Laminate flooring has become an extremely popular, inexpensive floor covering over recent years and its versatility enables it to be installed in every room in the house. Indistinguishable (using reputable makes) from real wood floors, and so easy to clean, an ambience can be created which can give your home a unique sense of style and charm.
Laminate flooring is an interlocking flooring system that uses the tongue and groove method of joining the individual planks. This tongue and groove system can be glued together, or more recently, clipped together using one of several dry joint methods, each particular to its manufacturer. All laminate floors have, at the top, a "wearlayer". This is generally comprised of a melamine resin which gets its incredible durability, wear and stain resistance from Aluminum Oxide. Under this wear layer, is generally a "print layer" which is simply a photograph of a real floor. The whole lot sits on a backing board.
Underneath the backing-board many choose to install an underlay. This is obviously optional but if you want to get the very best look and finish out of your new floor we highly advise that you do install an underlay. An underlay will not only provide a noticable amount of additional comfort underfoot but will also provide a reasonable amount of additional soundproofing and on uneven bases can help to level your floor and prevent your new laminate flooring from separating and cracking.
There are many different types of underlay available on the market today that vary in price and quality and in respect to this the general rules stand - you get what you pay for so we also advise on purchasing a good quality underlay as this will not only feel much more comfortable underfoot but should also last a lot longer.
If you are laying the laminate in areas that may suffer from damp or laying on top of underfloor heating elements then there are also specialist underlay’s available for these purposes so make sure you get the correct underlay for your particular situation.
If you already have an existing underlay on the surface you are laying onto do not be tempted to leave it there, renew it!! There is no point spending good money on good quality laminate flooring if you are going to do this as eventually the old underlay will crumble, crack and disintegrate and cause your lovely new flooring to bow, become uneven and eventually separate and crack!
In terms of the flooring itself, look for flooring with some of the following attributes.
HDF PROTECT: Is a registered method of using a high density fiberboard, impregnated with moisture resisting resins.
LOCTEC: Is a glue free installation. Simple and fast handling: Panels are simply locked into one another. Special profiling for a reliable four-sided lock. Can be walked on straight away. Thanks to tongue and groove sealing: no ingress of moisture possible if maintained according to our recommendation. Can be taken apart and laid again - ideal for house moves. No removal of residual glue necessary after installation.
SOUND PROTECT: Means optimum footfall noise absorption. thanks to an environmentally friendly, unique, dense integral underlay.
AQUA PROTECT: Means it is entirely suitable for the kitchen and bathroom. Highly resistant to moisture : a core board featuring a special component largely prevents swelling of the floor when in contact with water.
Laminate floors are hard wearing, resistant to household chemicals, hygienic, easy to clean and resistant to UV light (> level 6 Blue Scale, EN 20105 B02). They are available for Domestic and commercial use with a range of usage levels in both categories. Some examples of available colours can be seen below.
For more detailed information regarding flooring underlay and also types of laminate flooring and how to lay laminate flooring visit our Laying Laminate Flooring Project.