Laminate can be a terrific option for buyers looking for design realism and durability at a great value. To help you understand this flooring type a little better — and help you find the best laminate flooring for your home — we've answered some of the questions you may have.
Architectural Remnants, Woodland Reclaim Old Original Dark | L3101
What is laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring is one of the most versatile, durable and easy-to-maintain flooring types available. It's a synthetic flooring that's made up of several layers and is designed to look like authentic hardwood, stone, tile and other materials. Advanced design innovations allow for highly realistic visuals in a wide variety of styles and colors.
Is laminate flooring durable?
Very. Multi-layer construction makes laminate highly resistant to wear, stains, and heavy traffic — making it very popular with people who have kids, pets and otherwise active homes. At Armstrong Flooring, our laminate is available in a range of performance levels, including some that are rated for commercial use.
How is our laminate flooring constructed?
Each layer in the laminate flooring structure serves a distinct purpose, but they all work together to make it reliably durable. What the layers are called and the exact specifications for each layer may differ depending on the manufacturer and the product, but here's what you'll find in Armstrong Flooring's laminate flooring products:
- Wear Layer – VisionGuard® is a clear, hardened melamine layer that protects the floor from spills, stains and fading and resists scuffs and scratches. Many of our high-quality laminate flooring products actually have Commercial VisionGuard®, which has a higher abrasion test rating and provides ultimate protection.
- Design Layer – A photographic image displays highly realistic visuals of hardwood or natural stone.
- Inner Core – HydraCore™ is our moisture-resistant HDF (high density fiberboard) that provides the flooring with stability, durability and moisture resistance. Our highest quality laminate flooring products feature HydraCore™ Plus, which further adds a more substantial feel and optimum sound absorption.
- Backing – This balancing layer protects the floor from warping.
Does laminate flooring look like real wood?
It sure can. Also stone, ceramic and even unexpected materials like concrete or metal. And it's not just the photographic image on the design layer that makes this realism possible — it's also the embossing techniques that are used to create a visual and texture that are consistent with each other. What you see matches what you feel.
Embossing intensifies the depth, texture and natural look of the floor, accentuates the design (especially when light is reflected off the surface), and allows for micro-grout lines and precise detailing.
Embossing also makes it possible to achieve rustic hand-scraped or wire-brushed styles that look like real reclaimed wood, or pitted concrete reminiscent of a weather-worn seawall.
Where in my home can I install laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring can be installed almost anywhere in your home, above or below ground, as long as you have a structurally sound, clean, dry and flat subfloor. It's great in bathrooms, kitchens, mudrooms, foyers, dining rooms, living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms.
You can also install laminate over existing floors made of wood, concrete, ceramic tile, vinyl sheet or even carpet. (Carpet must be fully adhered and no more than 1/4" thick over suspended wood subfloors.) See installation instructions for all the details.
How long can I expect my laminate floor to last?
A long time. A lifetime even! It really depends on the product you choose and how you maintain it, as well as the degree of wear placed on it. Speaking for Armstrong Flooring products, the minimum warranty we offer on laminate is 20 years, but most products have warranties of 30 to 50 years for residential use.
Rest assured, laminate is extremely durable and resists scratches, stains and indentations better than most flooring types available.
Is laminate flooring suitable for homes with pets?
Laminate flooring is a great option for households with pets. It's highly durable and designed to withstand scratches and scuffs, but as a precaution, it’s a good idea to keep your dog or cat's nails trimmed and wipe up messes as soon as soon as they happen. The beauty of laminate is that if something happens to a plank or tile, it’s easy to replace it.
How do I choose the best laminate floor for my style?
You have a lot of options here. You could go to your nearest retailer and pick the one that jumps out at you, or you can start your search by browsing our laminate flooring and using the filters to narrow down your options. No matter how you choose, remember this is the fun part! And we can help make it easier with a preview of the options you can expect to see.
Start with the basics: your design style. Will this room have a contemporary feel? Urban? Rustic? Cottage? Coastal? Eclectic? Different collections are usually geared toward different styles. For example, if you love the look of reclaimed wood, you can look to our Architectural Remnants™ collection and find several interpretations of the style, from exotic hand-scraped wood to weathered beach-inspired designs. Your Southwestern style might call for laminate stone-look flooring that mimics Spanish stone pavers.
