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For the average homeowner, seeing the difference in laminate over hardwood is pretty difficult. Laminate is made from a backing board, a layer of wood-appearing paper, and a cover of protection all glued together. A lot of very large companies make laminate, including trusted companies like Armstrong, in an effort to provide a durable and affordable solution for high traffic areas.

There are two types of laminate, high-pressure and direct. High-pressure laminate applies heat, followed by pressure and then gluing, creating a material with greater longevity. Direct laminate is created all in one process. This makes a thinner material that’s suited to the meeting spaces of two types of material (like a wooden floor and tile floor).

Unlike hardwood, laminate resists gouges better thanks mostly to the backing. Stains or scratches also can’t easily get through the protective surface. Additionally, most laminate doesn’t require uninstalling the current floor (unless its carpeting). It lays pretty easily over linoleum and tile, for example. Additionally the interlocking system design of laminate allows it to lay over top of the old flooring without adhesive. This has two advantages – it makes repair quite quick and easy, and it also allows you to take up the laminate years down the line when your tastes or styles change again. Underneath, the previous floor is still intact.

Laminate comes in all manner of designs and colors from which to choose. In terms of cost comparisons, some laminate costs half as much as basic hardwood. When installing laminate, the materials only need to be on site for a few days to adjust to the environment of the home (where hard wood requires several weeks. This is a nice way to avoid costly building and decorating delays.

Two words of caution here. Buying a discontinued product or “seconds” can mean trouble in the years ahead should you ever need to replace a small portion. Secondarily, don’t buy any product off line unless the company can provide you a sample. Visual inspection is the only way you can really judge quality.

And what about maintenance? Water spilled on laminate needs the most immediate attention as does water seeping up from below. This his the greatest potential source of damage or mold. Most laminates won’t require regular refinishing, and they clean up with simple damp rags or mops.


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