How to choose the right laminate
The choice of flooring is a task that must be solved with the utmost knowledge of the quality and performance characteristics of the material to be laid. The question “how to choose a laminate for a floor” has several significant aspects, on each of which it is necessary to focus attention. Having replenished the arsenal of knowledge with important information about the positive qualities and shortcomings of the popular flooring, it is easier to determine the priority properties for a particular buyer personally. Information on the advantages of products supplied to the market by manufacturers of laminate floors will also help in choosing.
- Arguments for a laminate floor
- Laminate flooring disadvantages
- The main enemy is water
- The second minus is the booming sound
Floor – an element of the interior, to the maximum extent subjected to various influences. Owners and visitors move along the flooring. Pet claws, thin heels, furniture legs, fallen heavy or sharp objects leave marks on it. This is the most polluted surface, much more often than others requiring care. At the same time, the flooring belongs to the category of conservative surfaces, since its replacement is extremely rare.
This means that the material for the floor chosen for the arrangement of the office, suburban mansion or apartment should steadfastly resist the entire range of the negative acting on it and faithfully serve the owners for the longest time. Therefore, they prefer to equip the premises with the help of a durable durable laminate, to the list of advantages of which democratic prices should be added.
Arguments for a laminate floor
The main attractive side is the affordability, due to which laminate flooring is bought more actively than other types of coatings. Moreover, buyers never have the question: “How to choose the color of the laminate?”. In the assortment range of any store a wide range of products from almost white to radically black tones.
Initially, the material imitated expensive types of wood. It was developed more than half a century ago for a consumer who does not have the financial ability to lay an elite natural parquet.
Later, customers who were convinced of the practicality of the laminated material were offered modifications of the laminate, which faithfully repeats the structure and color of noble granite, aristocratic marble, and durable clinker tiles. Now it is possible to equip a dwelling or commercial premises with the help of a laminated floor, repeating the appearance of leather, ceramic tiles, onyx and other semiprecious varieties of rocks. You can purchase a set of laminated flooring with a photo image, with a pattern of oriental carpets.
In addition to decorative attractiveness, there are also arguments convincing the consumer to give preference to the laminate, these are:
- versatility, allowing you to choose a laminate floor for installation in rooms of different sizes, configurations, purposes;
- simplicity of laying, which does not require professional skills from the contractor, if a “floating” type of floor covering with lock fastening is arranged;
- compatibility of most varieties of laminate with the “warm floor” system;
- strength, ability to hold steady impacts of falling objects, a number of dynamic and static loads;
- inertness to chemicals and fat-containing components;
- ability to endure without consequences any number of wet cleanings performed with a rag and special means;
- easy removal of scratches, for which a putty or a special repair pencil is used;
- fireproof, on the basis of which building codes allowed laying laminated flooring in wooden houses;
- heat resistance, thanks to which the floor cannot be damaged even by accidentally burning cigarette falling.
Laminate flooring will not need to cycle, grind its surface, varnish. Its fully prepared for laying boards do not fade in direct sunlight. Stains from the coating can be removed with acetone or soapy water..
Please note: it is not recommended to use a soap solution for regular care, because when it dries, it leaves whitish stains on the laminate.
Parquet sellers, promoting the environmental priorities of natural organics, will not be able to express complaints regarding the laminate, since only natural components were used in the manufacture of the material. This is one of the types of flooring recommended for installation in rooms where allergy sufferers and children live..
Laminate flooring disadvantages
Customers choosing the best material options should learn about the negative qualities of the laminate floor. They will certainly appear if the operating rules are not followed. Taking into account shortcomings is especially important for those who are puzzled by the question of which laminate to choose for the apartment. Indeed, in housing it is often necessary to carry out wet cleaning.
The main enemy is water
Despite the assurances of sellers and manufacturers, the laminate is not “friendly” with water. That is, the moisture-resistant material is excellent for sanitary procedures with a small volume of water, but it will be hopelessly spoiled after an emergency flood. Only commercial-grade products will be able to withstand water for several hours, although a long-term incident will not do without deformation consequences. Laminate panels, which are structurally a paper base in a multi-layer durable wrapper, can suffer and change the geometry around the perimeter. Hot water will be especially harmful. However, if suspended ceilings are installed in the premises, the owners can not be afraid of floods from the apartments from above (but you need to monitor the state of their own communications).
