Updated July 30, 2021

Do you want the aesthetics of hardwood flooring but you simply can’t afford it? The solution to your problem is laminate flooring. This type of flooring gives you the look and feel of hardwood floors but without the high cost.

But before you decide on laminate flooring for your home, you must consider a few aspects first. Even though there are many benefits that laminate boards can offer, there are also some drawbacks.

To help you with your decision we’ll be giving you a complete guide on the best laminate flooring brands with pros, cons, and installation tips. Keep reading if you’d like to know more about this affordable alternative to hardwood flooring.

While laminate flooring has built a bit of a bad reputation over the years, it’s making a comeback. Gone are the garish patterns of the past. Today’s laminate flooring options are trendy, durable, and affordable.

So without further ado, let’So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at this popular, resilient flooring.

Laminate Flooring Pros

1.  Laminate Flooring Is Stylish

Laminate flooring is making a comeback. Recent technology has enabled manufacturers to design laminate planks that replicate wood and natural stone. The latest styles feel like the real deal, too.

Laminate Flooring Pros

Designers are using high-definition printing and embossing techniques to mimic the patterns and ridges found in hand-scraped hardwood and burnished brick. They’ve even found a way to whitewash planks, giving the illusion of a weathered appearance. You can also buy laminate flooring that replicates the look of honed or polished stone.

The latest trend — cement-look laminate planks

2. Laminate Flooring Is Affordable

Laminate floors range in price from $1 to $11 per square foot. There’s a massive difference in quality between the two extremes. You have to be diligent when shopping around.

Your best bet is to stick with mid-range products. These lines offer high-end features without the pain of sticker shock. You can find a wide variety of quality laminate in the $3-$4 per square foot price range.

The lesson here: research and shop around.

3. Laminate Floors Are Durable

If you have kids or pets, laminate flooring could be the solution for your home. It holds its own against liquid assaults (though not quite as well compared to vinyl plank) and stands up to muddy pawprints.

You won’t have to follow your toddler around with a mop, but you will need to wipe up spills before they dry. While laminate is durable, excess liquid can cause problems.

There’s a big difference between stain-resistant and stain-proof products. See the ‘Cons’ section below for more on this. Nothing ruins a whitewashed floor quicker than grape juice.

4. Laminate Floors Are Versatile

The best laminate flooring will warm up your living space and make bedrooms feel cozy and inviting. You can install laminate anywhere in your home. Well, almost anywhere.

Additionally, You can use laminate flooring in kitchens and bathrooms; however, it’s not the best choice for these areas. Laminate and humidity don’t play well together. There are water-resistant options, and even waterproof laminate options available, but they will cost you.

If you do choose laminate for a kitchen or bathroom, do your homework— make sure it’s designed to withstand splashes and moisture.

5. Laminate Flooring is Hypoallergenic

Seasonal allergy sufferers take heart: laminate won’t make you sneeze. It doesn’t hold dust and dirt like carpet does. Laminate is also resistant to bacteria and mold.

A word of caution though, the adhesive and chemicals used in laminate can trigger allergic reactions. If you or someone in your home suffers from asthma or another severe respiratory condition, this flooring may not be the right choice.

When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Be sure to ask questions about the laminate composition upfront to avoid potential issues down the road.

6. Laminate Flooring Provides Comfort Underfoot

Laminate isn’t as soft as carpet, but it’s a close second, especially when paired with a padded underlayment. Unlike tile and concrete, it holds heat and gives way as you walk.

That being said, laminate flooring is comfortable underfoot. Whether you’re sitting cross-legged on the floor or standing at the sink, you won’t walk away with sore feet or an aching back.

7. Laminate Floors Are Easy To Install

If you enjoy a do-it-yourself project, laminate flooring is for you. It goes down in a matter of hours and takes little effort to install. You can float laminate over your existing floor – with the exception of carpet – as long as your subfloor is in good condition.

Remember to let the flooring acclimate a few days before installation; otherwise, you’ll risk warping due to fluctuations in humidity.

Alternatively, you can choose to glue the laminate directly to the sub-floor.

8. Laminate Floors Are Easy To Maintain

Laminate requires little maintenance. Unlike wood, you don’t need to wax or buff laminate. In fact, doing so causes more harm than good.

The only tools you’ll need are a vacuum or dust broom, and a laminate-friendly microfiber mop.

