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Discover the problems with laminate flooring

Discover the problems with laminate flooring

Laminate sometimes gets a bad reputation and can be overlooked when considering which flooring to choose for your home but increasingly laminate has a lot going for it. At Flooring by Nature, our aim is to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase so in this post, we will explore both the advantages and disadvantages of laminate flooring.

What is laminate flooring made of?

Laminate is constructed of 4 separate layers, the largest of which is a high density fibreboard (HDF) which gives the floor its strength and rigidity. Underneath the HDF layer is a backing layer primarily used as a balancing agent to stabilise the board in order to stop cupping and bowing. The backing layer can be made from various materials but is often a thin sheet of melamine to give the board extra moisture protection. Directly above the HDF is the design layer which is paper printed with the image that will ultimately give you the colour and pattern of your floor. Finally, a clear lamination sheet usually formed from coats of aluminium oxide gives the floor its wear layer. The strength of the wear layer will be one of the key factors in determining the cost of the product as higher quality boards will have greater moisture protection and scratch resistance.

Laminate Flooring Layers

Does laminate flooring expand? Does laminate go under skirting?

As laminate is a wood based product, it does expand and contract which changes in temperature and humidity. Because of this, an expansion gap is required around the full perimeter of the floor. This can be hidden by fitting the skirting boards over the top of the gap or, if this is logistically difficult, beading could be fitted up to the skirting boards instead. Beading is often available in finishes to match your flooring or you could paint it to match the skirting boards.

 

Is laminate waterproof?

This is a difficult question as there are different ways to assess the answer. Cheaper products cannot usually claim to be waterproof as their top layer is not strong enough or the click joints where one board meets another are not sufficient to prevent moisture ingress. Other laminates will have sufficient confidence in their joints and top layer to be defined as having a waterproof surface. This is a good start and should be fine for most living spaces but caution is advised in areas with higher levels of moisture such as bathrooms/utility spaces. There are two potential problems.

Firstly, if there is an imperfect or damaged joint, moisture can get beyond the top layer and begin to damage the HDF core. This could also happen if the edges of the floor are not sufficiently protected because there will always be an exposed edge to the plank because of the need to leave expansion gaps when fitting. Higher quality laminates address this problem by treating the HDF core to make it moisture resistant as well, giving you a fully waterproof option. This is the level of protection featured in our Ocean range flooring.

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Is laminate eco friendly?

Yes. Laminate is largely constructed using fibres that are leftover from other wood processes such as saw mill waste and forestry management. There are many advantages to this such as preventing large quantities of waste heading to landfill as well as also giving us a product that is largely recyclable.

Can laminate be installed on top of underfloor heating?

Yes, although steps should be taken to ensure the floor temperature does not get too hot and damage the floor. Tolerances are usually around 27 °C but this should be checked on a case by case basis. Your underfloor heating should be turned off and given sufficient time to cool before fitting your floor. With some heating systems, this will need to be done a few days in advance. Once your new floor has been fitted, the underfloor heating should be reintroduced slowly by increasing the temperature a few degrees at a time. Please consult manufacturer guidelines for specific instructions before commencing your installation.

Does laminate need underlay?

Most laminates will require an underlay. This will help to reduce the impact of any subfloor imperfections as well as providing additional moisture protection. Certain underlays can also help reduce impact sound making your floor quieter to walk on.

Does laminate flooring look cheap?

Some of the cheaper products out there will look more artificial but advances in high definition printing and texture embossing mean there are some fantastic options that look and feel incredibly realistic.

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Does laminate flooring scratch?

Again this will vary depending on the quality of the product but in general, laminate is extremely scratch resistant. To help differentiate one range from another, most products should have an AC (Abrasion Class) rating ranging between 1-6 to measure levels of scratch resistance. Levels 1-3 would be deemed suitable for residential use and 4-6 giving the highest levels of protection and being suited for commercial floors.

Our Ocean range is classified at AC4 meaning it would be appropriate for the heaviest residential traffic and moderate commercial traffic. If you have a need for even greater levels of scratch resistance please let us know and we can offer alternative ranges.

Is laminate flooring good for pets?

Better quality ranges are an excellent choice for pet owners due to the high level of scratch resistance and moisture protection.

Does laminate flooring creak?

A creaking floor is usually down to an uneven subfloor. If the subfloor has variations in height or bumps etc, this will put additional strain on the joins between planks, especially when being walked on, and this is where the noise comes from. Where possible, steps should be taken to make the subfloor as smooth and level as possible.

Can I use a steam cleaner to clean my laminate?

Steam cleaners are not recommended for use with this product.

Is laminate suitable for kitchens?

Yes, laminate makes a great kitchen floor but because the floor will contract and expand with temperature changes it is important the kitchen units be fitted first with the boards fitted as a floating floor around them so the floor is free to move.

Is laminate suitable for bathrooms?

Provided the product has a sufficient level of moisture resistance (like our Ocean range), it is fine to go in bathrooms. However this product is not suitable for saunas or wet rooms.

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, please get in touch and we will do our best to find the answer for you!

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