In an effort to rid the material of this flaw, manufacturers equip the laminate with layers that protect against moisture. It is recommended to use the treatment of castle joints with sealants when laying floating floors in corridors, kitchens, and when installing a glued laminated floor, binders with a water-repellent effect.
The second minus is the booming sound
To exclude it, a substrate is laid before installing the coating. The loud sound from fallen solid objects and from steps is explained by the properties of the fiberboard and particleboard panel, which is an excellent resonator. A number of manufacturers offer upgraded options with an existing soundproofing layer that eliminates reflection and amplification of sound vibrations. If you have chosen a budget laminate without a cushioning layer, it is advisable to use a polyethylene, rubber-cork or bitumen-cork substrate. By the way, it will serve as an additional leveling layer and protection of floors from condensation.
Options: glue and glueless
The specificity of the connection of the panels served as the basis for dividing the modifications of the laminate flooring into two types.
- Glue laminate, the elements of which are connected together around the perimeter with the help of high-speed adhesive compositions. The cheap cost of this flooring material is offset by upcoming costs. This is the need to acquire glue and hire professional workers with experience in styling. You will need fixtures and tools for firmly attaching the boards; you are unlikely to want to buy them for the sake of a one-time installation. The amount of costs makes you forget about the budgetary prices of the material itself, since the installation of a laminated adhesive floor can be more expensive than laying the more expensive “castle” laminate.
- Glueless flooring, an inexperienced performer will cope with its laying. Two varieties of it are presented on the market. The division into two subspecies is due to different mounting methods. There are panels that are connected to each other by clicking the Click lock, and panels that are fastened by driving elements of the Lock into each other. The latter variety is recommended for finishing a perfectly aligned surface. When mounting strips with Click locks, slight unevenness of the base is allowed. This option is more expensive, but for those who want to make work on their own easier in assembly and more convenient.
Which laminate is better to choose to form an almost monolithic surface? Of course, glue, it will not have gaps that allow moisture, dust and dirt brought from the street on the soles. But to repair the floor if one of the elements is damaged will be problematic. Without damaging the coating, it will not be possible to repair the equipment of the “warm floor” system, because when removing the damaged strip, neighboring elements will be damaged. Adhesive laminate flooring is also impossible to disassemble and use for recycling.
Glueless versions of the laminate floor can be dismantled, transported and re-laid in another apartment. Without problems, it will be possible to replace any damaged panel. There are negative aspects: the sensitivity of butt joints to moisture. Water-absorbing elements increase in volume, then, drying up, form cracks. With repeated changes in the geometric parameters of the slats, the floor will gradually lose its aesthetic appeal, and its technical characteristics will decrease. To prevent this, suppliers of laminate flooring offer the use of mastics and water-repellent adhesives during installation.
Labeling – Customer Information
Wear resistance, strength and quality characteristics are criteria that are justifiably interesting for those who want to buy the best flooring. It was not possible to compare them until a certain point, and without comparison or personal practice of use, it is difficult to find the best option. In order to facilitate the selection process, in 1999 the European Association, which brought together laminate manufacturers, developed and adopted a unified material evaluation system. After its adoption, each product undergoes 18 test tests, the results of which are recorded in certificates and applied to the packaging of goods received in stores. The badges and markings will tell customers how to choose the right laminate for use under specified conditions..
The strength of the flooring is evaluated according to the results of the Tabertest. Its essence lies in the study of wear resistance carried out using a grinding wheel. The front surface of the laminate is pressed tightly against the abrasive tool and the number of turns made by the grinding machine is counted until the protective and decorative layer is completely abraded. The technical documentation indicates the number of revolutions (numbers vary between 6000-20000). This definition has one caveat. The initial stage of abrasion IP is fixed, indicating the appearance of the first signs of abrasion, and the final phase FP, confirming 95% wear. According to these indications, the arithmetic mean of AT is calculated. But in the price lists these numbers are printed without an abbreviation, which makes it possible for an unscrupulous supplier to adjust the data.
Similar in complexity tests are carried out to determine water resistance, resistance to loads, UV rays, scratches, burning, and other harmful effects. According to the results of a full cycle of product tests, a digital designation is assigned, indicating the class of use.
