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Top Laminate Flooring FAQs

Is laminate flooring waterproof? How is it made? Find answers to those questions and more below.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

TOP LAMINATE FLOORING FAQs
In some cases yes, but not always. Some laminate products on the market that advertise themselves as waterproof but typically laminate floors are not. With more common laminate water can cause major damage, especially if the water soaks into the wood pulp core causing it to expand and damage the rest of the plank and those planks around it. There are many waterproof vinyl plank alternatives to laminate that will perform similar or better than laminate, and resist water damage, at a similar price point.

Laminate is an affordable, multilayered flooring product made from tightly compressed wood fiber and designed to look like wood, tile or stone. Laminate flooring products typically have four layers: the backing layer, the core layer, the image layer, and the wear layer. The backing can vary depending on the product but is often made of cork, felt or another soft product to allow the laminate to sit comfortably on the floor. The core layer is typically comprised of recycled wood fibers tightly compressed into a dense wood-like core, sometimes referred to as a high-density fiber (HDF) core. The image layer is where the desired look (e.g. wood, stone) is printed onto the product and texture is added through a process called ‘embossing’ to make it feel similar to the material it is made to look like. The wear layer is a clear protective layer manufactured on top of the image layer. The wear layer is often made from aluminum oxide and designed to prevent the floor from scratching or showing excessive wear over time. Higher quality laminate products often boast an extra resilient wear layer that makes the product scratch, dent and fade resistant.

Laminate can be a good choice for many different customers because it offers an affordable way to achieve a desired look, such as hardwood or stone, without having to pay the high material and labor costs for those products. Laminate can be installed at all grades and with a variety of installation methods, including glue down and floating installations, making it a versatile hard surface option.

Because laminate is an artificial product made from recycled wood fiber and not real wood, it often does not have the same level of performance as the wood, stone or tile products it is imitating. Laminate is also a relatively lightweight product and as a result can sometimes feel hollow underfoot. Lower quality laminate can sometimes sound hollow underfoot when walking across it.

Laminate flooring is made of multiple layers adhered together and heated in factory settings. Most laminate flooring consists of 4 layers: the backing layer, the core layer, the image layer, and the wear layer. The backing can vary depending on the product but is often made of melamine, cork, felt or another soft product to allow the laminate to sit comfortably on the floor. The core layer is typically comprised of recycled wood fibers tightly compressed into a dense wood-like core, sometimes referred to as a high-density fiber (HDF) core. The image layer is where the desired look (e.g. wood, stone) is printed onto the product and texture is added through a process called ‘embossing’ to make it feel similar to the material it is made to look like. The wear layer is a clear protective layer manufactured on top of the image layer. The wear layer is often made from aluminum oxide and designed to prevent the floor from scratching or showing excessive wear over time. Higher quality laminate products often boast an extra resilient wear layer that makes the product scratch, dent and fade resistant.

Pergo is the flooring brand that invented laminate flooring. Founded in 1977, has since expanded its offerings to sell hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring in addition to laminate.

Water resistance

Although Pergo is laminate, it is not waterproof. However, it is water-resistant, giving Pergo floor owners a 30-minute period to clean up spills without leaving lasting damage.

Durability

Part of what makes Pergo laminate desirable to many homeowners, especially those with kids and pets, is the durability it boasts, being both stain-proof and dent-resistant.

In short, no, you shouldn’t try to match hardwood floors to laminate. Understanding which flooring material you can and can’t mix is important to achieving your best-designed home.

Laminate flooring comes in tons of different style, but most of the time it mimics the look of hardwood and tile flooring. The top layer of laminate flooring, known as the wear layer, is a protective layer that helps reduce damage like scratches and stains. Under the wear layer is the design layer which is a high-resolution photograph. This is the part of the laminate that determines what the flooring will look like. Often higher-quality and more expensive types of laminate look more like the flooring material they are mimicking. There are additional layers that don’t affect the look but are also important to consider when buying laminate flooring. Beneath the design layer is the core layer that protects from indentations and moisture. Finally, under that is the back layer that further protects the plank against moisture and balances the floor.

Tongue and groove laminate is a type of flooring that allows for each plank to easily interlock with one another. On each individual laminate plank, one side has a small flat edge, or the tongue, while the other side has a larger grooved edge that will hold the tongue in place, so your floors fit snuggly. Tongue and groove flooring makes for super simple installation.

If you’re looking to save some money and install the floors yourself, tongue and groove laminate floors are a great option. Although most tongue and groove style laminates are simple, some take a little bit more effort to get that perfectly gap-less lock. Overall, tongue and groove laminate is a great alternative to other types of laminate flooring that may require floors to be glued to the subfloor, which can get messy.

Unless the tongue or groove is damaged, each plank will fit seamlessly one after another to create a beautiful floor. If there is any damage to either the tongue or the groove and they are installed improperly, it could lead to an unstable floor. Because of the locking mechanism between planks, there is also an opportunity for moisture to creep in if the floor isn’t installed properly. Moisture between the boards can cause the laminate to shrink and expand throughout the year, which can also create an unstable floor. Understanding the humidity in your area is an important factor when deciding whether or not tongue and groove laminate is right for your home. We recommend consulting with a professional sales associate at Flooring America to find the best laminate for your space.

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