Laminate Floors consist of the following layers:
The Wear Resistant Overlay
The Wear Resistant Overlay is the transparent sheet over the decorative layer that gives the floor it’s strength. This overlay is impregnated with melamine, almost the same substance that is used on your kitchen counter top, but more durable as a floor takes much more traffic than a table. This overlay is what makes the laminate floor resistant to abrasion, scratches, cigarette burns, chemicals, stains etc. The weight and quality of this overlay are important factors to take into consideration when buying a laminate floor.
The Decorative Layer
This is the layer that gives the floor its wood like appearance, it has a purely aesthetic purpose but in some laminates it is also impregnated with melamine making the floor even stronger.
The High Density Fibre (HDF) Board
The HDF board is also important to take into consideration when looking for quality. One of the biggest problems with wood is that it is “living”, it therefore expands and contracts depending on the weather conditions. Often when proper expansion gaps (there should be a 5-8 mm gap at the walls and an expansion joint every 10m) are not made when the floor is laid the floor “pops” because it can’t expand out, so it expands up. It therefore makes sense that the more dense the HDF board is, the less it expands and contracts and this lowers the likelihood of any problems after installation. A lot of the boards actually come with a moisture resistant resin impregnated into them, and this should be used in the more moist areas of the home, although this resin does also lower the amount of expansion and contraction that takes place in the floor.
The Counter Balance/Stabilizing Layer
The counter balance board is also impregnated with resin and protects the underneath parts of the floor from any damage, it provides stability to the floor and decreases the chances of the floor deforming or “bowing”.
- Laminate floors are never sanded and resurfaced. Any harsh abrasive substances will damage the floor.
- Laminates are great for children with allergies.
- They are very low in maintenance, regular vacuuming and a wipe with a damp cloth is all that is needed to keep the floor clean.
- Most laminate floors no longer need to be glued together. There are many glue free laminates on the market. These are quicker to install and you can use the floor as soon as it has been laid down.
- Laminates have to be laid on an even and level substrate. The ideal floor to lay a laminate on would be screed or cement that has been tested to ensure that it is totally level. Laminates can be laid on top of tiles. Laminates cannot be laid on any type of existing wood or on a carpet.