How to Choose Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is an inexpensive but durable option for home DIYers. You can achieve a polished look for any room in your home with relative ease. Laminate flooring is easily installed by a single DIYer with simple tools. If you’re unsure of working on it yourself, or if it’s in a bathroom where it needs to be watertight, you can consider professional help.
Laying laminate flooring is like putting together a giant puzzle. The pieces of flooring are usually designed with a tongue and groove style system, sometimes known as “click lock”, which is very easy to do yourself. We’d say that the trickiest aspect is choosing the right laminate flooring!
The best way to choose laminate flooring
Your top priority is thinking about the needs of the room you’re putting laminate flooring down in. If you are reflooring a hallway, where many feet will pass on a regular basis, you’re going to need to look for more heavy-duty laminate flooring.
When looking for laminate flooring, check the AC rating, or abrasion class. An AC of 1 is the lowest and is only suitable for low traffic areas, and AC 5 is the highest rating, often reserved for commercial use.
When planning for a high traffic area, AC 4 is a great choice because the longer the flooring lasts the longer you will be able to go without repairing or replacing the laminate flooring. This will usually come with a higher price tag at first, but can easily make up for the increased durability over time.
The two types of laminate flooring
Generally, laminate flooring comes in two major categories: engineered wood flooring and plastic laminate. Engineered wood is made of layers of real wood glued together. Each layer is perpendicular to the ones next to it to increase strength and durability. The top layer is a high quality, thin layer of hardwood covered with an acrylic finish.
Plastic laminate, on the other hand, is completely artificial. Starting with a melamine backing, the plastic laminate uses fiberboard as the core, then a printed wood grain that is protected by a layer of hard plastic. Modern plastic laminate is very hard to distinguish from engineered wood, and the quality of the print is getting better every year. Most people won’t know the difference.
Typically, engineered wood will be more expensive than plastic laminate, but you can rejuvenate engineered wood a couple of times before replacing it, which you cannot do with plastic laminate in the same way.
How much does laminate flooring cost?
Generally, you pay for quality with laminate flooring. With the lower end of the scale, such as cheap 6mm thick laminate, you might pay less but you’ll realise you’re getting typically too-glossy and unrealistic looking laminate. On the other hand, going for an average 8mm thick laminate, or a more luxurious 12mm, you’re going to pay roughly £20 per m2.
The cheaper options are more likely to stain, peel, or warp because they’re made with substandard materials, so we don’t recommend them at all.
Can I lay laminate flooring over underfloor heating?
Most laminate flooring will be suitable for use with underfloor heating, but this is something that you should check with the manufacturer’s guidelines. You don’t want to find that you’ve inadvertently damaged or reduced the life of your laminate flooring.
How do I choose what colour laminate flooring to get?
There are a wide variety of colours to choose from with laminate flooring. Mostly, you’re going to find the traditional wooden finishes, but grey is a popular colour too.
Dark or Light?
The main choice is between a light and a dark laminate. There are as many personal preferences as there are homeowners here, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you’re looking.
Dark laminate flooring can look fantastic when:
- You have lots of natural light
- You are contrasting a light wall colour
- You’re creating a moody interior
- You’re pairing with rich decor
- You’re wanting a cosy interior
- You’re flooring a large area
Dark colours tend to perform best in open spaces with lots of light so that it doesn’t pull down the light in a small space too much.
Light laminate flooring looks amazing when:
- You need to brighten up a space
- You’re creating a calming interior space
- Your decor is in pastels
- You are using textures, like rugs
- Creating contrast with accessories
- You’re flooring a small space
As light flooring automatically brightens a space, it’s best for smaller rooms that need a little something extra to help them get to that perfect, calming atmosphere.
When to choose grey laminate flooring
Grey laminate flooring is an on-trend choice for a modern home. It’s easy to contrast with colourful accessories and helps create a luxury feel. It’s a safe choice, as most monochromatic decor is, and won’t offend the eye. As grey isn’t a natural wood colour, it can be quite different from the usual, so if you’re looking for a safe but stylish choice, grey laminate flooring is something to consider.