So, now that we’ve accentuated the positive – let’s delve into the negative. It’s time to reveal the downside of laminate flooring.

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Laminate Flooring Cons

1. Some Laminate Flooring May Contain Toxins

Laminate flooring can cause problems for those with sensitive immune systems. That’s because many laminate manufacturers use chemicals containing volatile organic compounds, commonly referred to as VOCs. These toxins release fumes into the air that can aggravate existing health conditions or even cause new symptoms to appear.

Laminate Flooring Cons

The Environmental Protection Agency has written numerous policies to limit the use of these chemicals, and scientists are developing ways to reduce the risks. However, regulation and control are spotty at best.

Always look for laminate that has low or no VOCs, is FloorScore certified, and CARB2 compliant. These are non-negotiables. Substandard materials can be dangerous, and your health is worth more than saving a few dollars.

Use caution when purchasing store-brand laminate. Make sure the salesperson shows you the manufacturing paperwork.

2. Low-Quality Laminate Flooring Can Look Unnatural

While laminate flooring imitates the look of hardwood or stone, you can tell the difference. Pricier brands look and feel more realistic, but cheaper lines scream “fake.” Make sure you examine the boards up close, so are satisfied with the look of your floors.

If your heart’s set on hardwood but you’re installing laminate, stagger the boards and the patterns. This gives the flooring a natural appearance and helps ease the sting of settling for a lower-cost option.

3. Laminate Floors Can Be Hollow Sounding

Walking on laminate flooring is easy on your feet, but sometimes not on your ears. Underlayment will reduce the acoustics, but your laminate may sound hollow. If your house is ordinarily noisy, however, this may not bother you.

However, if you’re sensitive to noise, laminate can drive you insane. Of course, the easiest way to fix that would be to employ a no-shoe policy. Just be careful in socks, laminate can be slippery.

4. Laminate Flooring Has Zero Refinish Possibilities

As with all resilient floors, laminate can’t be refinished. Once it’s ruined, it must be replaced. If you’re planning on staying in your home for the next 30 years, laminate may not be the best choice.

Even with a longer warranty, chances are you’ll have to replace this flooring. Repair kits are available for minor damage and can extend the life of your laminate for a few years. But, all in all, it may be better to opt for hardwood in the long-term.

How Long Will Laminate Flooring Last?

You should expect your laminate floors to last between 15-25 years. Your flooring’s longevity largely depends on responsible, diligent care – as well as the manufacturer’s quality.

You may even see 30 years out of your laminate if you invest in a high-quality floor and treat it well. Or at the very least, you could expect your floors to land near the upper end of its lifespan.

5. Laminate Isn’t Biodegradable

Unlike wood, laminate flooring won’t break down after you remove it. Instead, it sits in a landfill forever. That’s because it contains chemicals that make it dangerous to incinerate.

While science has found ways to recycle some layers of laminate flooring, many products are a long way from achieving a green building seal of approval. There are exceptions, such as laminate made from recycled materials. When in doubt, check the product’s label.

A good indicator is the NALFA seal. Products must meet or exceed stringent guidelines to earn a thumbs-up from this independent authority. Another bonus, NALFA certified laminate contains zero VOCs.

6. Laminate Floors Won’t Increase Resale Value

Installing laminate flooring will have little to no effect on the resale value of your home. If you’re not planning on selling, this won’t be an issue.

But if you have dreams of packing up and moving, laminate won’t help your cause. Laminate has come a long way. But buyers are finicky, and laminate may still carry an undesirable label.

7. Low-Quality Laminate Floors Are Susceptible To Staining

Despite the fact that laminate is easy to clean, low quality floors canstain easily. If you’re naturally clumsy or live with someone who is, consider other options. And if you have pets — laminate can add to your stress level (we’ve taken a look at some pet-friendly laminate flooring options here).

If liquid lingers on your laminate, the results won’t be pretty. Combat the problem by wiping up stains as soon as you notice them, and always put mats under your pet’s food and water bowls.

8. Laminate Floors Are Susceptible To Moisture Damage

Stains aren’t the only stressors. Moisture and humidity can cause new floors to look old and worn. The liquid can seep beneath the seams and cause lifting.

Humidity and moisture are laminate’s natural enemy. That’s why you’ll need to monitor levels in damp areas. You can do this with a simple $20-$30 meter, or invest in a dehumidifier for added assurance.

Note: Read more about Laminate’s Pros & Cons here.

