Laminate flooring can be a good value
By Karen Youso
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Q: Can you tell me about floating, wood-like flooring? I'd like to know about durability, maintenance and cost.
A: Laminate flooring is remarkably durable, stain-resistant and does not need to be varnished or waxed, so it's very easy to maintain. It is a good choice for homes with children, pets and busy adults. It's also inexpensive, and installation is easy enough for the average homeowner.
Laminate flooring is a surface layer of one or more thin sheets of a fibrous material (usually paper), impregnated with resins (usually melamine). These sheets are either pressed together or onto a substrate and finished with a backing. A very realistic photo of wood provides the decorative image.
Laminate floors are installed using a "floating floor system" in which a padded underlayment sits between the subfloor and the laminate planks. The planks sit directly on the underlayment but are anchored at the edges. Some laminate floors lock together without the use of adhesive. Such glueless laminate floors make for easy repairs later.
Some installations have a slight give or "bounce" and sound hollow when you walk across them. There are underlayment products available to minimize this. (To see how loud such flooring might be, try dropping your keys on the showroom's laminate display.)
Higher-end laminates tend to be more durable and often have extended warranties.
Flooring that simulates exotic varieties of hardwood flooring can be more expensive.
Remember that the "cost per square foot" is just one component of the price. Depending on the condition of the subfloor or if you plan to install the laminate in a basement, you may need to do additional work. You also may need to purchase finishing supplies such as molding and transition pieces. There also may be installation charges. Consider all of these to get an accurate cost of a laminate floor.
You can save money by installing laminate flooring yourself. It's easy enough to do, especially in rooms with even floors. To get an idea of how it's done, view the Ikea laminate video clip at www.startribune.com/a2203.
Some manufacturers offer free video instructions for laying laminate. Ask your retailer.
Includes information from Wood Floor Covering Association and North America Laminate Floor Association.
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Karen Youso is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Send a note by clicking here.
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