There’s a lot of reasons to go with laminate flooring within your home. It’s water resistant, offers a clean, “woody” look, and it’s durable. We reviewed a wide range of floors, choosing Armstrong Laminate Flooring as the winner. In the best case scenario it more than makes up for not being entirely hardwood, but it can be quite difficult to decide on which flooring brand to go with when it comes time to get things done. We’re here to help you make that decision, so that you can end up with a floor you’re truly proud of.
Armstrong is great, certainly a good choice for people on a moderate budget who still want a long lasting floor however, and they warranty their products for a shocking thirty years so you know they stand behind them.
Top 5 Best Brands of Laminate Flooring
We’ve compiled a list of the five best brands to go with. They’re professional approved and have most of the qualities described above, making them some of the best floors you can buy. Give one of them a shot and you won’t be let down.
|Armstrong||Superb look||Fairly pricey||Check Price|
|Pergo||The inventors of laminate flooring||Expensive||Check Price|
|Mohawk||Superb lasting power||Quite expensive||Check Price|
|Quick Step||Versatile molding available||Not great board quality||Check Price|
|BerryAlloc||Amazing diversity||Just the planks||Check Price|
Pergo was the first to hit the market, they’re the original thing without a doubt. They have the longest history of any company on the market, and in addition to that they specialize in artificially distressed looking flooring and other artistic designs.
Pergo doesn’t come cheap, but what you get is expertise extending backwards for as long as laminate flooring has been around and a huge number of both practical and aesthetic options. It’s all enough to make your head spin at the end of the day, but they’re still one of the best.
Pergo managed to avoid cheaping out like a lot of their competitors did in the original “gold rush” associated with a new material coming to market, and they remain one of the best. You simply can’t go wrong if you decide to go with one of their designs. Like Armstrong, Pergo also offers matching molding to make for a polished final look. View Great Laminate Deals.
Pros and Cons
- The inventors of laminate flooring
- Matching trim and molding
- Amazing quality
2. Best For Low Budget
Armstrong Laminate Flooring
Armstrong is one of the first names you’ll hear anytime you do research into laminate flooring and it’s for a good reason. Many professionals strongly prefer this brand at the end of the day, and you’ll find that it comes in a huge variety of colorations and patterns that will suit anyone. Whether you’re looking for that blackened oak antique look or something truly exotic, they have something to readily accommodate pretty much every aesthetic taste.
In addition to looking great, Armstrong offers a patented locking system which makes it even easier to install than standard laminate flooring. They also offer trim and other finishing pieces that are the same color as most of their options, making for a complete look at the end of your project. Visit Their Website
Pros and Cons
- Cheaper than many brands
- Matching molding
- Superb look
- Still fairly pricey
3. Best Looking Floor
Mohawk is one of the leading brands in laminate flooring as well. They’ve come up with a simply astounding array of different patterns and the products they make are tough enough to stand up to almost anything. Their products are made with at least 50% recycled material as well, so you can be assured of an ethical choice if that sort of thing is your cup of tea.
They’re a great choice for almost anyone, but there’s always a caveat: Mohawk floors are expensive. If you find a design you like in their collection, however, you can rest assured that it’ll stay that way for decades to come as long as you maintain it properly.
Realistically, these floors might be out of the range of some people but for those who can afford it they make realistic, beautiful floors. Visit Their Website
Pros and Cons
- Recycled material
- Huge variety of materials
- Superb lasting power
- Quite expensive
4. Best Versatile Molding
Quick Step is perfect for those who want to make sure they’re on top of the latest trends. While some other manufacturers may offer slightly better quality boards at the end of the day, Quick Step is ahead of them when it comes to technology.
They specialize in modular products that can fit nearly anywhere. Even their molding comes in a variety that allows it to be used for almost anything you can think of.
Their boards are pressed with direct pressure, ensuring that they remain perfectly balanced over time and doing their best to keep them from rising or buckling. Overall they make a stand out product that looks great, with the best technology in the field. Visit Their Webiste
Pros and Cons
- A little bit cheaper
- Advanced technology
- Versatile molding available
- Good, but not great board quality
Best Diverse Collection
BerryAlloc offers some of the most realistic looking boards on the market, and almost all of them are produced with a built-in underlayment that makes installation even easier. In addition to that, they offer some truly unique patterns that simply aren’t found anywhere but in real hardwood.