Now that we’ve got potential pitfalls out of the way, let’s talk about something more pleasant: shopping! Before you roll your eyes, we promise this is the fun part. We’re going to explain how you can find high-quality laminate within your budget.

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How To Find Quality Laminate Flooring

Check Laminate Flooring AC Rating

The first way to look for high-quality laminate is to check the flooring’s AC rating. This rating system is used widely in the flooring world and was developed by the European Producers of Laminate Flooring. The higher the AC rating, the more durable than laminate.

How To Find Quality Laminate Flooring

For residential use, look for laminate with a rating of AC2 of higher. If you expect heavy foot traffic, opt for AC3 or AC4. These floors are rated for heavy residential and general commercial use. Be aware that the price goes up as the floor rating gets higher.

Look At The Thickness Of The Laminate Floorboards

Another way to detect a floor’s quality is to check the thickness. As with any type of flooring, you’ll want to consider your transitions. Height differences can cause tripping hazards, but thicker material has better insulation.

At the top of the spectrum, 12mm laminate looks and feels realistic. It offers superior durability and optimal comfort. Unfortunately, it costs quite a bit more than thinner options.

The next option down is 8mm. You can find 10mm flooring, but it’s not that common. Most brands carry planks that are either 8mm or 12mm.

Since the wear layer isn’t affected by overall plank thickness, it’s a matter of preference. If sound or heat retention isn’t an issue, don’t get hung up on the  numbers.

Remember you can beef up the thickness with a 2-3mm underlayer. You can find beautiful 8mm laminate for a fraction of the price of thicker options. Don’t bust your budget if you don’t have to.

Check The Manufacturer Ratings For Your Laminate Flooring

My last piece of advice is to check manufacturer ratings on the North American Laminate Flooring Association’s website. NALFA is a group of flooring professionals and manufacturers dedicated to improving the quality and safety of laminate flooring.

This group researches and establishes the performance and quality of laminate planks, tiles, and sheets. You can find out more by visiting the NAFLA website or the Floor Covering Leadership Counsel’s website. Besides manufacturer ratings, NALFA also keeps a database of trusted installers.

You should also consider reading laminate flooring reviews on various brands to find the best product for your home. 

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Laminate 101

Though not required, knowing the manufacturing process sets you apart as a knowledgeable buyer. It strengthens your bargaining power and sets the tone for a better shopping experience. It’s also interesting. So, let’s take an in-depth look at the manufacturing of laminate floors.

Starting from the top, let’s peel back the layers, and uncover what’s really underneath your feet.

Laminate flooring consists of 5 distinct layers. Alone, the layers perform separate functions. But when fused together through pressure and intense heat, they form what we know to be laminate flooring.

First Layer 

The first level is the top layer, or protective layer. This clearcoat either adds sheen or gives the laminate a matte appearance. It’s made of aluminum oxide or another strengthening compound coating that’s hardened and tested for scratch resistance and durability.

Second Layer 

Next up is the pattern layer. As you’ve probably guessed, this is the layer we see: the coloring, the print, and the texture. Curiously enough, the process starts with a photograph.

That’s right– the manufacturer uses large, segmented pictures and high-definition ink to replicate the shades and graining found in natural materials. Then the finished paper is infused with resin and adhered to the core.

Third Layer 

The core or substrate layer lies in the middle. Depending on the manufacturer, the base consists of either high-density or medium-density fiberboard, commonly referred to as HDF or MDF.

MDF is made from wood waste fibers combined with wax and resin, heated and pressurized to form panels. It’s denser than plywood but not as strong as HDF. High-density fiberboards are processed like MDF but constructed from wood chips or pulp.

Both materials aid rigidity and resist humidity.

Fourth Layer 

Melamine or plastic make up the backing or bottom. This strengthening layer plays a crucial role: keeping your floor stable. 

Fifth Layer 

The bottom layer adds another level of moisture resistance and strength. It displaces the stress from floor traffic and repels dampness,reducing the risk of warping, swelling or bowing.

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Pricing Guide

There are a number of factors that can have a notable impact on the overall price of your laminate flooring project. Here are two particular factors:

1. The Type & Quality Of Laminate

You can find bargain brand laminate flooring for close to $1-$2 per square foot. But cheap floors may not last long; maybe two to five years, if you’re lucky.

If you’re installing laminate in a rental home and expect to replace the flooring eventually, this may be a good option for you. But be responsible, make sure the laminate comes from a reputable company. Otherwise, you might inadvertently risk the health and safety of your tenants.

