The world of flooring is more diverse than ever. House and apartment owners are spoiled for choice when buying a floor. Whether parquet, cork or carpet floor. Laminate is an extremely popular flooring because it not only looks good but is also very easy to care for. The selection in the retail trade is very large and the manufacturers vie for the favour of customers, but there are also significant differences in quality should be respected.
What Is Laminate?
Laminate is a floor covering consisting of several layers. It imitates high-quality wooden floors in terms of appearance. However, it is not real wood, but a decorative layer of plastic. This makes a laminate floor much cheaper than parquet.
Laminate consists of several layers:
- Top layer
- decor paper
- support layer
- backing sheet
What the individual layers consist of and how they are composed can be read at the end of the article.
Laminate Versus Parquet
Laminate is often designed to look like a real wood floor. But how does the laminate differ from the parquet? First of all: Both floors give your own four walls a special touch and give the rooms an inviting and warm character.
A parquet floor is made of solid pieces of wood, consisting either of one or more layers. They are made of wood and the first layer is always solid wood. Parquet is available in several types of wood.
An essential difference is that parquet in the living space is subject to wear and tear over time. In order to repair this damage, the wooden floor can simply be sanded and resealed. Laminate, on the other hand, cannot be sanded down.
Only a single panel can be replaced, depending on how long the laminate has been in the living area, but this is noticeable. In many cases, a complete exchange should then take place.
Differences In Laminate Quality
Laminate is not just laminate. There are considerable differences in the quality of the flooring. Some criteria by which quality can be measured are summarised below.
As already mentioned, the laminate panels consist of several layers. Usually, the three main layers are top layer, decorative paper and backing layer. High-quality laminate also has the underlay between the carrier board and the face material.
There is also laminate, such as vinyl laminate, which has a plastic sheet instead of wooden fibre.
Length And Width
Differences in quality can also be seen in the length and width. The standard for today's laminate is a length of 1,285 millimetres and a width of 192 to 194 millimetres. However, other sizes are also conceivable.
These, in turn, have advantages and disadvantages. Longer planks with 2,000 millimetres can manage with fewer joints. However, a certain skill in laying is required here. It is not recommended for untrained laymen.
The Resistance Of The Material
No matter what the price of the laminate. It is not immune to shocks, scratches and other damage. It depends on the thickness of the top layer how serious the damage is.
The layer may well prevent one or two scratches. The principle here is: the thicker the top layer, the more resistant the laminate is to scratches and impacts.
Differences in quality can also be seen in the sensitivity to water. It is well known that water causes the laminate floor to swell. But this is not the case with every type of laminate. If a proper sealing has taken place, there is little to fear.
By the way, this can also be done afterwards.
Similar to other floors, the quality of the laminate is reflected in the price. The more the panels cost, the higher the quality of the finish. In addition, a higher price guarantees greater resistance.
Current Trends In Laminate Flooring
The manufacturers have enhanced the laminate over the years. Accordingly, 2019 will see little change in flooring, as was evident at the Bau trade fair, among other events. Nevertheless, suppliers of laminate flooring are focusing on structured surfaces.
Stone and wood surfaces should look even more real. In addition, the focus is on authenticity. It should no longer be visually recognisable at first glance whether the floor is laminate or parquet.
Laying Laminate - It's As Simple As That
A great advantage of laminate over parquet is that it can be laid by yourself. The Click system eliminates the need for glue. This additionally accelerates the laying process.
For experienced do-it-yourselfers, installation is not a problem. The following tools are required:
- Hammer (rubber hammer is also possible)
- Folding rule or tape measure
- Laminate cutter or saw
- carpet knife
In addition to the tools, the following materials should be used for installation:
- balancing mass
- impact sound insulation
- skirting boards
The installation height must be taken into account when laying the laminate. There should still be room for manoeuvre under the open doors. In addition, the layer should only be so high that there is no step at the transition to the adjacent room or hallway.
Maintain Laminate Correctly
The basic rule is: laminate is easy to care for. Nevertheless, there are some tips for cleaning and care. The motto "less is more" applies to the care of laminate.
Small stains can be quickly removed without leaving streaks with water and a cloth. In contrast to parquet, waxes or oils should not be used for laminate care. This can cause a lubricating film and even scratches on the floor.
In addition, mats protect the laminate especially in the entrance area of houses and apartments.
Furniture such as chairs and tables can also be fitted with felt glides. This prevents scratches.
The Laminate Layers In Detail
The topmost laminate layer is the so-called "This", which is characterised by its robustness. In many cases, the layer consists of melamine resin. The synthetic resin makes the laminate water-resistant and thus washable.
The top layer of the laminate is particularly important because the floor has to endure a lot. It protects against cigarette burns, stiletto heels on shoes or liquids such as alcohol, juice or water.
The second layer of laminate flooring is decorative paper. This is the optically perceived surface. The décor paper can be printed in many different ways.
There is no restriction in the choice of motif. Examples of motifs are geometric shapes or artistic ornaments.
If the laminate is to be laid in the children's room, the decor paper can be printed with animal motifs.
The third layer of the laminate board is the carrier layer. The characteristic feature of this layer is that it holds the panels together. In addition, the carrier layer ensures that the laminate is dimensionally stable and pressure-resistant.
The laminate manufacturers use either an HDF board (high-density fibreboard) or a plywood board for the carrier layer.
A further feature of the carrier board is that it has a tongue and groove profile and is also equipped with a click system. This is now considered the standard for installation.
In addition to the carrier layer, a laminate board consists of the backing layer. This layer is made of paper or plastic and fulfils the function that the laminate does not deform under extreme load.
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