- 21 – floors for the arrangement of residential premises with a not too intense load, such as a bedroom;
- 22 – more durable material for styling in nurseries;
- 23 – laminate for flooring in kitchens, hallways, in rooms with an active load;
- 31 – floor for offices not intended for receiving visitors, for offices, meeting rooms;
- 32 – commercial floor with increased strength, mounted in intensively visited offices;
- 33 – laminate for shops, commercial centers, cafes.
Together with information on the manufacturer’s warranty, digital signs will help to get an idea of the strength of the floor. Again, there is a reservation: only floors of a commercial category can easily tolerate frequent wet cleaning. Therefore, it is recommended to prefer a class 31 laminate for decoration of a residential interior, if desired, significantly extend the service periods of 32 and 33. The cost of upscale floors will be slightly higher, but the life of a laminate designed for intensive visitor flow, when used in living rooms, will increase by almost five times.
In addition to digital marking, supplemented by a graphic image, on the packaging of the laminate floor, you can find special badges that inform customers about the special properties of the material. They will help to learn in more detail what kind of laminate is and what material has been proposed, since they transmit information about antistatic qualities, about optimizing resistance to various influences, about the possibility of arranging floors with a heating system, about the need to use rubber devices for furniture legs.
Firms producing the best laminate flooring
One of the characteristic features of the products of a responsible manufacturer is a 20-year or longer warranty period. Manufacturers who are constantly working on product development now even issue a lifetime warranty. Do not trust dubious brands evasively indicating technical data. They usually do not give specific warranties. In addition to the fact that their product clearly did not pass a strict test, there is no certainty that in a couple of years the laminate will turn into an absolutely unsuitable coating.
The undisputed leader in the market are product offers from companies with excellent reputation and extensive manufacturing experience. Their products usually include laminate flooring collections for various types of premises. Among the proposals you can find material of any color, combined with interiors of any stylistic direction. Those wishing to find out which laminate company is better are often advised to pay attention to products from reliable companies, such as the international association Tarkett, the Swedish manufacturer Pergo, the Norwegian company Alloc.
Combining 28 manufacturing enterprises, Tarkett sells products in 100 countries of the New and Old World. Products from the East European manufacturer are appreciated by designers, engineers, stackers and users. The characteristic features of laminated flooring with the famous brand name are the presentability of the decor, the reliability of the HDF base, the presence of moisture-resistant impregnation, a special type of powerful lock joint with an angle of 30 degrees.
Combining superior design with durability and ease of installation, Pergo products are designed to deliver superior performance and performance. This is one of the most resistant to shock loads, abrasion and the action of abrasives laminate flooring, which has a built-in soundproofing substrate and durable locking devices. Unique locking joint prevents gaps in the flooring at unstable temperature and moisture levels.
Laminate flooring with the Alloc brand name – products for which the manufacturer has a lifetime warranty. A distinctive feature of the laminate from the Norwegian company is a flawless aluminum castle system, due to which the strength parameters of the floor as a whole increase significantly. Alumina is also part of the upper protective and decorative layer, which in turn increases wear resistance. According to expert studies, the Norwegian flooring holds a load of 1200 kg / m, works without problems in extremely difficult conditions.
Among the manufacturers of reliable and respectable products, the leading positions are also held by the Czech company Magnum, Austrian-based producer Jurgi, German companies HDM and Classen. Many manufacturers open subsidiaries in Russia that manufacture products using Western technologies on foreign equipment.
Practical laminate economy class
If you are interested in questions about how to choose a laminate for the home, while not spending extra money, consumers should pay attention to the goods produced at Russian subsidiaries. With full compliance of quality indicators with European products, laminate made in Russia is not burdened by incredible customs payments. Transportation costs are not superimposed on the price offered to customers. Because compatriots are increasingly attracted to Russian products with Austrian and Swiss roots “Kronostar” and “Kronospan”.
A worthy player in the market is the laminate flooring produced by the Chinese companies KexinFloor, Belle, EkoFloor and others. Chinese policy is designed to sell heavy-duty commercial types of laminate at relatively low prices. In terms of price, there are practically no rivals, and technologically, Chinese products are rapidly moving up the rating ladder. In the economy category segment, mainly the Chinese offer laminated material with a board thickness of 10-12 cm and products of commercial classification.
Information about the manufacturers of the best laminate on the quality characteristics of products, its operational features will help to find and acquire reliable material for flooring. Armed with knowledge and having studied the information on the labeling, the buyer will insure himself against errors. A good floor will last a long time, will not disappoint with the loss of quality and decorative charms for many years.