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When Only Laminate Will Do

When Only Laminate Will Do

As an alternative to hardwood flooring, laminate is a superstar.

By Familytime

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These days, most homeowners want wood floors. If the floor is not actually made of wood but instead is what’s known as laminate, that’s just fine most of the time.

Truth be told, it can be hard to tell the difference between “real” hardwood and the fake stuff (laminate). But there are differences.

Different from Hardwood

Hardwood floors are made from wood, plain and simple. Laminate flooring is made from fiberboard or wood particles that are overlaid with a laminate made to resemble wood or, in some cases, stone or tile. (Which, not incidentally, makes it more environmentally friendly.) Finally, a clear, hard layer is applied to the laminate which contributes to its legendary durability.

This durability is evidenced in the way laminate flooring does not scratch or scuff and often can be used in areas with moisture: kitchens, bathrooms, entryways and basements.

Although laminate has not been around nearly as long as hardwood flooring, most experts feel it holds up extremely well over the years (although it may not be quite as long-lived as hardwood).

Finally, laminate costs less than hardwood to buy and install. In some cases it’s half as costly and in others about a third as much.

The Downside of Laminate

While replacing your old flooring with laminate is a surefire way to upgrade the appearance of a room or hallway, when you decide to sell the house, some buyers may not like it. They want hardwood.

Nevertheless, laminate will boost the value of your house more than wall-to-wall carpeting or linoleum — but never as much as hardwood.

Unlike hardwood floors, laminate cannot be repaired or spiffed up by sanding and buffing or staining. Its color is forever; you cannot change it unless you replace the floor.

When You Buy Laminate

Visit a few different stores and look online when you shop for laminate to get the best price. You may find sales and other variances in cost.

Take your time examining the various offerings. Quality laminate should be at least six or seven milliliters thick and attached to an underlayment, which will muffle sound once the flooring is in place. (One constant complaint about laminate flooring is that it sounds “hollow” when walked on.)

When you browse, note that some laminates are textured, others are smooth. You will have to decide which best suits your taste, needs and budget.

Talk to the salesperson about installation. Most laminate is snapped into place, rather than being glued or nailed. This makes it easy to install over just about any surface (sometimes including carpeting) and relatively easy to remove.

Discuss any molding you might want to install along with the flooring to make the floor look finished. Ask also about removing and disposing of the existing flooring and installing or repairing a subfloor. All these considerations will contribute to the overall price of the new floor.

Laminate is easy for do-it-yourselfers to install, which is another benefit. Nonetheless, the store should send a licensed and competent expert to your home to measure the space. This way, you won’t buy too much or not enough.

Once the laminate is in place, you won’t believe how much better your house looks

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