In recent years, installing a new hardwood floor has become one of the most popular home decorating projects. Everyone seems to love the beauty, warmth and style that a wood floor adds to any home. Sadly, solid wood floors are not cheap, and many homeowners find that the cost for a new floor is beyond their budget. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive solution – laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring is a flooring product that closely imitates the look and feel of an actual hardwood floor. Not to be confused with engineered wood flooring, which consists of real wood, laminates are manufactured from fabricated materials.
Several different layers make up any one laminate plank. Each layer is made from a different material. Starting from the ground up, the first layer is a backing layer. This helps hold the entire plank together and provides a moisture barrier and a strong foundation. This is normally made from melamine.
The next layer is the core and contains the bulk of the material. This layer can be made from several different materials, but HDF (High Density Fiberboard) seems the most commonly used. This layer is normally impregnated with some mixture of melamine and resins that adds to the water resistance of the plank.
The next layer is the image layer. This is a high-definition photograph of a piece of wood that the laminate flooring is meant to imitate. It is possible to imitate any flooring material in addition to wood, including stone or tile. This gives the homeowner the ability to install an “exotic” wood floor for a fraction of the cost of the real thing.
The top or final layer is the wear layer. This layer is made from melamine and aluminum oxide and is very durable. Some manufacturers go as far as to emboss this layer to simulate the wood grain that would be found on a traditional wood floor. This makes for a very realistic design that is difficult to tell from solid wood without closer inspection.
The cost difference between laminate and solid wood flooring can be significant. Hardwood flooring is traditionally sold by the square foot. Most hardwood flooring costs between $4.00 to $8.00 per sq. ft. Some exotics can cost a great deal more. Laminate flooring can usually be found starting at $1.50.
Installation costs for solid wood are usually higher. In most cases, a professional flooring installer will be needed to insure a proper installation. Most homeowners can install a laminate floor by themselves.
There are substantial cost savings involved when choosing laminate flooring over solid wood floors, For those homeowners looking for the time-honored beauty of a hardwood floor, without the sometimes prohibitive costs of a traditional hardwood, laminate wood flooring is the ideal solution.