What is laminate flooring?

Laminate is what’s called a floating floor. That means it isn’t glued or nailed down. Precise engineering allows for extremely tight joints, so much so that the floor virtually becomes one piece. Small amounts of space at all edges allow for the floor to expand and contract with heat and humidity without putting any push-pull pressure on the joints.

Speaking of joints, laminate flooring is installed with either locking tongue-and-groove –like joints that are glued, or via special snap-together, locking joints. While glued installations are falling out of favor, some products are offered with pre-glued joints that need only be moistened to be activated if a tighter bond is needed, for example in wet areas. The snap-together versions are very popular because installation s are so fast and so exacting that a floor can be installed during the day and used that night. Regardless of what type of joint system you select, look for a quality brand of laminate and ask about what’s needed for use in kitchens and baths.

Today’s laminate is quite a catch. It’s available in a hose of designs – wood, ceramic and stone being just the start. There are new metals, patterns and designs as well. The most popular these days are the traditionals like oak and maple, but also the new exotic looks and textures of hand-scraped, rustic or antique wood and stone.

An emerging phenomenon is the ability to mix and match planks and tiles plus boarder and medallions for unusual, custom designs. Speaking of designs…here are a few design hints:

Don’t use more than three colors or patterns for a room, otherwise you’ll end up with a confusing design.

Thinking of an area rug, an heirloom perhaps? Check the floor design beneath to see they get along.

Think scale. Use smaller patterns in small rooms and larger patterns in large rooms

A large pattern in a small room will make the room feel even smaller.

Also note there are a few things you should do in conjunction with your retailer before your laminate goes down whether you do it yourself or a your professional installer does it.

Make sure the subfloor is in good condition. Laminate can be installed over most existing floors, with the exception of carpet.