Laminate flooring buying guide
Versatile, easy to fit and extremely durable – there’s a lot to like about laminate flooring.
At Homebase, we stock a wide range of colours and designs to suit every room, so you’re certain to find something that matches your individual style.
Before you take a look through our fantastic range of laminate flooring, have a read through this expert buying guide, designed to give you all the information you need to make the right decisions and find the perfect laminate flooring for your home.
Choosing the right laminate flooring
What types of laminate flooring are there?
Laminate flooring is available in a wide range of colours and styles, but it all falls into a few main categories:
- Hand-scraped laminate: this is designed to look and feel just like real wood, but is much more resilient and durable. Characterful and warm, hand-scraped laminate mimics authentic woodgrain textures to create a surface that’s virtually indistinguishable from real wood. Durable and stain resistant, handscraped laminate doesn’t fade in the sunlight, making it the ideal alternative to real wood floors.
- Textured laminate: this features a textured surface designed to mimic the look of solid wood flooring. The top layer of the laminate has a hard and durable finish. This layer is scratch resistant, making it perfect for use in family homes or high-traffic areas. Textured laminate can be made from a range of different materials including engineered timber, softwood or manmade board, and sometimes features a thin layer of solid timber bonded to the surface.
- Smooth laminate: natural looking, affordable and scratch resistant, smooth laminate flooring comes in a range of different colours and smooth wood-effect finishes that are designed to mimic varnished hardwood boards.
How does laminate flooring fit together?
Laminate flooring comes supplied in packs of boards. Each individual board has interlocking groves along the edge, which form a secure seal when slotted together.
Most modern laminate is really quick and easy to install – the boards simply slot together without the need for any glue or adhesive. This allows space for the laminate to expand and contract slightly with changes in temperature and humidity. A few types of laminate flooring do need to be glued together.
Where can laminate flooring be used?
Durable and versatile, laminate flooring is suitable for use in all rooms in your home. It’s a particularly popular choice for high traffic areas like hallways and living areas.
If you’re planning on fitting laminate in areas that are prone to moisture, like the kitchen or bathroom, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to choose a specialist laminate that’s designed for use in those rooms.
Textured laminate is the best option for high-traffic areas in family homes as it has a protective, scratch resistant finish, which also makes it ideal for homes with pets.
What to consider when buying laminate flooring
Durability & fitting
When comparing laminates, the main things you want to look out for are the locking mechanism, materials and the thickness. How the boards lock together will affect how easy the flooring is to install, and the materials and thickness will have an impact on the durability and lifespan of the laminate.
Which styles of laminate are available?
Whatever look you’re trying to achieve, there’s a laminate flooring to suit your style.
There are a huge number of options in different finishes, from realistic antique effect laminates that are ideal for rural properties, to ultra-modern boards that are perfect for more contemporary homes.
Natural wood effect laminates are the most popular and are available in a vast range of colour options, from light, honeyed hues, right through to rich, dark wood tones. There’s also a whole world of natural oak effect laminate flooring, great if you want add a touch of luxury and elegance to your interior design scheme.
Some laminate flooring looks more realistic than others, so think about the overall look you’re trying to achieve – handscraped laminate offers the most authentic finish.
When it comes to colour, there’s something to match every interior scheme. In addition to a full spectrum of natural wood colours, you’ll also find a wide variety of painted options including white, black and grey.
What thickness and width boards are needed?
Laminate flooring is available in a number of different thicknesses and widths:
- Standard widths for laminate flooring boards are: 116mm, 188mm, 192mm, 193mm and 327mm.
- Standard thicknesses for laminate flooring boards are: 6mm, 7mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm.
Width comes down to preference, so choose the board that matches your interior design scheme best. The thickness of your laminate has more of an impact, and will affect the durability, comfort, insulation performance and lifespan of your laminate.
What insulation is needed with laminate flooring?
You shouldn’t ever lay laminate directly on top of the subfloor. You’ll need to install a layer of insulation down first, and are three main types:
- Polyfoam: this is the thinnest option available and should be used on firm, dry subfloors which are level. They are best for chipboard, plywood and hardboard subfloors.
- Combined underlay: this is thicker than polyfoam underlay and can even out slight discrepancies in the floor level and subfloor surface. It also provides good sound insulation making it suitable for high traffic areas. Combined underlay needs to be taped at the joints to ensure it is damp-proof.
- Wood fibre board: the thickest type of underlay available, wood fibre board is best for use on uneven subfloors or when you’re laying laminate on top of existing floorboards. It boasts good heat and sound insulation, but tends to be more expensive than other options.
What do I need to know about fitting laminate flooring?
Before fitting laminate flooring, it’s vital that the boards are left to acclimatise in the room that they are going to be laid. Laminate contracts and expands slightly with changes in temperature and humidity, and this process will help to ensure a better fit.
Whilst you can lay laminate flooring yourself, it does require a certain amount of DIY skill, so you may want to use a professional fitter if you’re not the hands-on type.
If you would like to have a go but aren’t sure about where to start, take a look at our handy guide on how to lay laminate flooring.
How do I care for laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring is fairly low maintenance, but it does need to be cleaned regularly to keep it looking its best. When vacuuming the floor, make sure you use a soft brush attachment to avoid scratching the surface. You can also use a well wrung-out mop to clean the floor, but you should never allow water to stand on the surface of the laminate. Spillages of any kind should be cleared immediately.
It’s important to remember that you can’t sand the surface of laminate boards to correct damage as you can with real wood flooring. However, with laminate boards that click together, you can usually remove damaged boards and replace them with new ones if needed.
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