Ever since the Pergo company introduced laminate flooring to Europe in 1984 and then to the United States 10 years later, the market for the product has exploded. With all the pros and cons of laminate flooring taken into consideration, it has become a best-selling floor covering, now produced by many companies. Sales of laminate now rival those of “real” wood flooring across the market.
Lack of Durability, But Ease of Replacement
Laminate flooring consists of thin layers of a wood-looking decorative finish, a heat-, indentation- and moisture-resistant middle, and a supportive backing. A clear, protective finish is applied to the top of each piece, very often consisting of aluminum oxide. The lack of durability due to this layering presents a negative in the pros and cons of laminate flooring that must be thought about before purchase.
When laminate is installed, it cannot be refinished. Since the decorative top layer is really only an image of the wood it is designed to emulate, attempts at sanding it will only succeed in stripping away that image and ruining the plank.
One of the benefits, however, to laminate flooring is that when a piece does become damaged, it can oftentimes be fairly easy to replace.
It is Easy to Install and Eco-Friendly
Of all the pros and cons of laminate flooring, another important factor to keep in mind, lies in its ease of installation. Because of the layered construction, laminate proves to be much more flexible and therefore much less difficult to cut and lay than real planks of solid maple, oak, mahogany, or even pine, which is considered a soft wood.
Laminate also can be purchased in tongue-and-groove pieces that simply snap together, eliminating the need for nails, screws, or messy adhesives. A foam underlayment is almost always required, however, before laying the planks.
Another, ecologically minded, benefit when considering the pros and cons of laminate flooring has to do with the issue of conservation. Even though many of the world’s forests are managed, and trees are considered a renewable resource, nothing can make them grow faster.
Consequently, the constant demand keeps the price of wood continually on the increase. Additionally, many people argue that the importance of our world’s forests far exceeds the need to have solid-wood flooring in homes.
Warmth and Beauty of Real Wood
No one can argue, however, when weighing the pros and cons of laminate flooring, over the looks and feel issue. There’s just no way laminate can reach the level of beauty or the feeling of warmth derived from real, solid wood flooring.
Also, the attractiveness of true wood floors only increases as it ages; it develops a patina that simply cannot be replicated by anything artificial. Wood also has a hefty, solid sound as opposed to the hollowness heard when walking across laminate flooring.
These are just a few things to consider when going over the pros and cons of laminate flooring. The ultimate decision, of course, is up to you. But don’t let indecision keep you too long from getting that new floor put in. Real or laminate, new flooring calls.