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Why choose laminate flooring?

Want a cheap, easy to clean floor that looks like real wood or stone? Then try using laminate.

Why choose laminate flooring?

"Laminate flooring is a good alternative to wood because it's cheaper and still results in a nice finish," says Matt Sweda, from The Better Wood Company in Bristol. Laminate is typically made up of a heat-resistant layer of melamine, a layer of fibreboard to provide strength, an outer layer which provides design (a wood grain or stone effect) and a transparent, top skin which provides protection.

Although all laminate should be scratch, stain and water resistant to an extent, for best results, choose the thickest and best quality laminate that you can afford. "Laminate flooring can last five years or more if it is good quality and well maintained," says Matt. Brands like Pergo are a good, hard-wearing option and also come in antimicrobial or stain and fade-resistant finishes.

As far as design goes, there is a good range of laminates to choose from. Look at different shades and finishes as well as plank width or tile size. One of the biggest advantages of laminate flooring is that it is easy to clean and install, usually coming in a snap together design.

Laminate flooring for the home

Laminate flooring is ideal for use in ground floor rooms and hallways. It can be noisy if installed in upstairs rooms or in a flat; however, a soundproofing underlay can reduce noise considerably. It is not advisable to use laminate in bathrooms, kitchens or dining rooms but if you want to, make sure that you buy special laminate equipped to cope with water exposure.

Maintaining laminate flooring

Laminate flooring is scratch, water and stain-resistant to an extent but it can still be damaged. "Dirt and grit from outside can really dent or scratch the floor," says Laurence Warburton, from Wood Works Flooring in Kent. Making sure there is a welcome mat outside the front door and sweeping or hoovering with a hard-floor attachment everyday can prevent this. Try not to drag furniture across the room without protective felt or covering on the bottom.

Excessive moisture will damage most laminates, unless they are specifically designed for use in wet areas. "You should be careful to damp mop wood or laminate flooring only, because lots of water can cause swelling," explains Laurence. So rather than soak the floor, use an almost dry mop or spray cleaning fluid directly onto the head when cleaning. Special laminate flooring cleaner can be used.

How much does laminate flooring cost?

Laminate is a cheaper flooring option than real wood or stone and prices could start from around £10 per square meter. However, you should consult a laminate flooring professional for an exact quote.

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