The next step up is where quality meets budget-friendly. At $2.50-$5 per square foot, mid-priced laminate is a sure bet. It’s durable, stylish and usually comes with an attractive warranty. Mid-range flooring should last at least 15 years.

High-priced laminate appeals to discerning buyers who aren’t overly concerned with costs. These floors are the most realistic looking, but at $6 or higher for a square foot, you might fare a better return with authentic hardwood. Laminate floors at this level are often warrantied to last 20 years or more.

When you’re calculating your total cost for laminate floors, do yourself a favor: remember to include the price of subfloor preparation, demolition, tools, and supplies. You’d be surprised how much padding, molding, and waste material can add to your final bill.

2. The Size Of Your Project

Generally speaking, the more material you have, the cheaper the installation process will be on a per-square-foot basis.

Also, certain scenarios (large rooms, for example) often require less cutting and trimming. Contractors have been known to give discounts or raise prices based on job ease or complexity.

Expect to pay about $20-$25 per hour, at a minimum, for a reliable contractor. The cost of labor will likely add $2 – $3 to the overall cost of the material, for every square foot.

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Evaluating The Warranty On Laminate Flooring

Companies love to promote their warranties as a way of convincing buyers of a product’s quality. While a written guarantee offers some assurance, these documents are often filled with fine print and confusing escape clauses. Be careful; warranties can seem like they’re written for your protection, but that’s usually not the case.

Once you pull out the magnifying glass and look a little closer, things get a whole lot clearer. Those limited lifetime warranties are often gimmicks. Most of the time they don’t include damage caused by pets, stains, dampness or things like… life. If they do cover wear, it’s usually restricted to five years or less.

Another common trick is to blame problems with flooring on improper installation and maintenance. The moral of the story is to be confident about the product you’re buying before money exchanges hands. Go online and check consumer complaint forums (as well as reviews posted by FloorCritics commenters).

Keep in mind that people tend to write reviews when they’re angry. A few bad reviews are common. But a hundred? That’s a red flag.

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Best Laminate Flooring Brands 

Armstrong Premium Lustre

Armstrong laminate flooring has received mixed consumer reviews. While the company has been around for ages, customer service tends to be scattershot in quality. The Premium Lustre series is Armstrong’s high-end laminate line.

These Armstrong planks are 12mmthick and 5” wide. All four style options mimic the look of hardwood floors. You can expect to pay between $4-$5 per square foot.

Where To Purchase Armstrong Premium Lustre

Luckily, Armstrong Premium Lustre is one of the best laminate flooring brands on the market.  So you can find the company’s laminate floorboards at Lowes, Amazon, and directly from their website. Simply purchase the laminate designs that are available online and have them shipped to you.

  • Holds up well under heavy traffic
  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Tends to start squeaking after a while
  • Not water resistant
How To Clean Armstrong Premium Lustre

Simply use a damp microfiber mop to clean your Armstrong Premium Lustre floors. Use a soft dust mop to remove debris from your floors without scratching the surface.

Summary Of Warranty

Armstrong Premium Lustre comes with a lifetime warranty.

Mohawk Chalet Vista

Mohawk has several lines of laminate flooring, from neutral, classic finishes to more trendy high-gloss and distressed top layer options. The Chalet Vista series is considered a mid-range line. Planks are 8mm thick and 7” wide.

Reviews for Chalet Vista are favorable, with most complaints focusing on installation issues. It seems that consumers have experienced multiple problems with the locking mechanism.

This Mohawk series averages $2-$3 per square foot.

Where To Purchase Mohawk Chalet Vista

Mohawk has its own website so you can purchase your Chalet Vista directly from the brand. You can also purchase Mohawk Chalet Vista from Lumber Liquidators as well as Desert Cart. Order your laminate flooring online and have it shipped to your door.

  • Highly durable
  • Realistic wood-grain finish
  • Easy to install
  • Expensive
  • May contain toxins
How To Clean Mohawk Chalet Vista

The Mohawk Chalet Vista laminate boards are durable so you can steam clean them or you can use a soft microfiber cloth to clean away dirt. If you’re using a detergent, make sure it’s safe to use on laminate surfaces.

Summary Of Warranty

The Mohawk Chalet Vista comes with a lifetime limited warranty.

