Laminate. An Inexpensive and Stylish Flooring Option.

Need inexpensive and stylish flooring? Choose laminate.

The flooring you select has everything to do with your lifestyle and expectations, particularly regarding the amount of traffic, spills and cleaning you anticipate. Luckily, whether you have a family with small children or are empty nesters hosting occasional dinner parties, laminate flooring is an attractive choice that won’t break the bank.

What is laminate?

Laminate is a layered material consisting of:

  • Backing: resists moisture and prevents warping.
  • Core: condensed fiberwood adhered with resin for strength and moisture resistance.
  • Design layer: provides texture and aesthetic.
  • Wear layer: protects the surface from wear and tear.

It’s synthetically produced but the material is largely wood fiber, giving it a natural look and functionality. Known for its practicality, laminate pieces interlock and are assembled without glue or nails. It’s inexpensive to manufacture and install, keeping cost down.

Benefits of laminate

There’s a lot to love about laminate, including:

Low maintenance. Cleaning is as easy as a light dusting or mopping.

Diverse aesthetic. Can be fashioned to resemble ceramic tile or natural stone options like granite and slate.

Durability. Stands up to children and pet rough-and-tumble play, is scratch and dent resistant, with a 20-year or more lifespan.

Eco-friendly. Comprising more than 70 percent recycled wood fibers. Its floating floor assembly eliminates noxious fumes from adhesive.

Is laminate as strong as traditional hardwood? Absolutely. In fact, laminate is categorized by an Abrasion Rating (AC) according to durability, so you can find the right composition that fits your lifestyle:

  • AC 1 and 2: lighter traffic areas, like bedrooms.
  • AC3: general house.
  • AC4: high traffic areas, including kitchen and living rooms.
  • AC5: industrial and commercial applications.

Average cost of laminate

Homeowners spend anywhere from $1,400 to $4,000 to install laminate flooring depending on square footage coverage, according to HomeAdvisor. Cost, however, boils down to plank width, thickness, AC rating and laminate type, normally averaging between $1 to $3 per square foot.

Laminate vs. hardwood or vinyl flooring

Hardwood is in a class all its own, producing an elegant rich look that is hard to replicate. It’s beautiful all right, but the cost of material and installation is significantly higher than laminate. And hardwood does take care: regular conditioning and refinishing are required to keep it healthy over time, because of how hardwood responds to wear and weather (humidity changes).

Vinyl floors are cheap, available as a sheet or in tiles. Vinyl is like linoleum–water and stain resistant and versatile–but direct sun causes fading, temperature extremes compromise strength, and it can tear under sharp objects.

Laminate is a step in between, a mid-range flooring option, sandwiched between the higher maintenance and cost hardwood floor and cheap, more fragile vinyl. Its star quality? Practicality.

What would laminate look like in your home? We’d love to help you find the right style and type. Contact us for a free consultation today.

About the Author


Carl is the guy to ask when it comes to flooring. He started in hardwood refinishing 30-plus years ago, earned his stripes and used what he’d learned to become an expert on hardwood refinishing, solid and engineered hardwood installation, carpet, ceramic tile, laminate and vinyl flooring installation. You’ll find his work in universities, hospitals, professional sports venues, state museums and theaters, pubs, and of course, homes throughout the state.

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