Laminate Flooring Review
Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product fused together using a lamination process. This type of flooring can accurately simulate almost anything — wood, stone, even photographs or scans of anything imaginable — by covering a photographic applique layer with a clear protective layer. The interior layer is typically composed of melamine resin and fiberboard materials.
Laminate floors have grown in popularity since they were invented in Sweden in 1977 under the name "Pergo" and arrived in North America in 1994. Because of their durability, hygienic nature and ease of installation and maintenance, laminate floors have become a low cost alternative to hardwood, stone, and tile.
Glueless laminate (laminate planks locked together without gluing the tongue and grooves together) was invented in 1996, also in Sweden. However, a system for holding flooring panels together was developed by a competing Belgian company and released a year later.
Laminate flooring is typically packaged in a number of tongue and groove planks that can be clicked into one another. Occasionally, a pad is pre-attached to the backside of the planks to provide a faster installation then installing a pad separately and offers improved moisture and sound reduction properties.
It is vital to keep laminates clean. Dirt and other particles may scratch the surface in high traffic areas. It’s also important to keep them dry, as sitting water can warp or swell, though some brands come with water resistant coatings. Adhesive pads on the feet of furniture are also a good idea.
Beware of inferior laminate products, which can look less than convincing in their emulation of wood or stone and become separated (creating gaps between the planks).
It is also important to consider that laminate flooring is often made with formaldehyde and as such, air quality could be a concern due to the releases of volatile organic compounds. Some floors use a chemical process to reduce and neutralize such emissions.
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