Is laminate flooring what I want?
July 27, 2012 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me floor my house!

Do you love/hate your laminate flooring? Does it stand up to/not stand up to dog pee and small children? If you hate it, what other durable, cost effective methods for flooring an entire living area(entry, family rm, kitchen, dining, living rm) are there? Cool climate, so tile is out.
posted by Cloudberry Sky to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am currently doing cork floating tiles in my living room. I previously had bamboo tongue-in-groove. A friend had cork in her kitchen, and it looked great despite her having two large dogs, a kid, and it being a kitchen. My previous bamboo held up well, we are actually reusing it in my closet (large home renovation).
posted by kellyblah at 5:21 PM on July 27, 2012

I have had Pergo laminate in my LR/DR/Kit for 15 years and it still looks good. I had 3 kids and a dog plus my ex wife did home daycare and it has stood up to all that. The new laminates don't need to be glued so they are much easier and quicker to install. They are cheaper than they used to be also. Buy a decent pad to go underneath it and do yourself a favor and don't buy any .89 per sq ft junk. Buy a good quality and you'll be happy with it. Easy to keep clean too with a wet or dry Swiffer.
posted by mikedelic at 5:24 PM on July 27, 2012

I have Pergo laminate. I hate it aesthetically... it screams Home Depot. However it's VERY easy to keep clean, and seriously resists damage. As such, I decided to tolerate it.
posted by zvs at 6:02 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have Pergo, the type with the additional padding underneath. It's easy to clean and seems to be withstanding my cats reasonably well. That being said, I hope to upgrade it to engineered hardwood at some point in the future, because, well, it looks like laminate (even though it's pretty high-end).
posted by thomas j wise at 6:22 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did laminate through my house last year. I found it easy to install and I love the way it looks. It feels like wood to me, and I have friends who have walked on it and did not believe when I told them later it was laminate.

However it was the expensive stuff (12mm thickness, $80 per square metre), and we could have done cheap hardwood at that price. (We didn't because we had a concrete subfloor, and floating hardwood floors seem to have some of the same disadvantages of laminate, and also because laminate supposedly stands up better to pets).

Ours still looks brand new just over a year later.

BUT it is hard to clean - you aren't meant to mop it (except with a very small amount of vinegar or cleaning product sprayed onto a mop), and we got glossy laminate, so it shows everything.

If I did it again, I would get a matte laminate in a lighter colour.
posted by lollusc at 6:36 PM on July 27, 2012

Best answer: It's difficult to beat laminate when shopping for budget/performance/style in one product.
Most laminate flooring will run $0.79 to $5.00 s/f. As you step up in price you will get:
-better visual (more realistic)
-better wear surface (for greater scratch resistance)
-better options for style (different plank widths, etc.)

Concerning things like dog pee and children, any liquid that sits on the joint between planks is likely to seep in and damage the core of the board. Once this happens, the damaged board(s) will need to be replaced. That being said, if you are diligent about wiping up spill ASAP you're not likely to have a problem.

Aside from the moisture issue, laminate floors are good. The biggest hurdle is finding the one you like.
And as mikedelic stated, buy a good pad (underlayment/sound deadener). The reason for doing so is that laminate floors tend to have hollow and "clicky" sounds. A high density pad/underlayment will minimize that.

*Note: I spent a lifetime in the floor covering industry. Please feel free to message me with any additional questions. I've helped out a few other MeFites over the years.
posted by nickthetourist at 6:38 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

We have engineered oak hardwood over cork over concrete slab, and a 4 year old. Part of me wishes we had gotten hardwood because he's TOUGH on the floors. We're taking more scratches than I'd like (nothing too bad), but our friends with laminate and kids hardly notice any damage, if any.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 7:49 PM on July 27, 2012

I asked a similar question recently. Where I live now has laminate. It has held up well since it was installed about 7-10 years ago, if I recall my landlord's words correctly. It doesn't look like wood because it is the kind with three boards on one piece, if that makes sense. Each piece of the click-lock was about 6 inches wide, and was designed to look like three 2" wide boards. Some laminate is 4"-6" wide and designed to look like 4-6" wide boards. If you get one like that where they vary the lengths of the boards themselves, I think it can look fairly realistic.