Shaw Matterhorn

Shaw Matterhorn laminate flooring is one of the brand’s newest lines. There aren’t many reviews available yet, but the collection looks promising.

Planks are a whopping 13mm thick, 8” wide and just over 6 feet in length. Matterhorn is available in three shades and averages around $4 per square foot.

Where To Purchase Shaw Matterhorn

You can purchase your laminated floorboards directly off the Shaw’s site. Other online retailers such as Home Depot and National Carpet and Flooring sell the Matterhorn collection too. You can purchase your Matterhorn flooring online or visit a Home Depot store to buy your boards.

  • Affordable
  • Excellent brand reputation
  • Can be installed on all levels of your home
  • You have to buy underlayment separately
  • Not as water resistant as other Shaw products
How To Clean Shaw Matterhorn

Cleaning Shaw Matterhorn flooring is effortless. Simply use a dust mop to sweep away debris and a damp microfiber mop to wipe away dirt and grime.

Summary Of Warranty

Shaw Matterhorn laminate flooring comes with a 30-year residential warranty and a five-year light commercial warranty.

IVC Balterio

The Balterio series is IVC flooring’s premium laminate line. The series features planks that are 8mm to 12mm thick. You can install Balterio as a floating floor using IVC’s click-to-lock system.

Color choices are limited to 12 shades that replicate various wood species including oak, cork, and teak. Consumer reviews are overwhelmingly positive for both the brand and this series. The best part: Balterio costs under $3 per square foot.

Where To Purchase IVC Balterio

You can purchase your IVC Balterio from Amazon or Houzz. Or you can visit the brand’s website to find a suitable retailer near you that sells IVC Balterio. Amazon and Houzz may have limited designs and sizes so selecting a retailer through the IVC Balterio website will allow for the broadest selection.

  • Affordable
  • Elegant finishes
  • Sustainable
  • Only get 5 planks per pack
  • Colors aren’t consistent in a pack
How To Clean IVC Balterio

IVC Balterio laminate flooring is easy to maintain. Simply use a dust mop to sweep away dust and debris and a damp mop to wipe away stubborn dirt. You can also use a laminate-friendly vacuum cleanerto eliminate dirt in corners.

Summary Of Warranty

8mm IVC Balterio laminate boards come with a 25-year residential warranty. The 12mm density comes with a 33-year lifetime warranty.

Mannington Restoration

Mannington’s Restoration series is one of their most diverse collections. Planks come in 58 shades and mixed lengths ranging from three to eight inches. Mannington laminate is made in the United States and carries multiple certifications.

The Restoration collection is water and stain resistant. In fact, Mannington guarantees that your floors won’t stain if spills are cleaned up within 72 hours. If you love the look of driftwood, take a peek at their Keystone Oak shade; it’s stunning.

Like most manufacturers, Mannington has mixed reviews. If you choose this series, you can expect to pay about $4 per square foot.

Where To Purchase Mannington Restoration

The Mannington brand website offers direct purchase of the Restoration series. Additionally, you can purchase Mannington’s Restoration laminate flooring from Wayfair. There are also vendors such as Flooring Liquidators and Best Laminate where you can buy your floorboards.

  • Withstands humid conditions
  • Stain resistant
  • High-quality finishes
  • Not suitable for pet owners
  • Chips near the edges
How To Clean Mannington Restoration

Take extra care when cleaning Mannington Restoration laminate flooring. Only use laminate-friendly detergents and refrain from using vacuums or hard-bristled brooms. Use a dust mop to sweep and a damp microfiber mop to wipe away stubborn dirt.

Summary Of Warranty

Mannington Restoration flooring boasts a 25-year warranty for residential use. For all other Mannington laminate series, you’ll get a 15 year warranty.

Tarkett Fresh Air

Tarkett’s Fresh Air laminate line is one the brand’s biggest sellers. It’s phthalate free and certified pet- and allergy-friendly. The Tarkett Fresh Air collection features 10 colors, 12mm thick planks, and a 25-year warranty.

This multi-length flooring installs with a T-lock system and features a realistic beveled-edge design. You can buy these Tarkett planks for roughly $3 per square foot.

Where To Purchase Tarkett Fresh Air

Tarkett Fresh Air is commonly available;  can buy this laminate through Amazon, Fast Floors, or Home Depot. You may have to factor in shipping costs, but be sure to check whether the online store ships for free within the continental in the US.

