Technology in the flooring industry improved drastically in the early '1980's and the technology of photography and digital printing also assisted the flooring industry to evolve to new products. Manufacturers tried to imitate wood and the evolution of laminates in the furniture industry prompted manufacturers to make a flooring with such laminates. Laminate flooring is nothing else but a high resolution picture of real wood that is printed on a decor paper and then pressed like a laminate onto a HDF core board. So essentially laminate flooring is like a furniture laminate that is pressed onto a 8mm HDF board and provided with a click lock to make the installation easy. Of course the laminate by itself is technically different than normal furniture laminates as this is going to be used on a floor.
How to select a laminate flooring? What should you look at in a product to determining which laminate flooring is a good product.
Most laminate floorings look very similar. When you visit a store you would normally look at only the colour and the appearance. It is extremely easy for manufacturers to produce or replicate colours and this has caused a lot of confusion in the minds of customers. So when you are looking or searching for laminate flooring keep in mind two essential points. Don't worry about the colour at the beginning. You will always find a colour you like in most stores. Since a laminate is trying to imitate wood, look for the detailing instead. See if the laminate is really coming close to real wood. What is the sense of using a laminate flooring that looks like another laminate or some plastic! Secondly, consider looking into the quality aspect of the HDF. This is the heart of the product. All HDF core boards look alike but a lot goes into making a high quality core board. What should you look for in a HDF core board? Here you go.....
- All HDF boards are made out of wood powder and resins pressed at a very high pressure. Since these are pressed products the density of the product and the amount of resin plays a very important part. If you have a low density board though it seems tough and ok but when exposed to the slightest of the water or moisture they will swell! Hence take care of this. Normally all good manufacturers will have a density of 850Kg/m3 or more. Don't stop at this. Ask for the swelling rate! Very good quality products have swelling rates less than 12%! And this is what you would need to use. Anything else is just an eye wash!
- Ever imagined sleeping in a room that emits fumes that are carcinogenic! Well a lot of cheaper laminate floorings have this problem. VOC emissions must be checked carefully before buying a laminate wooden flooring. After all you are sleeping in your bedroom for almost 8 hours a day!
- Look at the wear resistance of the product. Normally Class 21 to 23 is for residential use and class 21 to 33 is for light commercial applications. Most of the good companies give you a 15 years or more warranty for residential application.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of laminate flooring (sometimes referred to in India as laminate wooden flooring)?
Laminate floors are one of the most popular floors not only in India but across the globe. The main reason for this has been the ability of the floor to withstand a lot of abuse and of course the fact that the higher quality products come very close to real wood in terms of visual appearance on the floor. Besides the advantages there are some disadvantages which each customer must look into to understand if laminate wooden flooring is their best choice for their home or office.
Advantages of laminate flooring
- Laminate floors are very durable and easy to maintain.
- Laminate flooring is on a HDF board and hence extremely stable.
Laminate flooring is very appealing due to the high resolution image of wood. It can be used for number of years as a floor in your home.
- These floors do not collect dust or stain easily and can easily be can be semi damp mopped if needed.
- Easy and fast installation makes it an ideal choice for refurbishments/renovations.
- Cost effective compared to solid wooden flooring and engineered wooden flooring.
Disadvantages of engineered wooden flooring
- Laminate flooring is an imitation of wood although the more expensive products come close to imitating wood the lower end products are definitely not as appealing as real wood floors.
- Laminate floors tend to make a kitchen table sound. With most customers this is not a problem but for the discerning customer this is an issue for sure.
- Laminate floors are HDF based and hence have certain draw backs when it comes contact with water over a long time. This has to be closely studied and buying the right product is important.
I hope this has cleared some of the doubts that often come to a customer's mind and makes it easier for you to choose the right flooring for your home!
Wood on the blog is written by Priyesh Mody who has 25 years of experience in this industry