Laminate flooring is a multi layered synthetic flooring product, fused together with a lamination process. Laminate flooring simulates wood with a photographic layer under a clear, protective layer. The inner core layer is usually composed of melamine resin and fiberboard materials.
Laminate flooring has grown significantly in popularity because of its visual appeal, durability, cost, ease of installation and is easier to maintain than more traditional surfaces, such as hardwood flooring.
Laminate flooring uses a floating floor installation system and because it is reasonably easy to install, it has become very appealing to the DYI homeowner. The flooring comes in packages with a number of tongue and groove planks, which are easily clicked together, forming the completed floor. Installed laminate floors typically float over the sub floor on top of a layer of foam underlay, which provides moisture proofing and sound reducing properties. A small gap (up to 10mm) is required between the flooring and any immovable objects, such as walls. This allows the flooring to expand without being obstructed. Baseboards (skirting boards) can be removed and then re-installed after laying the flooring, making for a neater finish. Or the baseboard can be left in place, with the flooring butting into it, then small beading trims such as quarter-round moldings can be fitted to the bottoms of the baseboards. Saw cuts on the planks are usually required at edges and around cupboard and door entrances, but for a professional finish it is necessary to undercut the door jams with sufficient space, which allows the flooring to go under, making for a cleaner look and finish.
It is important to keep laminate clean, as dust, dirt and sand particles may scratch the surface over a prolonged period of time, particularly in high traffic areas. It is also important to keep laminate relatively dry, since sitting water or moisture can cause the planks to swell and warp. However, water spills aren't a problem if they are wiped up quickly and not allowed to sit for a prolonged period of time. Having flooring with waxed edges will add to the water resistant qualities of your laminate flooring. Adhesive felt pads are often placed on the feet of furniture to prevent scratching of laminate flooring.
Cleaning laminate flooring is easy and comparable to cleaning other hard surfaces, such as hardwood floors. It is generally not recommended to mop laminate floors, as in some circumstances it can cause damage by soaking into the composite portion, which causes warping over time. It is recommended to use dry methods, such as brooms to clean, with occasional wet cleaning, with more specialized mop-type products, that do not leave excessive water on the flooring.