Laminate Floor Buying Guide

Laminate flooring is attractive and durable. Introduced in 1977, it quickly gained popularity as a lower-cost alternative to wood.  It now simulates wood flooring, natural stone flooring and more.

Large sheets of laminated flooring are made and are later milled into planks with varying widths and lengths. The planks are given tongue and groove edges for locking them together.

This laminate floor buying guide provides an overview of this attractive flooring material. See our other laminate flooring guides for information on, installation and care & maintenance.

Materials, Lengths and Patterns

Similar to solid wood flooring, you’ll find laminate in hundreds of width and finish combination. Finishes replicate all species of wood in various shades, many types of natural stone flooring and more.

Laminates with a wood appearance realistically capture the distinctive grain patterns and vibrant colors of real hardwood floors. While hardwoods may be out of reach for some home remodeling budgets, laminate makes them easily accessible. Embossing, texture and random plank lengths add to the realism. 

Laminate with a stone or tile appearance offer the beauty and realism of genuine stone, slate, or ceramic tile. These floors offer rich colors, unique textures, dimensional depth and variation, ridges and indentations that mimic quality stone and fine Italian ceramic tile - for a completely natural-looking floor.

Wear and Durability

The melamine wear layer on most laminate floors is very tough, though some cheaper laminate products are not as durable. Some leading brands can be expected to look good for 20-35 years and possibly longer. More affordable laminate will last 10-20 years.

Of course the more you look after your floors the longer they will last, so take care and use the right laminate floor cleaner wherever possible.

Current Trends

Laminate floors tend to follow and keep abreast with solid hardwood flooring trends. So right now vintage style laminates are in, wide planks, distressed looking wood, anything in fact that looks ‘old world’. Laminate floors that mimic ceramic tile, slate and granite flooring are also very popular right now.

Laminate Flooring FAQs
Q: Is laminate flooring easy to care for?
A: Yes. Laminate is very easy to maintain. Sweeping and light mopping is often all that is required. See the guide Maintenance, Care and Cleaning of laminate Flooring for all the details.

Q: Can laminate flooring be refinished?
A: No. When the wear layer is worn, the flooring will need to be replaced. Some add a coat of polyurethane over the melamine, but the results are varied.

Q: What is harder to install, a solid wood floor or laminate flooring?
A: Genuine wood flooring. Laminate is very easy to install. For most applications, the planks are not nailed together or to the subfloor. The piece interlock to keep them in place. They may or may not be glued. See our Installation Guide for Laminate Flooring for complete details.