  •  Comes in unique artistic designs
  •  Easy to clean
  •  Highly durable
  • Slippery surface
  • Difficult to install
How To Clean Tarkett Fresh Air

Tarkett Fresh Air laminate flooring has a smooth finish, so the floorboards are easy to clean. Use a laminate-friendly detergent and a damp microfiber mop to wipe away dirt.

Summary Of Warranty

Tarkett Fresh Air laminate flooring has a 30-year warranty for residential use, so you’re guaranteed flooring that will last and hold up well under harsh conditions.

Pergo Outlast Plus

When you think laminate, Pergo is usually the first brand that comes to mind. Although consumers have a love/hate relationship with this brand, the Outlast Plus collection receives high marks in both durability and style.

This series carries a rThis series carries a rating of AC4, meaning it’s durable enough for commercial settings. The manufacturer also claims this line is fully waterproof, making it suitable for bathrooms, basements, and kitchens.

Pergo Outlast Plus is available at your favorite big orange improvement store and sells for $3 per square foot.

Where To Purchase Pergo Outlast Plus

Pergo has an online retail store that includes Outlast Plus and other ranges under the brand. Additionally, you can purchase these laminate floorboards from Home Flooring Pros and Home Depot.

  • Durable
  • Stylish
  • Has an AC4 rating
  • Not suitable for pet owners
  • Not scratch resistant
How To Clean Pergo Outlast Plus

Similar to most laminate flooring, Pergo Outlast Plus is effortless to maintain. Use a dry dust mop to sweep away dirt and then a damp microfiber cloth to wipe away stubborn dirt. You can use mild detergent to clean the floor, but make sure it’s laminate friendly.

Summary Of Warranty

Pergo Outlast Plus has a 6-month manufacturing warranty as well as a 10-year limited lifetime residential warranty.

Bruce Park Avenue

The Park Avenue collection from Bruce flooring is among the brand’s mid-priced lines. The series features six rich wood tones and 12mm thick boards. Park Avenue is suitable for both above- and below-ground installations.

Reviewers either love this flooring or hate it; as with many reviews, there doesn’t seem to be a middleground. It’s worth noting that Bruce’s customer service is mentioned in several reviews – and not in a good way.

Nevertheless, the Park Avenue collection sells for $3.50-$4 per square foot.

Where To Purchase Bruce Park Avenue

You can purchase Bruce Park Avenuefrom True Hardwoods, Houzz, and Ecomoso. Check to see whether these online retail stores offer free shipping before you order, to potentially save big on costs.

  • Realistic wooden finish
  • Indentations don’t trap dirt
  • Water resistant
  • Too glossy
  • Poor packaging
How To Clean Bruce Park Avenue

The Bruce Park Avenue laminate flooring can be challenging to keep clean. Since it has a glossy finish, it’s difficult to keep it that way. Wiping the floors down with a microfiber mop may help, but you might have to do so every day.

Summary Of Warranty

You’ll get a 50-year warranty with your Bruce Park Avenue laminate flooring from the day you make your purchase.

TrafficMaster Laminate

TrafficMaster laminate is made by Shaw Flooring. Despite its inexpensive price tag, this laminate gets excellent reviews. TrafficMaster is on the thinner side at around 7mm, but at $1-$2 per square foot, it’s not a bad choice for light-traffic areas or second homes.

There are several lines available to choose from, and the color and texture options are endless. You can find this laminate at most home improvement stores and online.

Where To Purchase TrafficMaster Laminate

TrafficMaster Laminate is another flooring product that’s popular. You can find this laminate flooring brand at Home Depot, Lumber Liquidators, Wayfair, and Home Flooring Pros.

  • Easy to maintain
  • Designed to last
  • Effortless to install
  • Some lines have limited style options
  • Non-recyclable
How To Clean TrafficMaster Laminate

Simply use a laminate-friendly vacuum cleaner or a soft-bristled broom to sweep away dirt. Then use a microfiber mop to polish your laminate floors.

Summary Of Warranty

TrafficMaster Laminate flooring is backed by a 25-year residential warranty.

Honorable Mention: Bellami, BerryAlloc, CalypsoDream Home Laminate, Eternity, Hampton Bay, Inhaus, Lamett, Laminate for Life, Nuvelle, Select Surfaces

Once you choose a brand and style of flooring, you’ll need to consider installation. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

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Importance Of Underlayment

Underlayment may or may not come attached to the bottom of your laminate. If it is not yet adhered, you’ll have to do so during installation. Flooring and home improvement stores sell rolls of underlayment specifically for laminate.

