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Laminate flooring is, basically, a euphemism for fake wood flooring. It is flooring that aims to avoid all the pitfalls of carpet and give the advantages of wood floor, while at the same time avoiding the excessive expense of real wood floors. Laminate flooring is generally made from man-made materials, most often plastic or fibreboard.
That’s not to say that laminate flooring doesn’t have its upsides, however. Because it’s so cheap, it lends itself to do-it-yourself projects, and can be very quick and easy to install if it is fitted with an interlocking ‘click’ system such as Uniclic. It doesn’t need to be stuck down to the floor underneath, which makes it both easy to put in and easy to remove if you ever need to. It won’t fade in sunlight like wood will. Good laminate flooring can be very difficult to tell from wood at all, while often being more durable and easier to replace should anything happen to it.
Another advantage of laminate flooring is that you’re not just limited to fake wood patterns: you can also get stone, tiles, or bright colours or other interesting patterns – you simply have much more choice than you do with wood. The worldwide market for laminate flooring is growing much faster than that of wood, mainly for reasons of cost.
When you choose laminate flooring, it is important to get the right kind of flooring for your room. Living rooms need floors that can take quite a lot of weight, while bathroom floors need to be water-resistant (although even the most water-resistant laminates don’t do well if they consistently get wet).
One other downside of laminate flooring is that it tends to make a tell-tale tap-tap sound when it’s walked on, compared to quiet wood floors. You can get underlay that will go some way towards getting rid of this sound, but it’s an extra expense and extra trouble to install.