Different Types of Laminate Flooring
You might be surprised at how many types of laminate flooring options there are when you begin shopping for new flooring. Sorting through the various kinds of laminate flooring characteristics, such as AC ratings, systems and processes, is enough to overwhelm even the most experienced buyers. Toss in decisions about colors, thickness, and texture and you have quite the decision on your hands. With so many types of laminate flooring to choose from, how do you know what’s right for your needs?
We’re here to help answer that! Here’s a breakdown of all the different factors you will want to consider as you decide which laminate flooring types you should be shopping for.
Laminate Flooring Construction & Production Process
Perhaps the most important thing to consider first is where you will lay your laminate flooring. Laminates are constructed using three principal layers: the decorative layer, the core, and the backing layer. The core layer is manufactured out of wood pulp (wood fibers) and compressed using a high-pressure process. The compression process is what makes the floor resistant to take the shock of localized impacts, such as high-heeled shoes and falling objects. The higher the pressure used to produce the core, the more durable the laminate will be. Laminate flooring is produced in two different ways – high pressure and direct pressure. The amount of traffic your flooring will see will depend on the type of laminate flooring you choose.
- High Pressure Laminate (HPL) is made using over 1000 pounds of pressure. It is perfect for areas with high amounts of foot traffic.
- Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) is made using 300 – 500 pounds of pressure. Although still very durable, it is best used in areas with less foot traffic, such as small offices and homes.
Laminate Flooring Thickness
Thickness is measured in millimeters (mm) and is the one of the key characteristics in differentiating laminate flooring types . The most popular thickness levels are 7mm, 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm.
The more stable the subfloor, the thinner the laminate flooring you need. Thicker laminate flooring is best suited for areas where there may be as wood subfloor, slight unevenness or where sound is a factor, such as in homes or small offices.
If you’re installing in an area with built-ins, doors, cabinets or appliances, it will be important to measure how much space you have between the subfloor and the object, especially if movement of a door is needed. Also, be sure to confirm if the laminate has attached padding and if this is included in the thickness. Generally the product will list the plank thickness, plus the padding. If you are purchasing underlayment separately, be sure to factor in the thickness of the plank plus the underlayment.
- 6mm = 1/4″
- 7mm= 9/32″
- 8mm= 5/16″
- 10mm= 7/16″
- 12mm= 1/2″
- 14mm= 9/16″
Laminate Flooring Texture
One of the major advancements in laminate flooring is the aesthetics. Many types of laminate flooring looks like real hardwood! To achieve rustic or authentic looks, a certain amount of texture is used to get a desired look.
When choosing through textures, there are several kinds of laminate flooring to choose from:
- Satin / Smooth Finish – gives a subtle yet shiny finish to the flooring. It reflects some light but does not overpower the room with a glossy feel.
- Matte Finish– is one of the most popular textures. It mimics natural, hardwood floors with a distinct wood texture.
- Hand-Scraped Finish– is not actually hand-scraped. Instead, it is pressed to look like an authentic hand-scraped wood floor.
- Natural Wood Finish– looks and feels a lot like natural wood flooring. This is also very popular among today’s homeowners looking for the most authentic texturing.
- Soft Scraped Finish– takes a design and adds a subtle, timeworn finish to it. The look is very subdued.
- Oiled Wood Finish– is traditional in style but very popular with today’s buyers. It mimics natural, untreated hardwood floors, giving the look that the floors were treated with natural oils.
- High Gloss / Piano Finish – offers a shiny, elegant look. Ideal for an upscale, modern interiors
- Oxide Surface Finish– metallic finish giving a small dose of shine and metallic finish.Used often for modern, chic interiors.
- Slate / Stone Finish– replicates look and feel of the slate or stone.
Width of Laminate Flooring Boards
The width of each laminate flooring board plays a big roll in the overall look of your room. The size of the board can dramatically change the look of your room. Most traditional wood floors are skinnier boards, with more modern and rustic looks being a wider plank. There are a variety of laminate flooring types when it comes to widths. The most common ranges are as follows:
- 3 inch to 4 inch: These laminate floors are very thin boards that are often used to make a small room look bigger.
- 5 inch to 6 inch: A bit wider, these laminate widths are the most common on the market and can have styles and patterns for all types of decors.
- Larger than 6 inches: Larger widths are usually wide plank or tile looks. Wider planks look best in a larger space.
- Multi-Width: Mostly used for reclaimed or barn-wood looks, multi-width planks are becoming more and more popular to give a unique dimension to your rooms.
Laminate Flooring Edge Type
The laminate edge type describes how each plank is cut. The edge type impacts how the planks look together – whether it floats seamlessly, or has a defined edge. The main types of laminate edges include:
- Square Edge is where the floors are finished with 90 degree edges. This is a traditionally, sleek look offering a seamless transition from one plank to the next.
- Micro-Bevel is where each plank uses a very fine micro-bevel, or rounded corner. This is used in many modern homes.
- Deep Bevel or V-Groove is where each plank has a unique grooved, defined edge, much like a V shape. It makes the room look like it has solid wood planks throughout.
- Rolled Bevel is where the design and color of the floor “roll over” or continue beyond the edge. This gives each plank a very authentic look and feel, without as sharp as an edge.
- Painted Bevel is where the plank edges are painted along the groove for a more pronounced look.
Laminate Flooring Locking System
One of the benefits to laminate flooring is that you will not need to use a hammer and nails to install. Each of these locking systems are “glueless” so all you have to do is snap each plank firmly into place to create a floating floor. Many manufacturer’s have their own patented technology when it comes to locking systems, however, they can be divided into two main groups:
- Tongue and groove locking systems are the most popular. This system uses interlocking elements to piece together. This keeps them firmly in place so that they remain secure once installed.
- Mechanical systems are also used. These incorporate aluminum, mechanical locking systems from underneath the planks to keep the pieces together.
Laminate Flooring Styles
After you have selected which laminate flooring design you want on your laminate flooring, you must also decide on the style. There are three main styles of flooring to choose from.
- 3-strip plank design, which creates the look of 3 narrow strips of flooring within one plank.
- 2-strip plank design, which gives the look of natural hardwood appearance using a 2 strip design on one plank.
- 1-strip plank design, which gives the most realistic look of hardwood flooring. This styles usually offers the highest quality texture and comes in longer plank strips with beveled edges.
Laminate Flooring Features
Beyond the laminate flooring design, there are a few extra features that you can choose from when buying your laminate flooring. The features you choose affect what type of underlayment you need (if you need any), and how well your flooring will stand up to moisture.
- Built in underlayment is ideal for DIY installers since it simplifies the installation process. It also creates the firmest sound buffer in your home or office.
- Wax impregnated edges are used to enhance the moisture resistance of the flooring. The waxed edges create a seal once clicked together.
- Water resistant core also increases the life of your flooring. This is most commonly used in rooms where moisture is a factor, such as the bathroom or kitchen.
- Scratch protection offers an extra protective barrier against scuffs and scratches. It is ideal for people with pets and kids.
- Spill protection is a feature on several brands of flooring that offer protection for water or liquid on flooring for up to 24-72 hours without damage.
Not sure what kind of laminate flooring to select? Start here and view our step-by-step tutorial.