When it's time to replace your floors, laminate flooring can give you a beautiful look and more durable floor for less than wood or tile. However, some laminates are higher quality than others. This article will tell you how to compare laminate flooring brands.
Look at the price per square foot. It's true that you get what you pay for. Higher priced laminate flooring is made of higher quality materials, with more layers, and more attention is paid to details. Higher quality laminate also usually comes in single "boards" rather than groupings of "boards", which makes it look more like real wood. The higher the price, the better quality laminate.
Find out what core material is used. The higher the number, the stronger and better quality the laminate is. Most floors use an average of 700-880 kg per square meter, but some go as high as 950. However, most home improvement stores will not carry laminate flooring that has a value of 950. You may have to go to a specialty store to find that.
Find out the surface rating of a brand of laminate flooring. The flooring industry assigns ratings to laminate floors. This is called the "AC" rating. The higher the number after the AC, the more durable the floor. Big box stores will usually sell floors with an AC2 or AC3 rating. Specialty shops may have floors with an AC4 rating.
Check out the locking mechanism. Lower quality floors have weaker locking mechanisms. Test this yourself if you can. Lock two pieces together and see if they easily come apart with your thumb and forefinger. If so, you might want to consider a different brand. Bevel locking will leave a visible seam, which makes it look more like real wood.
Look at the texture. Real wood has grain running through it that you can feel. Run your finger over the laminate to test how it feels. Although some consumers like the feel of smooth laminate, higher quality wood laminates are made with a rougher grain texture, so they look like real wood.
Pay attention to the backing. Highest quality laminate brands will come with a backing already applied which will repel water and allow you to apply it directly to your floor, with no underlying material to install. This will save you time and money, especially if you are installing the flooring yourself!