The other thing I'll say is: shop for deals. Lumber Liquidators sometimes has great sales, and if you're in the Bay Area, there's another store where I found even cheaper prices on one laminate last month. I'm not a stockholder or anything, but I went to a number of stores and told them the prices, and they said "you can't beat that, that's a great deal." Some of those deals have now expired, so my only point is: wait for deals, because sometimes they'll negotiate a bulk purchase and have the one you want for much cheaper.
posted by slidell at 10:20 PM on July 27, 2012

NoRelationToLea: We have engineered oak hardwood over cork over concrete slab, and a 4 year old. Part of me wishes we had gotten hardwood because he's TOUGH on the floors. We're taking more scratches than I'd like (nothing too bad), but our friends with laminate and kids hardly notice any damage, if any.

The key point here is that laminate will have a greater scratch resistance to traditional hardwood or engineered hardwood. As one of my old reps would say, "the 4 guarantees of hardwood -- solid or engineered -- are that it will ding, dent, scratch, and scuff."

Concerning slidell's point about looking for a deal, be careful when doing so. While there may be the occasional great deal out there, you'll also find plenty of situations where it's too good to be true.

If you find something you're curious about, I'd be more than happy to check (and decipher) the info on it for you.
posted by nickthetourist at 11:44 PM on July 27, 2012

I have bamboo tongue-in-groove. It wasn't that much more than laminate, and it looks nice and is wearing well. It also doesn't go pok-pok-pok when you walk on it in heels.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:55 PM on July 27, 2012

Whether it goes pok-pok-pok is more a measure of how you have it installed, the substrate it's installed on, and the level and type of padding that's used than it is the floor material itself. I've had really good luck with some of the cheapest possible flooring, Kronotex/Kronoswiss, but other people who were not so careful (had a raging keg/pool party) and ended up replacing the entire floor. Since it was an open-concept house, I mean the ENTIRE floor.

For bathrooms and areas that might flood (laundry, kitchen, entry way when the kids come in full of snow or with dripping rain coats), I would avoid any hardwoods, laminates, etc. whatsoever. Wood floors and water do NOT mix. Either (ugh) Vinyl or Marmoleum, or tile are your options for the kitchen, laundry, entry, bathrooms.

Why is tile out for a cooler climate? We had tile and hardwood throughout most of the house I grew up in; us chilluns were not allowed in the hardwood areas except under special conditions. ;) Some areas of tile that we spent a lot of time in had sub-surface heating mats that made it the most pleasant place to be in the winter time. We also used oriental and throw rugs extensively in both the summer and the wintertime.

What is the substrate that you'll be applying the product to? If the subfloors are wood, you're fine attaching nail-down natural wood (some of which can be quite cheap) and nail-down engineered woods; these are what I'd actually recommend. Look for a high Jancka hardness on the wood -- 1300 or better, if I remember correctly, will get you a decent degree of dent/scratch resistance. If you're going over concrete above grade, you'll want to use either pergo or, really, tile. The pergo will last five to ten years. The tile will last a lifetime. You also gain incomparable moisture resistance from tile. While you can also glue down a material; please note that I am distinctly against this solution and think it's a horrible idea for all kinds of reasons. If you're going over concrete below grade in any situation, definitely be sure to have a professional check the moisture of the slab before you attach anything to it... this may apply to a slab on or above grade as well.
posted by SpecialK at 5:01 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Last year I came home after an all-nighter to discover that I was a loser in "water heater roulette." Could have saved the wall-to-wall carpet, but decided to put down laminate instead. We chose Pergo Williamsburg Oak and couldn't be happier. Easier to clean than carpet, withstands hairballs and cat urp just fine and thus far, seems very durable. A couple of soft spots where the cement underneath wasn't quite level, but not noisy nor bothersome. I still have wall-to-wall carpet in bedrooms and my den/library, but when the time comes to replace those areas, I'll probably go with more laminate. I like it that much.
posted by CincyBlues at 6:56 AM on July 28, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all for all of your help and great answers! These 'real life' answers were exactly what I was looking for (as opposed to the sales pitch from the reps.)
posted by Cloudberry Sky at 8:30 AM on July 28, 2012

I have three cute-but-often-pukey cats and I loved the (very cheap) laminate flooring I had in the upperfloor of my house, and the pricier laminate flooring in my boyfriend's apartment. His was much easier to install, but they both are super-easy to clean (wet cloth will handle anything, they don't stain and they are superquick to vacuum), don't require any polishing or finishing (like my hardwood in my house). Looking at new places, being able to install laminate is a requirement for my next home.
posted by Kurichina at 8:20 AM on July 30, 2012

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