wooden floors with with windows

What is Laminate Wood Flooring & Is It a Good Choice for My Home?

Wood floors add charm and warmth, but they can be expensive. Many homeowners opt for wood laminate to get a similar look without the high price tag. Keep reading to determine whether laminate wood flooring is a good choice for your home...

How Is Wood Laminate Flooring Made?

This synthetic flooring features multiple layers laminated together. The bottom layer consists of melamine resin (a type of plastic) and fiberboard (made from wood fibers). On top is placed a photographic appliqué of wood, followed by a clear protective layer.

The photographic appliqué allows for seemingly endless options in terms of color, grain and texture. Any wood in existence-including cherry, hickory, maple, oak and pine-can be simulated, and recent styles have even included flooring that looks like stone, concrete and slate.

Fun Fact: When shopping for wood laminate flooring, you might see and/or hear it called Pergo. The name refers to the first product of its kind, which was invented by Swedish company Perstorp in 1977. Just like Kleenex, it gets used synonymously.

How Is Wood Laminate Flooring Installed?

The ease with which it can be installed is a major selling point along with the lower cost. The product comes as tongue-and-groove planks that are clicked into one another and placed on top of a foam or film underlay, which goes over the subfloor.

At edges, the flooring gets cut to fit. Baseboards should be removed and reinstalled for the proper finished appearance, or additional trim strips can be used as filler. Installing wood laminate flooring can be done by an experienced DIYer with the necessary tools and time, but if you have never taken on a project such as this it makes sense to assign the work to a professional. Your handyman can get the work done, with each room taking just a few hours after the existing flooring has been removed.

Pros and Cons of Wood Laminate Flooring

The synthetic flooring has multiple advantages when compared to other types. As mentioned, it usually costs less than real wood, with ranges from $0.50 to $3.50 per square foot and $3 to $13 per square foot, respectively. Because of the lower price, you can choose a wood look that you may not be able to afford if it were actual wood. This type of flooring also resists scratching, staining, and fading better than the real stuff.

Many homeowners also appreciate the eco-friendliness of certain products because they use recycled materials. You can also enjoy the look of a gorgeous but rare or endangered species of wood without breaking the law with the faux flooring.

In terms of drawbacks, standing water can damage wood laminate flooring, just as it can actual wood. Unlike wood, though, it cannot be refinished but must instead be replaced altogether.

To learn more about how wood laminate flooring stands up to other types of materials, check out this Wood Flooring Types: Pros and Cons post.

Caring for Wood Laminate Flooring

Regular cleaning simply involves a dust mop. You can spot clean with a damp sponge or mop, the latter for larger spills. It does not require polishing, waxing or refinishing, as real wood floors do. For more advice on how to clean floors of all kinds, check out this How to Mop and Clean Wood, Vinyl, and Laminate Floors post.