Prices vary, but expect to spend between $0.25 – $0.75 per square foot.

Underlayment serves multiple purposes.

  1. It acts as a barrier between the subfloor and the laminate, stopping moisture and mold from creeping to the surface and damaging your floors.
  2. It also masks and levels minor subfloor imperfections, correcting low spots or dips.
  3. Underlayment suppresses noise and prevents those annoying creaks and squeaks from revealing your late-night refrigerator raid.
  4. It adds a level of insulation that feels soft underfoot, and helps to retain room temperature.
  5. As a bonus, this multi-tasking layer also repels bacteria and dust mites.

Remember, if your flooring comes with this padding attached, do not add another layer. If you’re shopping for underlayment separately from the laminate, make sure it’s manufacturer approved and includes a moisture barrier — not all underlayments do.

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Whether you’re installing the laminate yourself or hiring a pro, the process should be painless. Unfortunately, problems do come up, but they’re rare and usually relatively easy to solve.

There are two ways to install a laminate floor: with glue or without. Glueless installation is the easiest route for a DIY installer. If your subfloor is adequate, you’ll breeze through the steps and finish on schedule.

After you lay the underlayment, click the boards together at the seams, working in rows. The process is similar to assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle, without the hassle of disassembling and re-boxing the pieces. You might even be able to trick your kids into helping.

When you’re finished, remember to check for gaps and loose boards. If you find any, use a rubber mallet and a spare piece of laminate to tap the offending board back into line.

The other option is to glue the planks. While floating floors might be easier to install, if you anticipate spills, consider the glued-plank route. The adhesive acts as a seal between the boards and keeps liquid from getting underneath.

Remember: glue is tricky to work with. You may want to hire a professional to tackle the job.

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Laminate Maintenance

We’ve all heard the claim: “Laminate is easy to maintain.”

Well, yes and no.

For daily cleaning, a microfiber broom or a vacuum for laminate flooring will do the job. But when your floors need a little more attention, things can get tricky.

Laminate falls into the gray area of cleaning. It’s not as fussy as wood or stone, but there are a few guidelines. If you use the wrong cleaner, you’ll cause yourself a lot of aggravation and risk ruining your floors in the process.

Murphy’s Oil may work on wood, but it leaves streaks on laminate. The same goes for pine scented cleaners; they leave a residue.

You can use vinegar on laminate floors, but only do so sparingly. Make sure you rinse it off; don’t allow the vinegar to sit. Over time, this acidic cleaner will strip your floors of their protective layer.

In a pinch, it’s safe to use an ammonia-based cleaner. But don’t make a habit of it. Like vinegar, ammonia can break down seals and coatings, leaving your floor dull and damaged.

Look for cleaner made for laminate floors, or go the natural route: warm water and gentle dish-washing liquid.

Can You Use A Wet Mop Or Steam Mop On Laminate?

Never use a steam mop on your laminate. The moisture and heat will cause buckling. As always, consult your manufacturer’s recommendations – but a good rule of thumb here is to steer clear of steam for laminate.

The same goes for a wet mop. While a little moisture won’t ruin your floors if it’s wiped up right away, traditional laminate isn’t meant to withstand the amount of water a wet mop leaves behind. If you have waterproof laminate, you may be able to use a wet mop with precaution. Again, be sure to check your manufacturer’s instructions and warnings.

Can You Use A Swiffer On Laminate Floors?

Yes, a Swiffer can be used on your laminate. Before you start, be sure to check your manufacturer’s guidelines for exceptions. If you’re all clear, we’d suggest first doing a dry sweep of your floors to remove debris before running your Swiffer.

Be conservative with your WetJet spray usage – a little spray goes a long way. Laminate is susceptible to liquid (not just water) seeping in between the planks and causing lumps/warping, so be sure that your sprays and sweeps leave as little moisture behind as possible.

General Tips

To keep your floors in top shape, wipe spills before they dry. Use mats under pet dishes and padding beneath your furniture. Keep your pet’s nails short and save the stilettos for the dance floor.

If your laminate suffers from gouges or rips, don’t lose sleep. Drive to your nearest home improvement store and pick up a laminate repair kit. These kits cost under $20 and work like magic.

The repair compound comes in an easy-to-use syringe and dries within minutes.

