Laminate flooring is a popular option with homeowners because of its low cost and relative ease of installation. It's an attractive alternative to hardwood floors, and can be installed by some homeowners, but it's not without it's limitations and problems. We examine a few of the issues with laminate flooring so you can make an intelligent decision on using it in your home.
AppearenceEditLaminate is supposed to look like real wood, simulating the grain and texture of a wood floor. However, it is a synthetic product, so the natural variations seen in a wood floor won't be there with laminate. There will be more of a regular pattern and not the occasional light or dark plank that breaks up the view with a natural floor. The more expensive laminates do a better job of imitating the natural variations of hardwood floors, yet are still relatively inexpensive.
ChippingEditAs the name implies, these floors are built up of several layers laminated together, as opposed to a hardwood floor which has a large piece of wood that makes up the section of floor. Since it has multiple layers, it's possible for the laminate to be chipped when it is struck by a falling object, leaving a fairly visible chip (since the layer underneath has not been finished, it will, of course, be a different color).
MoistureEditMoisture is the enemy of most flooring, and laminates are no exception. Some areas, like a bathroom or the kitchen, can be a regular source of moisture, which will lead to discoloration and warping or even unpleasant odors for a laminate floor. A location near a door can lead to problems, espcially near a patio door. Once again pets and small children can be a source of problems when it comes to keeping the flooring dry. In the kitchen, some unexpected sources of moisture (ice maker/ dispensor, the sink, and disposal) can all be a source of moisture that will ruin the flooring.
Just like hardwood floors, a laminate floor can be fairly slippery, so young children (especially in socks) or larger pets like dogs may find that once they start going they have trouble stepping on these floors. In some spots the best way to combat this is to have an area rug, with either a traction pad underneath or a lining on the back to make it secured in one place.
If you are used to standing on a carpeted surface, you may find that a laminate floor, as well as a hardwood or tile surface, will lead to fatigue and back pain because of the unforgiving surface. You may want to try one of the fairly new kitchen pads that are made to each back problems.