Laminate flooring is a composite flooring made of high density fiber board (HDF) topped with a photographic image of wood or other material and a hard, wear-resistant clear coating and backed with a moisture-resistant vapor barrier. It features photorealistic images of natural materials and realistic finishes to deliver the look and feel of hardwood floors in a durable, low-maintenance floor. Hardwood flooring is made of either solid wood planks or layers of wood bonded together.
Laminate floors resist scratching and dents better than hardwood floors and are less vulnerable to damage from water and dirt. They also cost less to buy and install and can be installed in basements and over cement, where many wood floors are unsuitable.
Laminate floor is water resistant on its surface, but it is vulnerable to water damage at the seams if it is soaked. For that reason, it is not recommended for use near bathtubs and showers or anyplace where a lot of water will be present. It may be used in powder rooms, kitchens and entryways where water is occasionally present to long as care is taken to promptly clean up spills.
Because of its scratch resistance and easy clean up, laminate is an excellent choice for households with children and pets. Its hard wear layer probably resists scratching from pets’ nails better than any other hard floor surface. In addition, it cleans up very easily with a damp cloth in case of spills and pet accidents. Liquids that are not promptly cleaned up can damage laminate floors, however.
Laminate is one of the easier floors to install. A do-it-yourselfer with moderate carpentry skills can install a laminate floor relatively quickly and easily. Laminate is also one of the best floors for hiding minor surface protections in the subfloor because of its rigidity. If existing subfloors are seriously damaged or uneven, the job will require more advanced skills.