Laminate is available in a wide and exciting palette of colors, so whatever your style, you're guaranteed to find one that goes with your decor and the look you're trying to achieve.
Different types of laminate will offer different levels of realism by way of texture. At Armstrong Flooring, our laminate products have one of three types of texture:
- Embossed-in-Register (EIR) – Highest level of realism, which aligns the design image with the texture — for example, wood knots, chatter marks, wood grain and tile grout lines.
- Overall Texture (OT) – You can feel texture across the entire surface, but it does not align to the design image.
- Hand-Scraped Texture (HST) – Wood designs with this texture will have a soft to heavy hand-scraped effect, sometimes with chatter marks.
Laminate flooring comes in a wide variety of sizes, depending on the look you choose. Most wood look planks are 4" or wider while ceramic tile looks range between 12" and 15". Keep in mind that the width of individual boards can have a dramatic influence on the look of a floor. Wide widths (up to 7" or more) are on trend and can make a room feel open and sophisticated. However if room is too small, wide planks can feel overwhelming. Select the look that harmonizes with the style and architecture of your home.
Do you prefer a fine finish (high gloss) or matte (low gloss) look? Choose whatever look fits your decor or personal taste best. Either way, the gloss level of laminate flooring has very little effect on durability or performance. Low-gloss floors may hide the appearance of minor surface scratches slightly better than higher gloss floors.
What is the best laminate flooring for active homes?
Any laminate is going to give you outstanding durability, but if you really want to be safe and go for something that's going to last for the long haul, look at premium collections with higher AC (abrasion criteria) ratings. The higher the AC rating — they range from AC1 to AC5 the better the wear resistance and durability of the product.
All Armstrong Flooring laminate products have an abrasion test rating of AC3 or higher. Products with our Commercial VisionGuard® wear surface provide the ultimate protection with AC4 and AC5 ratings. Check out our premium residential collections like Architectural Remants™ and Rustics Premium™.
Is it true that I can put laminate flooring on my walls?
Yes! Well, at least with Armstrong Flooring you can! Three of our best laminate flooring collections — Architectural Remants™ and Rustics Premium™ — can be installed on the walls. This isn't the "faux wood paneling" you might be imagining, but a new-and-improved version of the mid-century trend. It's making quite a stylish comeback in all sorts of places: accent walls, wainscoting and even smaller design features like recessed wall niches.
Can I install laminate flooring myself?
Absolutely! Depending on the size of your space, installing laminate floors can be a weekend DIY project you can do by yourself or with the help of a few friends. We have some of the best laminate floors for DIYers thanks to our exclusive Lock&Fold® installation technology, which is also referred to as a "floating installation." The laminate floor simply rests on top of the subfloor without being fastened down with nails or glue. All you do is insert the long end of one board into the long end of the one before it, then fold it down. It's a snap!
Of course, not everyone's got the DIY bug (and that's OK!) so you may find it worthwhile to leave it to the pros.
Can I get trim and molding to match my laminate floor?
Yes. If you can, try to find exact matching trim and molding for a more seamless look. Every one of Armstrong's laminate flooring collections has trim and molding that are a 1:1 digital match, meaning your trim and molding pieces will be the exact style and color as your flooring.
Choose from T molding, flush stair nose, overlay stair nose, quarter round and multi-purpose reducer/threshold.
How do you care for laminate floors?
To keep your beautiful laminate floor looking that way, just sweep and use a microfiber mop, along with a cleaning product recommended for laminate (try Armstrong Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner). Guard against scratches and wear by placing mats at outside entrances to collect excess moisture, sand and grit. Use felt floor protectors under furniture and appliances. Even the toughest floors don't do well under heavy dragged furniture!
How do you get scratches out of laminate floors?
While laminate flooring is extremely durable, no floor is indestructible. You can easily repair nicks or scratches with a color-matched kit. If the damaged area is large, you can also opt to replace the individual planks affected. For major repairs, however, it’s best to consult with a flooring professional.