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Laminate Basics

Forget what you think you know about laminate flooring. Since it was invented in 1977, laminate has really evolved. First, some very smart people figured out ways to snap the planks together, so, no more gluing it down. And no more requirement to remove the old flooring layer (unless it is carpet). Finally, the durability of laminate has steadily and dramatically improved.

The net result? Laminate is a great choice for lots of hard-surface flooring projects. Laminate flooring:
• Looks like any type of hard-surface flooring variety you wish – stone, tile, wood.
• Is easy to install: easy prep, simple tools, quick clean up.
• Looks great, and is easy to keep looking great.
• Has great stain and fade resistance.
• Has great dent and scratch resistance
• Is very affordable.

All of our major supplier partners offer laminate flooring – Shaw, Mohawk, Mannington, Bruce, Armstrong, and Portico. Competition is good for stimulating product development and for keeping prices in check.

Laminate Construction
Laminate is made from layers of fiberboard and resins, laminated together. The top surface is a clear protective finish. Between the top layer and the backing is the photographic image that determines whether the flooring looks like oak, maple, cherry, or whatever image is applied.

Between the laminate flooring and your subfloor, you’ll have a layer of padding. There are some brands of laminate that glue the pad layer directly to each board. In either case, the padding is important for cushioning the flooring, and helping ensure that the flooring is quiet under foot.

Laminate flooring doesn’t glue, nail nor staple to the sub-floor…it floats. A floating floor installs with a small gap around the edges (concealed by trim), which allow the floor to expand when humidity gets high. Without that small expansion allowance, laminate planks would swell and buckle at the joints.

Unique to Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring calls for careful attention to molding. Moldings cover the perimeter gap that is allowed for the flooring to expand, and they help make the transition to adjacent floors. Most manufacturers offer matching moldings for all styles and colors of laminate flooring. Laminate moldings typically sit slightly higher than the laminate flooring itself. Below are standard moldings descriptions:

• Step Down Stair Nose – a coordinating piece providing the proper transition for all the steps in your home.
• Reducer Strip is the transitional piece installers may use to connect the laminate with another type of floor covering such as vinyl, thin ceramic tile, or low-pile carpeting.
• End Molding or Carpet Reducer is used as a transition from laminate floors to different flooring surfaces when the reducer does not allow enough height, such as on high-pile carpet or thick ceramic tile.
• T-Molding is commonly used in doorways to join two laminate floors in adjoining rooms. These are recommended when making transitions from a laminate floor to another floor that is approximately the same height.
• Quarter Round may be installed wherever the laminate floor meets the wall or baseboard. We recommend that you work closely with us to become familiar with the moldings and transition pieces that will be used in your home.

Finally, when installing laminate flooring atop an existing floor, the final height of the new flooring may require you to make adjustments in doors, so they open and close properly.

We’ll say it again: your Macco’s Floor Covering Center associate’s main concern is that you are thoroughly pleased with your new floor. That means ensuring that you’ve considered all related costs for your project. Here’s a list of potential additional expenses you may incur:
• Furniture removal/replacement.
• Demolition/disposal of old floor covering. Depending on the existing floor covering, this can be an expensive item; also, be sure to include the cost to dispose of the old floor covering.
• Subfloor preparation. Depending on the condition of the subfloor, it may require additional work.
• Product delivery.
• Laminate installation. Determine the cost per square foot to install, including materials required to complete the installation. Your new laminate floor may require additional materials to install it properly.
• Be sure to also consult the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on how frequently the floor should be cleaned and the cost to clean it.

Laminate Installation
Installing laminate is a job for professionals, or for the advanced DIYer. It requires special tools, advanced skills and expertise. We recommend that you have Macco’s Floor Cover Center installers do this work for you. But, there are some things you should consider about installation regardless of who installs it. Find out more in our Laminate Installation section.

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