Carpet - Wood - Vinyl - Tiile
New Trends in Flooring
When many homeowners look for a way to improve their home's appearance, they think of flooring. This is one of the most common home-improvement projects, and with good reason. A new floor can literally change the feel of a room, taking it from outdated and boring to sleek and modern.
Laminate flooring is one of the most popular options in putting down a new floor. Its' a wonderful option for homeowners who may not have the time or money to invest in hardwood flooring. Laminate is more durable than carpeting, and can offer the same beauty that hardwood flooring brings to a home.
If you're not into the hardwood look, laminate is an even better option for you. Today's laminates are available in many different patterns. While the hardwood selections are impressive, there are many patterns in brick or stone which are barely discernible from the real thing, at a much more reasonable price.
Different Laminate Patterns
Due to the expense of traditional, authentic hardwood floors, laminate flooring which mimics the look of hardwood is very popular. These floors can't be differentiated from real hardwood with a casual glance, and they are extremely durable if installed and maintained properly.
No matter what kind of wood you are looking for, it has a laminate copycat. From the traditional look of oak to the exotic African hardwoods which are becoming more popular, if you can find it in authentic hardwood, you can find it in laminate flooring.
Laminates are not limited to hardwood
Stone flooring is one of the most beautiful options available today, but unfortunately it's also one of the most expensive. Thankfully, laminate flooring companies have a wide variety of stone-look laminates. These laminates differ in texture from the real thing, obviously, but they make up for this with their exquisitely lifelike appearance.
Brick is another option that's becoming increasingly popular. Especially in kitchens and entryways, brick offers a very rustic, welcoming look. In a restored farmhouse or any traditional home, this look is very attractive, and many homeowners are turning to laminate to achieve it. Not only is laminate a less expensive choice, but it offers relief from the relatively rough and uncomfortable texture of an authentic brick floor.
No, we're not talking about color — going green has never been more popular, and laminate flooring manufacturers have recognized this. In the past, laminates got a bad reputation. They have traditionally been created with materials that have been recognized as health hazards. Melamine resin is the most common culprit, as this resin is produced with formaldehyde. There is speculation that after a laminate floor containing melamine resin is installed, it can begin to seep formaldehyde into the air. This poses a health risk.
However, newer technologies have done away with most flooring containing, or processed with, formaldehyde. Ask your contractor, or a knowledgeable salesperson, about the healthiest options available to you. Options are changing all the time, and some may differ by location, but no matter where you live, you'll find a laminate flooring option which is healthy and beautiful.
Another reason for choosing to go green with laminates is sustainability. While some authentic woods are sustainable, many traditional hardwoods take decades to mature. Laminates eliminate the need to cut down a single tree, while still giving you the look of traditional hardwood beauty.
Installation and Maintenance
Laminate is unique in the flooring world. While it can be installed by homeowners with only a short tutorial and the instructions which come with the flooring pieces, it can also benefit greatly from the experience of a professional.
Your decision to do-it-yourself or hire a professional should be based on an honest evaluation of your own skills. Watch some tutorials online, and talk to contractors with experience putting in laminate floors. If you feel that you can do a good job, go for it! However, if you feel that a better job would be done by a professional, then hire one. There's no reason to sacrifice the quality of your floor to save a few bucks, since a poorly installed floor can cost much more than you'll save.
If laminate is not properly installed, its benefits can quickly turn into liabilities. Laminate is renowned for being an excellent choice for bathrooms and other areas which deal with a lot of moisture and frequent cleaning. It is moisture resistant and can stand up to cleaning much better than many hardwoods and other flooring options.However, water and cleaning fluids can seep in through gaps between parquets or flooring pieces if they are not installed properly. Water also seeps into the flooring at the edges if too-wet mops are used. A small gap must be left along the edges when installing laminate, in order to prevent warping and to allow the flooring to contract and expand according to air conditions. This gap is an essential part of installation, but it also leaves the floor susceptible to water damage. An experienced professional with knowledge of laminate flooring can discuss different options with you that can minimize the risks posed by this gap.
Your Final Decision
The decision to choose laminate should be based on your individual needs. While laminate is very durable and can easily last for twenty years if maintained and installed properly, hardwood can literally last a lifetime. However, authentic hardwood is much more expensive than even the very best laminate. There are disadvantages and advantages to every type of flooring, and it simply comes down to what fits into your lifestyle and budget.
The same decision needs to be made when it comes to doing the installation yourself or hiring a professional. Follow your intuition, after an honest inventory of your skills and needs. Don't try to do a job which you know that you can't do properly, but don't feel that you must hire a professional if your skills can be applied to installing your own floor. Always keep in mind, however, that a professional will have the most up-to-date knowledge of materials and new techniques.
Courtesy of TrustedPros.com