Durability is something usually attributed only to superheroes and larger than life architectural wonders. I would soon learn that Shaw’s laminate flooring thinks it deserves a place among the greats, too.
With over 35 different laminate styles and hundreds of color choices, Shaw has mastered the art of giving customers the look they’ve been dreaming of.
Shaw says their products have two distinct advantages over their competitors. (1) Simple to install, and (2) are easy to maintain. Will Shaw’s laminate live up to the hype and be a good fit for the Hulk’s lab or the bottom of the Great Pyramid?
Let’s talk laminate:
Shaw Laminate’s Advantages
Shaw manufactures their flooring in the USA, which brings the company pride by helping out the national economy. In addition to that, Shaw says that their products are different in two special ways.
The locking technologies for some of their laminate products and a high gloss finish called OptiGuard are uniquely Shaw. You won’t be able to find these options when heading over to another laminate competitor.
1) Locking Technologies
Glue, they’re totally over you. You can install most Shaw laminate products by simply snapping your shiny new floor into place on top of your subflooring.
Through the locking systems (also made in the USA), Shaw says that their floors are moisture resistant and can be taken apart and put back together again if you decide to change something after installation.
Shaw has two different versions of their locking technologies, which are the VersaLock AG and LocNPlace. They both work in similar ways, making it easy for the installer to click them into place and finish the job without the normal stresses that comes along with installing a new flooring.
This high-gloss finish is, as promised, made in the USA like all of their other products. OptiGuard is placed over your installed laminate to dramatically bring out the natural wood look of your laminate and to keep it from scratching.
This sealant is pliable, so any scratches made will not be shown in the laminate itself. This makes this product the perfect finish for rooms that will be high-traffic.
Shaw’s website boasts that you can install your laminate flooring nearly anywhere in your home. From creating an accent wall, to installing it over radiant heat flooring.
Though the locking system described earlier made installation sound like a literal snap, the installation details on the website show there’s quite a bit more effort involved.
What to Expect
Shaw gives a detailed account of what the process of installing your flooring will look like.
You’ll first need to acclimate your flooring to the environment. Then, the beginning steps involve removing baseboards and other existing flooring. Shaw also warns your home will be out of commission for a while during installation.
This portion of the site accurately describes what the flooring installation process will realistically look like. I appreciate this frankness as a designer.
Educating clients that installation takes time and that your home will be out of commission for a while is something most companies stray away from. Shaw states up front.
Where to Install
Shaw describes the durability and versatility of their laminate on-site. Their statements bring to light new details on what their laminate can truly do.
Their site mentions UV protection, which will protect your floors from fading over time in the sunlight.
Water resistance is also mentioned here. However, be aware water resistant floors and water-proof floors are two very different things. They don’t make that distinction clear, so be weary.
Shaw mentions on-site that you can lay down your laminate directly on any flooring besides carpet.
In another portion, it says you may need to rip up your flooring before laying your laminate down.
In yet another section, Shaw says that you’ll need a barrier between your sub-flooring and laminate to protect your new floors.
As a designer, I would recommend that you contact a contractor to see exactly what you need to do before you install your new floors. Shaw’s website is not clear on exactly what you need to do before installing. So, in order to avoid any confusion and wasted materials, get professional advice.
This murkiness in instruction makes installation significantly more difficult than the snap and lock method described as a Shaw laminate advantage. When a promise as simple as that is made, there are bound to be caveats to make the process more confusing.
Caring for your Shaw Laminate
When reading about what not to do to your newly installed laminate floors, I was floored myself. Not to be dramatic, but it seems like anything short of tip toeing in socks across your floor can potentially ruin it.
Here are some direct quotes from Shaw’s “How to Clean Laminate Floors” guide:
“Keep your pets nails trimmed to prevent them from scratching your floor.”
“Do not wash or wet mop the floor with soap, water, oil-soap detergent or any other liquid cleaning product. This could cause swelling, warping, delamination, and joint-line separation, and void the warranty.”
“A humidifier is recommended to prevent excess shrinkage due to low humidity levels.”
“An air conditioner, dehumidifier, or periodically turning on your heating will help to maintain humidity during summer months.”
“Use floor protectors and wide-load bearing leg bases/rollers to minimize the chance of indentations and scratches from heavy objects. As a rule, the heavier the object, the wider the floor protector.”
Laminate floors do require special care, however, this list makes me a bit weary on how much durability this floor actually has. As a designer, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such an exhaustive and extensive set of rules on how to care for any type of flooring.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Shaw’s homepage should bold the“Caring for your Laminate” section, according to what reviewers online say.
Based on reviews here, here, and here, as a designer, I would not recommend Shaw’s cheaper laminate flooring option at all. People seem to be avoiding Shaw’s inexpensive laminate, offered at Costco and similar big box stores, like the plague.
If you do anything against Shaw’s policies, your floors will no longer be under warranty. If you install your floors improperly, your warranty will be good as gone, too.
Shaw does offer a higher end version of their laminate, which is sold on Wayfair and similar sites. This version is a bit more expensive, has a higher wear layer, and is the only way to go when ordering from Shaw.
I would recommend the higher end version of Shaw’s laminate flooring for areas of your home that will experience minimal wear, tear, and moisture. As far as kitchens and bathrooms are concerned, I believe a vinyl alternative would be better than Shaw’s laminate of any grade.
Have you purchased Shaw laminate before? Comment below saying what you bought and what you would like others to know about it.