Their standard offerings come in at a pretty fair, even low, price point but it scales with the uniqueness of the design and the quality of the board. Pretty much anyone, on any budget, should take a look at their offerings in order to see if they have something they like.
The boards are produced in a variety of patterns, and a variety of ways. What you end up looking at is a hugely diverse collection of boards at a variety of different prices. Give them a look before you choose any others, since some of the patterns simply can’t be found anywhere else, and if the one you want is too expensive then you may want to see if another brand has a matching pattern. Unfortunately, they only seem to offer the planks, so you’ll be on your own when it comes time to pick out molding and trim. Visit Their Website
Pros and Cons
- Amazing diversity
- Totally unique patterns
- Fairly priced
- Just the planks
A Guide to the Best Laminate Flooring
There’s a lot of reasons to go with laminate flooring within your home. It’s water resistant, offers a clean, “woody” look, and it’s durable. In the best case scenario it more than makes up for not being entirely hardwood, but it can be quite difficult to decide on which flooring brand to go with when it comes time to get things done. We’re here to help you make that decision, so that you can end up with a floor you’re truly proud of.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a composite made to resemble more expensive hardwood floors. In practice, it offers even more advantages than the usual hardwood with one caveat: the repetitive patterns can be distinguished from natural hardwood flooring by the practiced eye.
This really isn’t a reason not to go with it, however. It’s quite often much more water resistant than hardwood which makes it suitable for the whole house. It’s easier to cut as well and it makes a good material for those who want to do the work themselves.
Laminate flooring will consist of several layers of different materials. Exactly what the layers are composed of will vary depending on the type of flooring you choose to go with. The varying layers will allow for a large amount of flexibility in usage, and the home DIYer will feel right at home after they’ve laid a couple of dozen square feet of it.
What is the Advantage of Laminate Flooring?
The advantages of laminate flooring are numerous, and it’s rapidly become one of the most used materials in modern construction. It’s not a perfect material, particularly for those with an overly discerning eye for aesthetics, but it beats out most materials for a variety of purposes.
Laminate flooring will generally be water-resistant, meaning it can be used safely in kitchens as long as you’re not dumping huge amounts of stuff on the floor. This comes from the plastic outer layer of the boards.
It’s also quite cheap, a special bonus if you have a larger home without a huge budget. On average it will cost about half of what actual hardwood will cost.
The variety of patterns it can be bought in means that laminate flooring can mimic even rare and super expensive woods without much difficulty. This is due to the photographic layer which is placed directly underneath the outer plastic layer.
Overall, it’s a superb material. It does have its own quirks when it comes to cleaning, and you probably don’t want to use it in your bathroom since it’s only water-resistant and not truly waterproof. If you’re smart about where you use it, however, it may be one of the best investments you can make in your home’s aesthetics.
What Types of Laminate Flooring are Available?
There are two main types of laminate flooring available.
While some don’t consider it to be such, engineered wood fits the laminate description quite well. A relatively new addition to the flooring scene, engineered wood consists almost entirely of hardwood while remaining fairly cheap.
Engineered wood is actually a thin veneer panel placed over a hardwood core. The top is then coated with a UV resistant acrylic layer. That last part is important, as sun fading can occur with standard hardwood.
While it offers an aesthetic edge over laminate flooring, it does cost a little bit more and has some drawbacks. The big drawback is that it dents quite easily and may not last as long as either real hardwood or standard laminate flooring. It’s also not quite as water resistant so you probably should use tile in your kitchen if you’re going to use it for the whole home.
As such, its use is something to consider but don’t just make the decision based upon the look. Floors take a lot of punishment, and they’re going to be there for a long time, which means that it may not be ideal in a busy home.
Standard laminate flooring is cheaper by far, usually around half of the cost. It’s actually made of fiberboard with a photographic layer on the top and bottom of the flooring then wrapped in a plastic layer. The plastic layer offers quite a bit of water resistance.
