1. I see the term “floating floor” popping up when I read about laminate. Can you explain that in plain English?
Think about it like this: every type of floor covering sits on top of a sub-floor, (plywood, or a concrete slab, for example). Many types of flooring have to be affixed to the subfloor…glued down, stapled down, nailed down, and so on. Not laminate. The pieces of a laminate floor attach to one another. A layer of soft padding sits atop the sub-floor; the laminate sits atop the padding. The installer fills the floor with the laminate flooring, leaving a very small gap around the edges, which allows the laminate to swell/shrink as humidity changes without buckling or pulling apart. Edge molding covers that gap. Since the laminate isn’t glued, stapled, or nailed down to the subfloor, it is called a floating floor.
2. What can I do about a small area of damage on my laminate floor?
Here is good news for you: once you identify the manufacturer and style of your laminate, and order some replacement pieces, the damaged boards can be easily removed and replaced. Your question prompts a good reminder for people buying new floor covering: save any flooring material leftover from your installation, and keep it in the original packaging. With that, you’ll have spare pieces for repairs, and you’ll have a permanent indicator of exactly what bought, should you ever need to purchase more. You want to be sure to use an exact match (versus just a visual match) because every manufacturer has their own unique locking system. YouTube has videos showing various ways to replace laminate, and of course you can rely on Macco’s Floor Covering Center for expert help.
3. We had laminate in a home years ago and it made a funny sound when we walked on it. Have they fixed that problem?
Laminate manufacturers and installers have figured out how to reduce that “clicky” sound you heard on your old laminate floor. Laminate has come a long way in the 4 decades since it was first introduced.
4. How do we work out the edge where our new laminate floor meets our kitchen tile? We don’t want a raw edge of laminate there.
Great question. Since laminate can be installed atop existing flooring, the height of your new floor and your kitchen tile floor are likely to be different. Laminate flooring includes a number of specialty pieces, which resolves these challenges. In this particular case, you will need a piece of connector trim called a reducer strip.
5. Is laminate a good choice for bathrooms?
Laminate not the best choice for bathrooms, because it can be slippery when wet, and water can find its way down into the seams and edges, and from there, into the padding. Tile, luxury vinyl, or vinyl are better choices. This also applies to kitchens.
6. What do you do to keep a laminate floor from looking too fake…where you see the same photo image showing up again and again?
This problem can be minimized when installing, by setting out the planks or tiles prior to affixing them to one another. Doing this enables the installer to avoid making a pattern out of similar images. Another strategy is to choose a style that doesn’t have strong grain or contrast in the image layer…even tones across the planks or tiles. Also, remember where furniture and area rugs are likely to obscure the flooring, and choose planks or tiles accordingly.
7. Any words or caution about laminate in high traffic areas?
Yes, we’ll offer the same cautions we make for every other type of flooring: do everything you can to keep outside dirt out of the house. Use walk-off doormats to remove and capture dirt, and clean them out frequently. Consider runner rugs for high-traffic pathways. And while we’re at it, don’t neglect pads for furniture legs, and use of some form of temporary floor covering when moving heavy objects.
8. Is there any special way to clean laminate floors?
The key is to keep grit from scratching the finish, so sweep with a soft broom, or vacuum with the hard surface vacuum cleaning attachment (not the motorized brush or “beater bar”), and mop with a slightly damp sponge mop.