granite, marble, and stone look-alikes, as well as abstract designs and ceramic patterns. You can choose from individual laminate tiles or planks with tile “visuals” — individual tiles printed on a plank, complete with grout lines.
Durable and affordable
Laminate flooring provides exceptional durability at a moderate cost — the material costs more than resilient tile but less than solid wood flooring. It’s quick to install and easy to clean. A tough-wearing melamine top coat gives laminate staying power. This top layer borrows technology from the manufacture of laminate countertops but is much more durable. It resists the impact of high-heeled shoes and damage from burns and stains.
The next layer is printed to look like the material of choice — wood, stone, or ceramic tile. Below that are several layers that provide strength — these layers are typically made from wood composites.
Easy to install
For many years the primary method of installing laminate flooring was to clamp and glue the pieces together, but recent innovations include glueless snap-together systems that install much faster and more easily. Both glued and glueless laminate floors float — they aren’t nailed or glued to the subfloor. They lay on a foam underlayment (which make them comfortable underfoot) and are held in place by their own weight.
Unlike solid wood planks, laminate can be installed either perpendicular or parallel to the floor joists.