Editor's Intro: In Laminate Flooring Basics Paul Warner gives some background information helpful to anyone considering buying laminate flooring.
by Paul Warner
Laminate flooring has evolved greatly since its invention in 1977. Nowadays there is a great range of laminate flooring to mimic best-loved materials, from wood to ceramic tile to slate and stone.
Besides the extensive range of styles and designs, the main thing that attracts homeowners to laminate flooring is its affordable price. It’s often within the budget of cash-strapped customers, as opposed to hardwood and engineered options.
Laminate flooring resembles the appearance of authentic hardwood, slate, stone and tile floors. It is produced by sticking three layers of materials together and then laminating them. The outer layer is also known as the ‘image layer’ because that is simply what it is – a picture of real wood, tile, slate or stone. The high definition photograph is typically sealed using a resin-based coating that contains aluminium oxide.
The core layer is the most durable part of the laminate flooring. This layer is often made of highly compressed High Density Fibreboard (HDF) which protects it from dents, scrapes and scratches. The backing layer is the one that holds the laminate together, and without it, the flooring type would not be stable.
Laminate flooring was invented in Sweden in 1977 by flooring manufacturers Pergo. The first examples of this flooring type were sold in 1980 and only in Sweden. This laminate flooring was simple and traditional in design, often depicting hardwoods.
Then in Sweden nearly twenty years later, another flooring company invented glue-less laminate flooring which made the installation process a great deal easier which then increased the flooring type’s popularity.
Pergo was and still is today, one of the world’s largest laminate flooring manufacturers even though they only introduced their products to America in 1994 and to Asia in 1995.
The laminate flooring on sale on the current market is a lot different from the earlier laminate examples. Today, it’s possible to purchase laminate flooring that is both UV ray and scratch resistant which increases the life of the flooring as well as its appearance.
You can also purchase laminate flooring that has realistic features like grout lines (for ceramic tile or slate laminates) and textures that resemble their supposed material type i.e. slate laminate that is not smooth- just like the real thing.
Laminate flooring can also be purchased for both commercial and residential purposes and can be quickly and simply installed on your own without the help of a flooring specialist.
Nowadays in the production of laminate flooring, it can undergo two different processes and the laminate produced bears that name for identification purposes:
Direct Pressure Laminate (DPL) - The layers in this laminate type are fused together using pressure treatment.
High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) – The layers are glued together after the image layer and wear layers are pressed onto an extra layer of highly strong paper using processes that utilise high pressure.
The use of laminate floors is increasing in popularity with architects, builders and developers, which suggests a healthy outlook for the future of the flooring type and is certain to encourage further development of the product in years to come.
Paul Warner is a carpenter who enjoys sharing his knowledge of the field with the online community. When he’s not talking shop on the blogosphere, or writing about laminate flooring basics Paul is a floor fitter for Green Apple flooring company, leading stockists of engineered wood, solid wood and laminate flooring.
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