Simple Buyer’s Guide to Selecting Laminate Flooring

New oak parquet of different colors of laminate floorThe boom in laminate wood flooring first began with the introduction of Pergo in 1994, and demand for laminate has been high since. So much so, that the number of manufacturers with laminate flooring on the market has skyrocketed, making homeowners who are shopping around for the best deal more than a little confused and overwhelmed. There are a few important things to consider when the decision to purchase laminate flooring has been made. Among them are the price, design, AC rating (durability), warranty, and brand of the flooring. Use the buyer’s guide below to help make purchasing laminate floors easier.

Price: The price of laminate wood flooring is not always an indicator of value. Stay away from the cheapest options, as you may be purchasing discontinued or second-run flooring. Should a board ever need to be replaced, you’ll wish you had spent a little more in the beginning. Also, stay away from the most expensive brands, as the high cost is only an indicator of supply and demand, and not necessarily the manufacturer’s quality. Laminate wood flooring will run you about $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot for good, first-run laminate. The best advice is to shop according to your budget.

Design: There are more design options available than there are cost options. Laminate flooring comes in single strip, two strip, or three strip sections with either square edges, beveled edges, or micro-beveled edges. The wood grains and colors available are almost limitless, as are the surface treatments and finishes. Examples of pre-finished laminates include bleached, antiqued, or pickled. The one thing you probably won’t have to choose between is the installation type. Most laminate wood floors are the non-glue, floating type of flooring that is quick and easy to install by the homeowner.

AC Rating: AC ratings will only apply to laminate wood flooring manufactured in Europe. The system was developed by the Association of European Producers of Laminate Flooring. The ratings range from AC1 to AC5, with AC1 being the least durable, or suitable for low traffic residential areas. Anything over an AC3 is overkill for residential flooring, as AC4 and AC5 are recommended for commercial use.

Warranties: Picking laminate wood flooring with an adequate warranty is important. A good rule of thumb is to stick with warranties of at least 15 years, though it is easy to be misled into a poor warranty program because of a high number of years. Make sure the warranty also offers protection against premature fading and wear. An exceptional warranty program will also offer accidental coverage for your new laminate wood flooring.

Brand: It may be tempting to pick the most popular brand, but again considering supply and demand, you might be picking the most expensive brand unnecessarily. There are many inexpensive and quality manufacturers of laminate from which to choose. A good idea is to visit the website of each and review customer comments and evaluations. Consider the overall reputation of the manufacturer when making a decision on laminate wood flooring.