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Laminate Flooring Alternative – Engineered Hardwood 

If you’re having doubts about purchasing laminate, consider engineered hardwood. It’s a cross between solid hardwood and laminate. Sounds cool, right?

This hybrid flooring combines both wood veneer and laminate. Instead of a wear layer and image, manufacturers bind veneer to a laminate backing. The result: affordable flooring you can refinish.

Engineered hardwood usually costs between $3-$7 per square foot and comes in a large assortment of styles and patterns.

Before you get too excited, understand that you can only refinish these floors once or twice. But aside from this caveat, engineered flooring might be the perfect compromise.

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Laminate Styles And Colors

Depending on the laminate flooring brand you choose, you’ll have plenty of styles and colors to pick from. Go with distressed textures for a rustic look or a glossy finish for a more elegant aesthetic. Hand scraped textures look more realistic compared to other distressed finishes. 

The color of your laminate flooring will complement your interior decor, so it’s important to choose the right tones. Grey and lightwood laminate are popular choices for rooms with neutral backgrounds. High variations, which are two-toned laminate floorboards, are popular because they provide a stunning and unique contrast. These variations come in dark and light gray or brown tones. 

Other popular colors are: 

  • Refined Brass 
  • Canyon Oak 
  • Warm Sand 
  • Savannah Cherry

You can also change up the patterns of your laminate flooring with different sized boards. The boards come in a variety of lengths so you can create different patterns on your floor such as a chevron effect. 

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FAQs About Laminate Flooring

What is the best brand of laminate flooring?

The best brand of laminate flooring is Mohawk because this company has been in the industry for 100 years. As a result, the brand knows what its audience wants and needs. There are over 200 designs for you to pick from and the laminate floors have a realistic look and finish. It’s another waterproof laminate option for your home. 

What’s more, Mohawk laminate floorboards are easy to maintain and affordable. The boards have a Uniclic technology so you don’t need adhesive or tools to install them. The Mohawk brand continues to receive positive reviews on their laminate flooring from happy homeowners. This is because Mohawk’s laminate floorboards are durable, sturdy, and an excellent choice for high-traffic areas.

Read the best laminate flooring reviews for the brand you choose to see if the flooring will be worth your money. 

What is the most durable laminate flooring?

Pergo produces the most durable laminate flooring on the market. So if you want a product that’s guaranteed to last, then you can’t go wrong with this brand. The reason why Pergo is such a high-end brand is because its boards are coated with a hydroseal to prevent water damage.

How long do laminate floors last for?

The best laminate flooring products can last between 15 and 20 years, but this will depend on the quality of the product and how well you maintain your flooring. 

Can you mop laminate flooring?

Yes, you can mop your laminate floors, provided it’s with a microfiber mop and you do not use excessive moisture The mop you use must be soft so that it doesn’t scratch the surface of your floors. A damp mop will suffice when removing stubborn dirt from your laminate flooring. You can also use a detergent that is specifically designed for laminate flooring to prevent damage.

What laminate flooring colors and styles are trending? 

The laminate flooring colors that are trending are grey and light wooden tones. Styles that are trending include hand brushed and glossy finishes. 

Is it easy to install laminate flooring? 

Yes, laminate flooring is considered the easiest type of flooring to install. Some products come with uniclic technology to fit the boards into place easily. You can also choose a glue-down installation. The advantage of laminate floors is that you don’t need power tools or nails to install your boards, so it’s considered an affordable flooring option. 

Can you get laminate flooring cleaning products? 

Yes, there are plenty of laminate floor cleaning products on the market that won’t damage the integrity of your floors. Some popular products include Black Diamond Stoneworks Wood & Laminate Floor Cleaner and Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner. 

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Final Considerations

When shopping for the best laminate flooring on the market, the smartest thing you can do is weigh your options and find the ideal compromise between style and quality. Online ordering is convenient, but you may want to visually inspect the product before you decide to open your wallet. 

Photos aren’t a good indicator of coloring or quality. So even if you’re planning an online purchase, visit the stores first or order some samples from the manufacturer’s website.

Don’t forget to ask for paperwork certifying that the laminate you purchase meets safety and quality guidelines. If you have doubts about a brand, go online and read the reviews. Yes, they’re subjective, but they’ll usually contain common complaints.

Laminate flooring is a major purchase. Don’t settle; make sure you choose flooring that makes your home look and feel exactly the way you imagined.

About Fortino Rosas

Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest.