Laminate Flooring

Laminate Flooring

The fastest growing flooring choice in America is laminate flooring. Its European fame has made it spread quickly into the United States due to popular companies like Pergo. Laminate floors. or Pergo floors as it is often referred to after the brand, are known for their low cost, ease of installation, and great looking features.

Because of its layered construction laminate floor is much cheaper than its hardwood counterpart. The visible layer is the pattern layer and is protected by a thin layer of laminate. usually made of aluminum oxide, which is resistant to scratches, burns, chipping, dents, etc. and most importantly, suitable for foot traffic. The pattern layer is made from a screen that is created to replicate the look of real wood or tile floors. The core layer is created using High Density Fiber which is moisture resistant and durable. The HDF layer is very difficult to scratch or stain and houses the locking system which aids in the installation of the floor.

All laminate flooring is installed using the free-floating method which means the laminate flooring simply lies on top of the sub-floor. This makes it easy to install as well as uninstall on a wide variety of sub floors. While some brands still make glue together planks most have switched to a no glue locking system which allows the planks to snap together in no time. Since the majority of laminate floor choices are glue-less individual planks can be replaced when needed making it extremely affordable to maintain. Its glue-less floating installation also makes it easy to self install for the do-it-yourselfers out there.

For consumers shopping on a budget that are looking for a great looking floor that will last and is easy to maintain laminate is the choice for you.

Decorating With Laminate Flooring

Decorating with laminate flooring is very similar to decorating with wood flooring. Although similar to wood flooring, laminate flooring does not have as much texture as wood floors, so basically your choices are in color.

As with most other types of flooring, remember that the color of your floor will be the background and foundation for your overall decorating scheme. If you’re working with dark furniture, you may want to consider a lighter colored floor. With light furniture, a medium or darker colored floor may be a better choice.

Although most of the patterns and colors available with laminate flooring resemble wood, there are some ways to get creative if you have the space in which to do it. For example, WILSONART and BRUCE make a line of color coordinated tiles that can be used for an entire floor, or as a border with the wood look patterns.

Generally, you want to make sure that you have a large enough room or total area if you plan on using these tiles as borders. For instance, if you are doing a small bedroom—let’s say a 10′ x 10′ area—using these borders might be a mistake. In a small area such as this, after you place all of your furniture, you will probably not see as much of the border as you would like. In addition, bordering out a small room will tend to make the room look even smaller.

On the other hand, if you have a larger area—a living and dining room together that measure 14′ x 25′ for example—the border may look very attractive and accent the room very well. It will probably not cut down the overall look of a larger room either, as it would in a smaller room.

In some cases you can even use these borders as an inset in one area to highlight that area. For example, let’s say you have that same living and dining room, 14′ x 25′, you can use the tiles in the dining room inset in the middle of the wood pattern underneath the dining room table. This will give you a very formal and classic look and will help distinguish one room from the other.

Another consideration when deciding on the finished look of your laminate floor will be the baseboard or quarter round molding you will use. Since the laminate floors are all free floating, you must leave a space or expansion joint along all the walls in order for the floor to expand and contract properly. In doing this, you can leave a gap that then needs to be covered. If you have no existing baseboard on your walls, or you’re planning on removing your existing baseboard, than you will need to install new baseboard after you install the laminate floor.

The decision you will need to make in this case, is whether to use a matching baseboard or a painted baseboard. Our preference is to use a painted baseboard. We feel this way because we have seen both, and the painted baseboard is a nice contrast with the floor while blending with the walls. Since the baseboard is on a vertical surface up against the wall, it is a part of the wall and should match the wall. If you’re doing a lager area, you will find that using the matching baseboard is a lot more expensive than using the painted.

Remember, this is only our opinion, if you like the look of matching baseboard, there’s nothing wrong with it, and you should use what you like. After all, you will be living in the house, not us. We can only tell you through experience what we feel looks the best, and what the majority of homeowners are using.

If you have existing baseboards that you will not be removing, you will need to install what’s called quarter round molding. If you can picture looking at a circle and dividing it into four, each would be a quarter round. The quarter round molding should match the existing baseboard. Again, you can use a quarter round that matches the floor, but it will most likely stand out if you have a light colored baseboard such as white, and your laminate floor is a wood pattern such as oak. For more information on baseboards, quarter round, and other moldings, please go to our Laminate Flooring Installation Products & Accessories page.

Remember, please call us if you are the least bit confused, have any questions at all, or just want to talk about laminate floors some more.

Laminate Flooring Game

Here we talk about the difficulty in shopping for a new laminate floor.

Four to five years ago if you decided on a new laminate floor, the choice would be simple. There were only three or four brands to choose from. Today, there are literally dozens of brands to choose from made by companies from all over the world. It is a confusing venture to say the least. If you want to shop for tile, wood flooring, carpet, or vinyl, you have the traditional qualities and ratings that help you decide which floor will best suit your needs. With laminate flooring, there are no ratings and it can be difficult.

Since this new age flooring has grown in popularity so quickly, it’s been hard even for us who sell the product to weed out the good from the bad. New manufacturers and products are coming into the market at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, like with any product, the major factor that drives sales is price. I’m here to tell you that price should not be the absolute deciding factor when shopping for a laminate floor. A little advice that I can give you would be to try and shop within the group of major well known manufacturers. If you stay with one of the larger companies’ products, at least if you do have a problem with the floor, they’ll stand behind it. Some of these new products hitting the United States are manufactured by companies outside the U.S. and they have little or no representation here. If you have a problem, you may be stuck dealing with the local guy you bought it from. In some cases, the local person may not be able to do much for you and if he does, it might take a while. If you purchase one of these generic no name brands on the Internet, you’re really on your own!

Another problem with shopping for laminate flooring is that most of the people you talk to in local stores, home centers, etc. don’t even know what they’re talking about. They might know their carpet, tile, or vinyl, but they’re lost when it comes to laminate flooring. This problem in some cases goes back to the distributors and manufacturers. I’ve talked with representatives who handle certain products and they don’t have a clue. In my opinion, the manufacturers should help educate the people who are out pushing their products and in turn, the distributors’ reps should educate the sales people in the local stores. In a perfect world I’m sure this would work out fine.

The end result to all of this confusion is that the consumer suffers. In a lot of cases the consumer may end up with a floor that will not live up to their expectations. There are some good quality laminate floors out there and there are some really poor quality ones as well. We are trying to help potential customers by using our own rating system. See our Ratings Sections for more details.

One thing I can tell you for sure, which may be something you already know, is don’t believe everything you read or everything you hear. I am directing this mainly towards the warranties on these products. The warranties on laminate flooring usually cover wear, stain, fade, and in some cases moisture damage. NONE of the warranties cover scratches! With that in mind, my advise is to go after the laminate floor with the best surface you can get for the money. A simple example is the 10 year warranty product versus the 15 year warranty product. Although there is only a difference of 5 years in the warranty, there is a major difference in the surface quality and construction. The simple truth is that the 10 year or low end products will scratch a lot easier than the 15 year or standard quality products. I would have to tell you that if you have a normal household, kids, pets, etc. there is no way that one of the lower end products will give you 10 years of life and still look good.

Another fact is that the installers get the same price to install a lower end product as they do to install a standard line. When you do the math I think you will find that in the long run the standard quality products are actually a much better value than the lower end products. Considering you will be replacing the low end product much sooner than the standard quality, it ends up that the standard quality product is actually less expensive!

Pergo Invades the United States

This article discusses Pergo’s rise to fame in the United States, and the impact that they’ve had on the flooring industry.

If you’re in the market for flooring, it’s just about impossible that you haven’t heard of Pergo. In my opinion, Pergo has done for the flooring industry what Elvis and the Beatles did for Rock and Roll. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but in the 70s or, possibly, the early 80s, DuPont introduced their Stainmaster carpet protection. It wasn’t carpet; it wasn’t even carpet fiber; it was just a stain treatment that they applied to the fiber. DuPont poured so much money into advertising the name Stainmaster that, to this day, customers still go out shopping for carpet and the first thing out of their mouth is do you carry DuPont Stainmaster? The name Stainmaster is more well-known than the carpet manufacturers themselves.

Well, I’m here to tell you that if Home Depot was around when DuPont first introduced Stainmaster, they would have saved a bundle on advertising. Pergo has done what DuPont did, but it probably cost Pergo a lot less to achieve. Pergo was one of the first manufacturers to introduce laminate flooring to the United States. In addition, they struck a deal with Home Depot to carry their line in the stores. Take the fact that Pergo floors were easier to install than most others at the time, they were extremely durable and Pergo’s new relationship with Home Depot, then throw in some strategic advertising, and you have the birth of a new era in flooring. Just about everyone I talk to, even if they’re not shopping for a new floor, knows what Pergo is.

The Pergo name has become so well-known that it is sort of the Q-Tip of the laminate flooring industry. I would have to say that 75% of the consumers I speak to ask if we carry those Pergo floors, or the one that looks like Pergo. They may be referring to one of the other 14 brands we carry, but they only know the Pergo name. I’m Italian, and occasionally I have to laugh when someone asks if we carry Prego instead of Pergo. I feel like quoting them on a jar of mushroom and garlic flavor and asking them if they’ll need any bread with the order.

Pergo has helped to change the flooring industry as we know it. I think it’s a change for the better. I have to admit that the flooring business was getting a bit dull and boring. Pergo started it, and just about every flooring manufacturer—and even some companies who never made flooring—is now playing follow the leader. Some of the big companies now playing the laminate flooring game are Wilsonart, Formica, and a bunch of others. The unique thing about Wilsonart, Formica and some of the others is that they never offered a flooring line before. They strictly manufactured laminates for cabinets, countertops, etc. This new industry has opened doors for some of these companies, and they’re glad to step through.

Let’s get back to Pergo. There is no doubt that Pergo has the No. 1 position. As with anyone in their position, Pergo is being attacked from all angles. Most of these attacks are coming from flooring dealers who don’t want to compete with Home Depot. Some are also coming from installers and do-it-yourselfers who don’t know how to properly work with their product and may have had a bad experience doing an installation. There also are cases involving problems with Pergo floors that most of the time are installation-related. If you set aside all of the rumors that you may have heard about Pergo, the truth of the matter is, they make a very good product. I’m not saying that they are necessarily the best quality available, but they’re not the garbage that a lot of people are portraying them to be.

The summary here is simple. You can’t go wrong buying a Pergo brand floor, as long as it’s installed properly. It likely will hold up just as well as some brands—and better than others. There are a lot of rumors flying all over the place, especially here on this great thing we call the Internet. Now, don’t get me wrong; I think the Internet is a great thing and you can get a lot of information here. The problem is that a good portion is misinformation handed out by people who only think they know what they’re talking about, or have something to benefit—assuming you believe what they have to say. Yes, you may hear about more problems with Pergo floors than you do with other companies’ products, but do you know why? Because Pergo sells about two to three times more laminate flooring than the other guys. With that much more exposure, you’re bound to hear more about them than the others. And as I mentioned previously, most of the problems you’ll hear about are installation-related. If you’re in the market for flooring, do as much research as you can, but be wary of all that you read because there’s always that possibility it may not be true.

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