Both types of flooring will then be slotted on one side and grooved on the other in order to ensure that they can slide together quickly and easily when you’re installing the flooring.
Laminate flooring is designed for the budget conscious for the most part, but the whole process of removing or installing it is pretty much the same as usual hardwood.
What to Look for in Laminate Flooring
When you’re looking to pick out a brand of laminate flooring for your home you need to pay attention and do your research thoroughly. While it might be tempting to just pick something out based on the look, don’t make your final choice based only on the aesthetic qualities of the boards or you might be in for a shock a few years down the road.
The thickness of the boards has a lot of bearing on the look, feel, and sound of the flooring. Thinner boards simply won’t have the realism present that a thicker board can provide. They’ll also be more durable, making sure that you don’t have to replace them for a long time to come.
Keep in mind that the advertised thickness of the boards may not only refer to the core. The best brands often come with their own under-layer, and in most cases these will add a couple of millimeters to the board. You might see a 14mm board advertised, but the core is actually only 12mm with 2mm of padding for instance.
8mm-12mm of core is considered ideal for most applications. If you’re using it in a commercial building, you may want to consider something a bit thicker but in general it’s easier to lay vinyl in high-traffic and large areas.
The photographic layer is quite important, as far as the aesthetic goes. While engineered wood actually consists of a thin veneer of the desired material, standard laminate flooring is actually engineered from a photograph.
The technology has actually come quite far since the advent of the material and modern boards can be mistaken for hardwood quite easily. Cheaper brands will have a quickly repetitive pattern, but a high-quality laminate flooring will generally have the “picture” spread out far enough that it’s not recognizable to the average person.
This is your primary consideration as far as looks go, but don’t let it be the final determination of whether you’re going with a particular brand or not.
Almost all laminate or engineered wood floorings will come with the same type of interconnections. They will be a simple groove and slot method which pretty much anyone can do. This means that the artistry will be largely dependent on the home handyman or installer themselves.
Installing flooring with these types of connection is remarkably easy. Easy enough that you should just ignore any brand which doesn’t offer this feature, even if they’re selling it for pennies per square foot. Your time and effort is better spent in other places.
The AC rating was developed by laminate floor makers, and a floor that has a certified rating is definitely a good way to go. It measures the resistance to a variety of factors, including abrasion, staining, burning, and swelling. The ratings are generally thought of as follows:
- AC1: Moderate residential usage, suitable for bedrooms and closets.
- AC2: Suitable for more high-traffic uses in the home such as living rooms and dining rooms.
- AC3: Suitable for pretty much anything in the home and light commercial uses like hotel rooms and smaller offices.
- AC4: Usable for heavier applications like restaurants, cafes, and office buildings.
- AC5: Suitable for pretty much anything, generally used for things like sales floors in retail outlets.
It’s a handy rating system, but you’ll rarely need to use anything above AC3 in a home and AC2 is fine for pretty much anything around the house.
This will always rear its ugly head when it comes to doing stuff around the house. Be certain to carefully consider the price/quality ratio before making a final decision. It may be better to save up for a month or two, rather than leaping right into things and getting an inferior product.
For the most part, as with most construction materials, higher quality will cost more. A bit of comparison shopping around the price point might be warranted, but more expensive flooring will generally be better.
You want something warrantied. There’s no two ways around that, it’s pretty much a necessary part of the whole process. For one thing, a non-warrantied floor might have had a manufacturer defect and you could end up with peeling and cracking within a couple of years.
The other thing is that a company that warranties their flooring stands behind it. You definitely want to know that a company is proud enough of their product. Warranties for flooring are generally measured in decades, not just months or years.
Keeping all of the above in mind will help you make sure that you get the best product possible for your dollar. Before you go on a long, exhausting search, however, let us show you five of the best laminate floorings on the market and you can see if one is right for you.
We hope that we’ve helped you find the perfect laminate flooring for your home. There’s a huge variety out there, but if you go with one of the above brands then you’ll know for a fact you’re in good hands.
Avoid buying super cheap planks, they’ll look fine for the first year or so but you’re going to be in trouble after that. Instead, go with one of the reliable, proven brands we’ve listed and you’ll know for a fact that you can’t go wrong by making them an attractive new addition to your home.